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Click Fraud A Worry For Most; Confirmed Problem For Many

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SEMPO has released stats about click fraud drawn from the The State of Search Engine Marketing 2004 survey it released in December. The stats show that concern over the issue far outweighs those who have seriously tracked it happening. However, a significant number have tracked and found it to be a problem.

The chart below shows responses to a key question from the survey, "In your experience, how much of a problem is 'click fraud' with regard to paid placement?"

Statement

SEM Firms
& Agencies

All Marketers

Small Marketers

Big Marketers

We have not tracked it much, but we are worried about it

43%

45%

36%

58%

It is not a significant concern

23%

26%

28%

23%

It is a moderate problem we have tracked

30%

19%

21%

15%

This is a significant problem we have tracked

4%

6%

10%

0%

Never heard of it before

0%

5%

5%

4%

Among those who are worried but haven't really tracked the problem, those most worried are big marketers, companies with 500 or more employees who purchase listings directly from search engines, rather than through a third party. They rank significantly more than other categories, as I've highlighted in bold on the chart above.

Among those who've tracked, SEM firms and agencies stand out as finding it a moderate problem more than small or big marketers. Overall, 30 percent ranked it this way, well above the closest group after them, small marketers at 21 percent.

Small marketers stand out as being the only class responding in double-digits that click fraud is a significant problem, with 10 percent of them saying this is so.

In the chart below, I've recombined the numbers to give what I think is a better overall picture. I've grouped anyone who has tracked and feels there is a problem (moderate or significant) together. I've also grouped those who said it wasn't a concern along with the few who said they'd never even heard of click fraud.

Statement

SEM Firms & Agencies

All Marketers

Small Marketers

Big Marketers

Worried But Haven't Tracked

43%

45%

36%

58%

Problem That Has Been Tracked

34%

25%

31%

15%

Not
Worried

23%

31%

33%

27%

In doing this, it's easier to see that while click fraud remains more a worry than known reality to most groups, significant numbers have tracked and confirmed it to be some type of a problem.

In particular, it's notable that among the two classes with the most reason to worry about the issue -- SEM firms/agencies and small marketers -- about one-third responded it was a confirmed problem. I've bolded both in the chart.

Why do those two groups have the most reason to worry? Small marketers must closely watch their budgets. SEM firms and agencies do as well, as they may be paid off of overall spend and performance.

In contrast, big marketers may not watch as closely in my view because overall, the amount they spend on search marketing is still likely dwarfed by other types of advertising spends. They're worried it might be a problem, but the time to track it probably isn't deemed worthwhile, so far.

Now here's one more chart to consider. In this one, I combined all those who have expressed some type of concern there's a problem together:

Statement

SEM Firms & Agencies

All Marketers

Small Marketers

Big Marketers

Worried

77%

70%

67%

73%

Not Worried

23%

31%

33%

27%

As you can see, the vast majority of all classes are worried about the issue, regardless of whether they've tracked it. Interestingly, the class that is least worried are small marketers.

Aren't they the ones I said might be most interested in monitoring their budget? Yes -- and it may also be that those who aren't worried have also investigated and found for their bids, it's not a problem. They might in niche areas where there's not much competition.

For more on this topic, see the Search Ads: Clickfraud area of Search Topics.


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