There have been some daft claims going around recently about the volume of online ad spending going to fraudsters. However, it does seem to me that many websites are giving out vastly inflated data concerning their traffic and the number of clicks on adverts. You’d have thought this would be difficult to get away with, because it’s easy enough for advertisers to measure what they’re being sent, but I guess many advertisers can’t be bothered – or don’t want to know the truth.
Then there’s ‘click fraud’: the problem of adverts being clicked by bots. (Some people worry about ads being clicked by competitors, but I can’t believe this is a serious problem.) Bot clicking does happen, but the better ad services, led by Google, have sophisticated ways of identifying and discounting it. They know that in the long term, they’ll make more money by ‘doing a good job’.
I wonder whether all of this really matters though. Suppose you get 100 clicks at £1 and half of them were, for some reason, fraudulent. If the advertising supplier had identified these, it still has to make the same money, so it’d probably have been charging £2 a click from the outset.
At the end of the day the only thing that matters is how many quality visits the advertising gets you, and whether it was worth the money. So make sure you’ve identified what the advertising is for (generating engaged visits to the website, completing an enquiry form, etc) and how much each ‘conversion’ is worth. Then measure the conversions, and whether the total value generated by each advertising medium is more than you paid for the advertising.
For example, we supply all of our clients each month with a report from their Google Analytics, showing every source of traffic to their website, and the number of engaged visits that source generated. Against the Google Ads, we give them a figure of how many engaged visits £1000 got them. We hope they then do a comparison with other paid-for sources (including directories, some of the worst ‘traffic inflators’ we ever come across).
If you’d like us to show you how to do this sort of analysis on your website traffic, feel free to get in touch.