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BizReport : Social Marketing : June 30, 2009


What social click fraud means for marketers

Word is out that Facebook's marketing arm could be a problem for marketers. Earlier this year the social network announced it would hit $550 million in revenue for the year. However, news that fraudsters are targeting the social network have many advertisers up in arms over this new hurdle to their business.

by Kristina Knight

According to reports, click fraud within the Facebook network is a huge problem and the social network is, thus far, not responding to advertisers' complaints or worries. This raises another question for marketers: just how safe is the social realm when it comes to advertising dollars.

Traffic solution provider Anchor Intelligence chimed in on the issue this week. Richard Sim, Vice President of Product Marketing for Anchor tells BizReport that click fraud within the social net seems to be rampant, but hopes this offers the network a chance to step up and change things - for advertisers and for the consumers within the network.

"This is going to be one of those milestones that Facebook can either react well and position itself well moving forward or it will be a big hurdle. If I were a betting man, I'd bet that Facebook will respond really well. They have a talented cadre of engineers, but at the same time I know that click fraud is a challenge just like spam is a challenge," said Sim.

The real problem, for Facebook and for other social networks, are the myriad websites that allow consumers to create their own botnets to boost signups for apps; these botnets drive monetization, click CPC ads and even spam users. Some of these 'botnets' actually advertisers for other consumers to sign into their social networking accounts to sign up for apps, break captchas or meet specific demographic information.

What can legitimate marketers to do fight fraud on social networks? The answer is much the same as fighting click fraud within paid search, fighting spam or other fraudulent clicks: pay attention to your metrics.

"You'll want to see if there are any spikes or anomalies, see if there are campaigns that have an extremely low conversion rate," said Sim. "Fraudsters typically act in bursts so you might have a campaign with a lower conversion rate over the past week, but if you look at the campaign over periods of time, you may see that the campaign could have a conversion rate that is even higher or lower than what would typically be found."

Next, Sim suggests reporting the fraud in hopes of getting a refund but warns marketers that receiving refunds from publishers is an uphill battle. Instead, he suggests reducing social spending a tad until the crisis has abated or adjusting/turning off campaigns seeing strange reports.

Finally, it never hurts to have someone on your side, a third-party such as Anchor Intelligence which can help drive legitimate traffic to your website or social pages.

"It's another level of safety for the ad dollars," Sim said. "[Third parties] give marketers more options to focus on the campaign or adjust the campaign rather than focusing on click fraud and trying to get refunds."






Tags: Anchor Intelligence, botnets, click fraud, Facebook, Facebook click fraud, fraudulent clicks, social marketing, social networks








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