HitTail Click Fraud Protection

ML Jul 3, 2006

One of the bigger pieces of news recently on the search front has been Yahoo’s settlement in the click fraud case. It’s interesting to see Yahoo’s admittance that it is a problem vs. Google’s Clintonesque admitting no wrong-doing and sticking to it. Not that a settlement is legal precedent, but it does send a message to the marketing world that click fraud is indeed a real problem.

Earlier last month, Bruce McDermott was kind enough to post on Search Insider that marketers might look to alternatives to pay-per-click, such as HitTail, as the ultimate cure to click fraud. We were happy to see that people in the field were “getting it”, and the settlement story actually hit in ClickZ on the 28th, which was the Saturday leading into a 4-day holiday weekend for many, dampening the effect.

Anyway, we wanted to get out this post on the HitTail site for when people start catching up on news, post-July 4th. We could be positioned for a very big win, picking up people searching for protection from click fraud. But instead of merely using HitTail as a natural search alternative to pay-per-click, thus protecting yourself by getting out of the PPC game, may we suggest another option eluded to by TheScubaGuy, Gary Beal.

Gary points out that by using the very keyword lists that are known to lead to your site in PPC campaigns, you are activating some special magic that makes those campaigns much more effective in terms of click-through, thus driving down your per-click cost. Once again, there’s a bit of counter-intuitive logic embedded in the HitTail effect. How could using keywords that NATURALLY lead to your site improve sponsored click through?

Perhaps it’s because on keywords where people are known to find you many pages in, you now instantly occupy the first page–actually, in a great many instances. Perhaps getting identical hits on both the natural and the sponsored sides triggers off some cross-validation logic. Whatever the special magic is, one thing is for sure. Competitors who are perpetrating click-fraud are less likely to find your sponsored listings! Why? Because they’re obscure, as they are derived from data that effectively only you are privy to, and they would never THINK to search on.

That’s right! If you use narrow-matching on these campaigns instead of broad matching, your sponsored listings will come up only on the “unexpected”, yet still highly effective terms. You basically throw your competitors onto the wrong scent. Continue to run campaigns on those mainstream keywords that the suggestion tools tell you. But minimize your funding of those campaigns, thereby minimizing clickfraud risk.

Instead, heavily fund the high click-thru ratio campaigns supercharged by HitTail. Use narrow matching instead of broad. And your most effective campaigns go into a sort of stealth mode–hiding in the long green canopy that is the long tail.

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