Fraud is endemic for internet advertisers - with perpetrators becoming ever more innovative.
Local search advertising, now, is attracting its own breed of fraud - described as geo-listing hijackings by the Search Engine Journal. It reports that a florist in New Zealand was found guilty for hijacking competitor local business listings at Google Maps. Essentially she changed the business listings of rival companies in Google Maps to direct traffic to her own business.
"This is a real situation that can and does have an impact upon a business that is not paying attention to their local business listings," Search Engine Journal said. "If your business relies on the local consumer market for its primary revenue and you are not clear about local business listings, then you need to get caught up real quick."
For security purposes, SEJ did not identify how such changes to redirect phone numbers and web addresses can be done but did offer some suggestions to keep it from happening. First, businesses should claim their business listings at multiple local listing websites including Google Local Business Listing, Yahoo, Bing, Local.com, Ask.com and Yelp. Then regularly maintain and manage these multiple local listings, using a low-cost service if necessary.
G-Squared Interactive reports that local search tends to attract a higher rate of click fraud. Comparing invalid click rates across industries, it has seen local-centric clients receive 4 times to 5 times the percentage of invalid clicks.
The post suggests:
1. Run invalid click reports on a regular basis.
2. Break up campaigns logically. "You can run invalid click reports on an account or campaign level (but not ad group). If you lump all of your ad groups into one campaign, you won’t get as clear of a picture of the click fraud problem impacting your business."
3. Analyze log files to determine problematic IPs. "Unfortunately, Google isn’t going to provide details about the invalid clicks they find. They will just show you a total number and not reveal who is committing the click fraud."