Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Will The Real Click Please Stand Up

I have been saying this model is flawed for a while. There WILL be a model that wont be determined by clicks.

What if there was an "all u can eat" like model? Pay an annual fee and the brand determines how to get traffic to its site?

From USA Today.com Click fraud looms as threat to online advertisers.

SAN FRANCISCO — Like thousands of other merchants, Tammy Harrison thought she had struck gold when hordes visited her Web site by clicking on the small Internet ads she purchased from the world's most popular online search engines. It cost Harrison as much as $20 for each click, but the potential new business seemed to justify the expense. Harrison's delight dimmed, though, when she realized the people clicking on her ads weren't really interested in her products.

She was being victimized by "click fraud," a scam that threatens to squelch the online advertising boom that has been enriching Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and their many business partners.

The ruse has different twists, but the end result is usually the same: Merchants are billed for fruitless traffic generated by someone who repeatedly clicks on an advertiser's Web link with no intention of ever buying anything.

"Click fraud has gotten out of control," said Harrison, who sells computer software to doctors. "It's stealing money from my pocket. It's just as bad as someone walking into a store and taking a television."

Estimates vary widely on how much click fraud is going on in the $3.8 billion search engine advertising market

"Click fraud is like a big elephant standing in the middle of the living room," said Lisa Wehr, president of Oneupweb, a search engine advertising consultant. "Everyone sees it and knows it's there, but no one is quite sure what to do about it."

The incentives for click fraud have increased along with the money devoted to search engine advertising — a concept that didn't exist until Overture Services introduced it in the late 1990s.

Such advertising, Google calls it AdWords, works like this: The search engine auctions off the right to have advertising links displayed when designated words, such as "vacation Hawaii," are included in a search request. The top bids get the most prominent display on Web pages

Higher prices have turned click fraud into a cottage industry.

Some swindlers have hired cheap overseas contractors to sit in front of computers and click on targeted links all day.

Others are developing sophisticated software to help automate and conceal click fraud.

What if there was a way to bypass a search engine completely? What if an advertiser could incorporate their other mediums to generate traffic to the site.

Between click fraud and trademark issues, search engines will have to be creative in order to keep advertisers spending their dollars.

A new platform for search is coming though. A platform where brands can completely bypass the search engine. That should change this pay-per-click model dramatically.

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