Click Fraud

Steve Rubel pointed out a new BusinessWeek cover story on click fraud. The article looks at:

“…a dizzying collection of scams and deceptions that inflate advertising bills for thousands of companies of all sizes. The spreading scourge poses the single biggest threat to the Internet’s advertising gold mine and is the most nettlesome question facing Google and Yahoo, whose digital empires depend on all that gold.”

While search engines have played down the scope of click fraud, BusinessWeek uncovered a “thriving click-fraud underground populated by swarms of small-time players.”

Steve’s take on all of this:

“My take on all of this is that advertising is clearly at a major crossroads. The old model of throwing stuff up there and seeing what sticks is dying. Search engine marketing, while certainly effective, can have its challenges too and clearly can be gamed. Over time, people are going to say “enough.” They’re going to want companies to engage them in conversation before they are convinced they should buy. This is why I believe we’re about to enter the golden age of PR. “

One thing is for certain, while the web changes the way we publish, the way advertisers reach their audience, and the way people consume media – the web itself must evolve beyond the bubbly expectation that Google will save us all. The great thing about the web though, there is not shortage of watchdogs.

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