Ad Impersonation Is The New Click Fraud

Lori Weiman wrote an interesting piece on Search Engine Land a few hours ago, the article focused on a different type of click fraud.  PPC Ad impersonation occurs when an impostor advertiser takes a well known website address, and uses it as the display URL of their own advertisement.

From the article:

When you first hear about PPC fraud rings, you tend to think of click fraud where an automated system, not a real person, is generating fake clicks on an advertiser’s ad. However, PPC impersonation is actually a much larger problem than click fraud, and marketers need to be watching to ensure their brand isn’t negatively impacted.

Click fraud was a bigger issue in the past, but now is mostly dealt with by tighter controls from the search engines. Ad impersonation has overtaken click fraud and is now the prevalent form of fraud on PPC advertising. The search engines are only just beginning to work with vendors like The Search Monitor (full disclosure: my employer) to identify it and take it down.

In May 2014, The Search Monitor detected fraudulent PPC ads running on Bing, Yahoo, and Google. The fraudsters impersonated more than 300 advertisers on a global scale.

The fraud was not confined to any particular type or size of company. It spanned several industries, including leading businesses in automotive (JC Whitney), home furnishings (Joss & Main), software (MobiStealth), printing (Tiny Prints), home & garden (Ace Hardware), travel (BookingBuddy), firearms (Brownell’s), and services (Deluxe).

Read the full article to see some real life examples that Weiman discovered.


  1. Louise says

    Great find, @ Raymond Hackney! The article you linked to is worth a read, as is

    How to Catch an Affiliate Red-Handed in PPC

    experience of Eric Coach, who experienced Adwords performance decline. His conclusion? Check search engine results page FIRST to find renegade affiliate.

    Will have to bookmark the articles, alongside fake web traffic, click fraud, click arbitrage, fraud botnet articles which have appeared lately on AdWeek and in the advertising world. The “Green Group/VIP status/Untouchables” exposed by the Google Adsense fraud whistleblower supplies a missing link why some publishers get a free pass, while others get censored . . . Google has now bought Adometry, which detects click fraud, and – wonder if The Search Monitor is next? Keep it in-house . . .

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