Advertising Online - A Guide to Successful Market Penetration Part Three: Geo Targeting and Fraud Protection

  • Written By: Deborah Kilpatrick
  • Published On: January 18 2003



Geo Targeting and Fraud Protection Programs

Pay-Per-Click search engine traffic is a popular means of bringing qualified users to sites. Technology has evolved tremendously, allowing the targeting and tracking abilities of an engine to supply PPC campaigns with less advertising and more of a direct marketing platform. However, while the theory is sound, the traffic being supplied may not always be real. (This is why it is important to list with a reputable engine that has strict fraud detection programs). On the flip side, the same type of technology used to identify and suppress certain types of traffic can also be used for good geo targeting can supply geographically specific traffic to your site.

Any reputable search engine offering fraud detection programs should maintain at least three separate and different methods of fraud detection, and should have a strict policy of filtering those fraudulent clicks detected back to the advertiser at no charge. The frequency cap on click traffic is one such measure. During a predetermined period of time a frequency cap, or filter, will reject all duplicate clicks from the same IP address that are made to the same URL for a single query. The longer the time period, the better ROI you can expect.

While frequency capping is efficient, it does not solve the entire problem. A checksum value should also be attached to an advertisers' URL. This ensures that any click transaction being performed on that URL is being executed in a live search environment and not being looped by a script. Similar to applying a checksum to the search URL, the application of a session id based on the time of the search is also effective. This embeds an expiry time on the search URL and will refuse any click transactions if they occur after a predetermined period of time.

For example, if a click to your link happens 2 hours after the actual search occurred, one could safely assume that some form of caching has occurred and that the transaction did not happen in a live search environment. There are some risks for the publisher in discarding good transactions as some user sessions could run past the expiry time, yet most agree that the interest of the advertiser is paramount, and that the loss is minimal.

This is Part Three of a three-part article on successful online advertising.

Part One addressed the question "Why Internet Advertising?"

Part Two covered Keyword Advertising.

Geo-Targeting

For North American, or English speaking countries, search engines use a final effective means of limiting fraud activity - by discounting click traffic coming from countries in which English is not the standard language. All ISPs are given blocks of IP addresses to supply to their clients. The first segment of digits on the IP address acts much like a country code and identifies which ISP, and in which country, the IP address originates.

This is how traditional geo-targeting works and can be an effective means for eliminating fraud. When checking your log files, if you notice a lot of click traffic coming from one IP address, you can trace its origin by visiting the American Registry of Internet Numbers. After feeding the IP address into their "whois" search, it will tell you who has been assigned that IP address, whether this is an ISP or another business entity. Should the IP address not be assigned to the Americas, you can verify RIPE Network Coordination Center for all Russian, European, and Middle Eastern registries or the Asia Pacific Network Information Center.

Good filtering techniques and policies are important, but cannot act as a substitute for human intervention. No publisher has the ability to catch everything before it happens. Taking the time to review your click log files and to inform your publisher of any anomalies will help prevent further abuse and, more importantly, save you money.

On a positive note, if the search engine that you list with is able to discount clicks based on IP addresses, it is likely they have geo targeting available to its advertisers. It is quickly becoming an industry standard. Most search engines that employ a geo-targeting program for search and/or banner advertisers, notice a dramatic increase in clickthrough rates. It is akin to asking for only certain type of traffic to come to your site based on a geographic parameter. If you would like to only have users come to your site from the west coast or even a specific city, this is entirely possible. Geo targeting is the first step to directing specific types of users to your site in the future it may be able to be directed by many other types of profiles as the technology becomes more refined.

This concludes Part Three of a three-part article on successful online advertising.

Part One addressed the question "Why Internet Advertising?"

Part Two covered Keyword Advertising.

About the Author

Deborah Kilpatrick has been employed at Mamma.com since August 2001 and currently holds the position of Product Marketing Manager. Previous work employment includes Marketing Specialist at Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc. and Marketing Research Specialist at Marconi Communications (a telecommunications firm). She holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Marketing from the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University.

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Mamma.com Inc., The Mother of all Search engines (NASDAQ: INTA), is one of the world's largest Meta-search engines. Mamma.com uses its meta-search technology to search multiple engines, directories and other information sites, combining their results and returning only the top listings. Mamma.com not only retrieves top results for the user, the engine also distributes results to a network of over 2,000 sites, with accumulated traffic of over one million unique users a month. This setting is the ideal marketplace for buyers and sellers to meet, and Mamma.com's core competency is built around fostering this environment.

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