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February 11 2009

Click Fraud – Should you be worried?

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Just as injuries are a part of sports, click fraud is an unfortunate part of the PPC game. You can take all the precautions to eliminate the issue, but click fraud happens. The question is — how bad is the issue? There has been some press about this lately, and I believe there is some overreaction.

According to Click Forensics, a company that specializes in monitoring and preventing internet crime, click fraud rates are at a two-year high. The industry click fraud rate for the last quarter of 2008 was 17.1% versus 16.6% a year earlier. At first glance, these numbers do seem alarming. What isnt factored into that 17.1% are the invalid clicks that are discounted by most search engines.

Google, Yahoo, and MSN have safeguards in place to indentify and filter out invalid clicks, and have recently stepped up their efforts to control click fraud. For instance with Google, in most cases these fraudulent clicks are filtered out before they are even reported in the AdWords interface to advertisers. Google utilizes 4 layers of click fraud filters, and claims that their click fraud rate is on average less than 2%. Yahoo has stated that on average between 12-15% of clicks are filtered out due to being fraudulent or invalid.

Bottom line: It’s important to be aware that click fraud is a reality, but as advertisers you can feel confident that the search engines are taking the issue seriously and doing a good job identifying and filtering out these invalid clicks.

January 30 2009

Google Conversion Optimizer

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Google is always releasing new tools in their AdWords interface, and one of the more recent tools being offered is Conversion Optimizer. This tool can help you reach your CPA (cost per acquisition) goals by using Conversion tracking and the historical data with your AdWords account. It’s ideal for users that don’t rely on a 3rd party bid management solution and a great way for the average AdWords user to optimize their account with automated bid management. Best of all — its free with any AdWords account.

If you are interested in setting up this feature on any campaigns in your account, it’s quite simple and setup takes a few moments for each campaign you activate. The only requirement is that the campaign being opted in must have at least 30 conversions over the last 30 days — Google needs a decent amount of conversion data to effectively manage each campaign. When initially setting up the feature, its best that you take the “recommended bid” to begin. You can experiment and tweak the CPA goal higher or lower from that initial setup.

Conversion Optimizer is a great tool for many advertisers, but it’s not for everyone. It’s really designed for direct response marketers, who can track conversions through Google Conversion Tracker — online purchases, or a completed form are good examples.

My suggestion is to experiment with the new tools being offered by Google. Most will make your job easier and help you improve the ROI of your campaigns.

December 30 2008

Small Business Marketing – Challenges

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In a recent survey of small business owners by the Yellow Pages Association, more than half of the respondents said that generating new customers is an ongoing challenge, and over two-thirds don’t currently outsource their marketing duties and handle everything in-house. Other challenges included: limited advertising budgets, lack of marketing knowledge (where to advertise and how to measure results), and customer retention. 

MarketingCharts 

With the abundance of marketing channels and the overall lack of marketing knowledge, the responses in this survey are not at all surprising.  I am pretty confident that the challenges are even more profound in the online marketing arena. Each of these small business owners has unique issues, but the right marketing mix is attainable with proper guidance. What surprises me is that a lot of small business owners have identified issues with their marketing efforts, but haven’t raised their hands for professional consultation from an expert. In many cases, these businesses may need some simple pointers to get on the right track to acquire new customers, improve retention rates and in many cases the outsourcing costs are well worth the investment.

If you feel that you may need some assistance with your marketing mix, please call for a free consultation — 800-787-0497.

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