Posts Tagged ‘measures’

Click Fraud- Types, Cases, Perpetrators, & Preventative Measures”

November 7, 2008

November 06, 2008

 “Click Fraud- Types, Cases, Perpetrators & Preventative Measures”

Click fraud is clicking on a paid advertisement for a fraudulent or non-legitimate purpose. It is something that negatively affects all e-commerce participants, online marketers and search engines. Click fraud can come in many forms such as: network click fraud, competitive click fraud, and impression fraud. Here, we will distinguish the difference between these types of frauds, examine an example of a click fraud case, expose the source of click fraud, and briefly explore some preventative measures against this type of internet fraud.

 

 Forms of Click Fraud

An article at www.clickz.com explores the different types of click fraud and its implications. In short, network click fraud occurs when a network partner (usually the search engine) manufactures clicks, either through human or robotic means. This type of fraud benefits the publisher and the network owner.  Competitive click fraudoccurs when a competitor fraudulently clicks on a paid advertisement that you have purchased or bid on. For example, if you are a law firm in New York and decide to bid on the term “New York lawyer” which exceeds $10 CPC, and your listing gets a click a day from five people from a competitor in both Google and Overture, you’ll pay and extra $1500 a month, with no true benefit. A page impression occurs every time a page is viewed that contains Google Ads. Each impression is counted only once regardless of how many Google Ads it contains. A fictitious illustration of impression fraud was found at sem-faq.com , in brief, the story outlines how impression fraud works.Cindy has an ad for Christmas trees running on Google Ad words, she is generating decent traffic through her PPC campaign. A lot of visitors end up purchasing. Bob also has an ad running for Christmas trees on Google Ad words but his ad is not getting a lot of clicks. He has to pay more just to keep his add on display, so he decides to do something devious. He starts to search for Christmas tree related words on Google and asks his friends to do the same several times a day, though they never click on any of the links. This causes Cindy’s click-through-rate to go considerably down and she is now listed at the bottom of the heap. In reality the loss from impression fraud may run into the thousand dollar mark, and even more for larger businesses.

 

 

Cases & Perpetrators

 

A business week article entitled The dark side of online advertisingexposes the story of Martin Fleischmann who was deceived by click fraud. Fleischmann is the owner and founder of MostChoice.com a company that gives information and quotes on mortgages and insurance. Recently Fleischmann invested a total of $2 million in advertising fees (paid to Google); he later noticed a growing number of clicks coming from overseas destinations such as Bostwana, Mongolia and Syria, which seemed odd as most of his clients resided in the U.S. Fleishmann using high-grade software, discovered that the distant clicks had appeared not on Google or Yahoo pages but dummy websites with names like insurance1472.com and insurance060.com. When somebody would click on these recycled links on these dummy websites MostChoice would get billed. Google and the dummy website hosts and operators then share the revenue. To date he calculates that this fraudulent clicking has cost his business over $100,000 since 2003.

 

In addition to examining this particular case of click fraud, the article also talks about the “thriving click-fraud underground” community that has been populated by small-time players that makes detection difficult. The article gives an example of a married couple that engaged in click fraud and made more than $5,000 in four months. David and Renee Struck set up dummy websites with recycled Google ads and paid others to visit the sites and click repeatedly. There are actually numerous sites that disguise themselves as legitimate employment and will hire you as a “click agent”, where you can earn up to $10,000 or more of extra cash a year.  Google continues to defend their practice of recycled advertisements claiming that it helps point internet surfers toward relevant information.

 

 

Preventative Measures

 

The article on impression fraudat sem-faq.com suggests that keeping a close eye on traffic, CTR and impression activity is crucial. It also advises to reporting any strange or unusual activity such as lots of impression but little change in CTR to Google immediately and that this will help you get some compensation. But above all the article suggest that keeping a close eye on traffic coming to your site and the traffic that is not coming to your site is the most important point. Perhaps, general awareness may be the first step in terms of protection against click fraud. Awareness, education and prevention are usually regarded as the key components in detecting, avoiding and stopping fraud.  It will take a cooperative effort between law enforcement, search engines, advertisers, and publishers to stop or at least lesson the amount of click fraud out there.  

 

 

 

Key Performance Indicators and Website Goals

September 25, 2008

 September 25, 2008

“Key Performance Indicators & Website Goals”

Key performance indicators (KPI’s) of a website are important; they help build, determine and analyze the effectiveness of a website relative to the websites goals. In other words, you need a way to measure if what you are doing with your website is helping your firm achieve its goals (KPI’s are those measurements). How do you use these measurements appropriately based on your firm’s goals? What KPI do you use?  Here we will explore, some of the guidelines surrounding key performance indicators in relation to a firms objectives.

In order for KPI to work effectively in relation to firms goals, the KPI’s should be quantifiable and reflect the firm’s goals, and secondly the firm’s goals should be specific.  An article found at Management.about.com, (http://management.about.com/cs/generalmanagement/a/keyperfindic_2.htm), distinguishes a good key performance indicator from a bad one by using real business based examples. Overall, the findings suggest that, any goal set, must be specific, “increased sales” is too broad a goal. There are a number of smaller yet just as imperative goals that lead up to increased sales such as: increased website traffic, returned visitors, reduced complaints, or maintaining web presence and user availability.  Similarly, if a KPI is to be of any value, they must be quantifiable. The article also, (http://management.about.com/cs/generalmanagement/a/keyperfindic.htm) explores poorly set key performance indicators and effective ones. It suggests that “Being the most popular web-based company” will be useless as a KPI unless there is a way to measure the company’s popularity or compare it to others.  It is important to remember that what you are measuring can actually be measured numerically.

Julie Mason is the General Manager for Kellysearch.com, a comprehensive online buyers’ guide and vertical search engine, with over 2 million companies listed worldwide. In her blog, (http://www.searchenginejournal.com/practical-guide-to-website-key-performance-indicators-kpis/5692/), she gives some direction as to how a company can determine what KPI’s it should be using.  She also advised that if certain KPI numbers don’t add up with your websites goals, there are areas of your site that need improving. 

Certain KPI’s will be used to measure certain goals, based on the firm’s purpose, size and scope. Let us observe just some of the more commonly used measurements that are available.

          Visitors per Conversion, Lead or Order: This is a basic calculation: leads divided by site visits. This is a primary metric to watch as changes are made to the site (http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3382981)

          Cost per Lead (CPL): CPL defines how much revenue a publisher receives when he creates a lead for an advertiser. For example, the publisher may place an ad for an investment site on his website. If a user clicks on the advertisement link, she is directed to the advertiser’s website where she can sign up for an investment account. If she chooses to sign up, a lead has been created and the publisher is paid a certain amount based on the CPL. (http://www.techterms.com/definition/cpl)

          Stickiness: measures the  level of involvement and length of time a visitor spends in a specific content area ( http://www.searchenginejournal.com/practical-guide-to-website-key-performance-indicators-kpis/5692/)

          Percentage of New Visitors: this ratio tells you how many people out of all your prospects were new to visiting your site, it is calculated by the equation

New Visitors/Unique Visitors = Percentage of New Visitors

(http://books.google.ca/books?id=g3sWkbuPTQcC&pg=PA114&lpg=PA114&dq=how+do+you+measure+the+percentage+of+new+visitors+to+a+website&source=web&ots=LLo_Aiyf6N&sig=1ySXNpzO1kAFbtvzUXUNiuy-m-k&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result)

 

Let us now put one of the KPI’s to use in an example. If for instance, you are an independent music artist and you have just set up your website, maybe one goal of your site is to get as many people as possible to join your email list. The question then raised is how would you use KPI’s to see if your website is achieving this goal?  Well, you could use the visitors per conversion measure. If 100 people visit your website but only 5 subscribe to the email list, this could indicate that there is a problem with this area of your site. Perhaps, there is content on the site that users find unappealing or invasive, or there could not be enough engaging content encouraging the user to join the list. Or possibly, this part of your site is hard to navigate or confusing, the layout could be poor, or it could require that users provide too much personal information. On a side note, as a website visitor, personally, I would want to join an email list, because by doing so I will get something in return, which I think should be taken in consideration by any organization wanting to create an email list.  

 

Those are just some of KPI measures that were found across a number of different articles and websites. One blog in particular located at http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2008/09/rules-choosing-web-analytics-key-performance-indicators.html, is a great read concerning KPI’s. In this blog Avanish (the blog writer), posts what he thinks are the most effective KPI’s to use, eight tips to use KPI’s effectively, and accompanies his opinions and reasons with great graphs and charts. Avanish states that one of his favourite KPI’s is “Days & Visits to ‘Purchase’”. He comically compares consumer shopping habits to their dating habits.  He states whilst referring to people’s shopping habits, that, “Life rarely is about one night stands. People don’t behave that way. We like to take our time”.  The “Day’s & Visits to ‘Purchase” measure basically counts how long it takes for a person to complete and outcome on your website, with that outcome most commonly being a purchase.

 

 

Avanish also suggests the following KPI’s as most effective: average order value, visitor loyalty & recency, and task completion rate. For anyone considering the application and use of key performance indicators, Avanish’s blog is definitely insightful.

Determining which KPI’s to use will be based on the purpose and goal of your website. It is important to keep in mind that goals should be specific, and note that they will change over time as your firm gets closer to achieving its goals. Also, KPI’s should be measurable, and relevant to the firm’s goals.  Firms should start to see results if the KPI matches the goals and if the results are analyzed effectively.