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Wednesday
Mar252009

Plastic Surgeon & Dermatologist Marketing Online: Is click fraud draining your advertising budget?

If you're one of the thousands of plastic surgeons, dermatologists, laser clincs and medical spas advertising online with Google Adwords or Yahoo, don't be surprised to find that at least some of the money you're paying every month is generated by click fraud.

Don't think it's happening to your skin clinic? Here's a quote from Michael Caruso, CEO of click fraud services vendor ClickFacts in an interview with Marketing Sherpa:

In some particularly fraud prone verticals such as finance, class action lawsuits and medical, ClickFacts sees rates in the 30%-45% range. These are all categories that see high keyword pricing in the auction model. That makes them particularly tasty for click fraud artists. “If you can make more money from the dark side than the light side of search, there are plenty of people who will take advantage. Plus, it’s not even technically illegal yet.

Two ways that your plastic surgery or medical spa marketing budget is being drained:

Competitors who see your ad simply click on it, draining your advertising dollars, or 'affiliate' sites are set up that run your ads where they are clicked on by bots or employees. These sites are the most damaging since you're paying for every click without any return. Click fraud for medical spas can be very lucrative since medspas are becoming such a competitive market and the payment per click can be as high as $4-5.

To keep your budget safe you have very few tools. Google just advertisers $90 million to compensate for click fraud as the result of a class action suit but you can bet they're not that interested in your individual account. Especially since they're making money from click fraud too.

Start by limiting your exposure to click fraud. If you're still running an Adwords or Yahoo campaign, they allow you to limit the maximum amount you spend in a day. Take advantage of this feature by limiting your maximum cost to what you can afford to spend. You can also look for the tracks of click fraud by examining the reports you might have available to you. Multiple clicks coming from the same IP address are a sure sign of fraud.

Malaysia has become such a haven for click fraud 'sweat-shops' that clicks generated there are completely discounted and Malaysian accounts for Adwords or Overture are not granted.

If you're going to run search ads, try to protect yourself. You can be sure that you're the only one trying to.

Reader Comments (11)

Google filters fraud clicks.... The filtering process may not be perfect but it is something.

03.26 | Registered CommenterK Si

K Si is correct that Google does a pretty good job of filtering 'networked click fraud'. But, the first item is right on. Competitors clicking on your adwords can damage if not drain your account.

03.26 | Unregistered CommenterSEO Medspa

What exactly does Google do when you say they filter the clicks? Adwords gets extremely expensive. I recently "paused" my Laser Hair advertising as the cost per click was approaching $10.00. I don't see on the report page where I can get a print out of the IP addresses to see if there are repeats.

03.26 | Unregistered CommenterInnovaMed

@InnovaMed, Google hides pretty much all of that information to prevent click fraudsters from using it to get around the safeguards. They look at every click and scrape out those that they think have a high likelihood of being fraudulent. They'll look at IP address, number of clicks , how fast, how much time was spent on the ad site ect. Since they have the biggest pool of data available they say they're pretty good at click fraud detection.

Repeated clicks don't necessarily mean it's fraud. It's common for visitors on this site to click a number of the ads. And, it's not illegal to click on your competitors ads. Your competitor med spa or laser clinic may sue you but you're really just clicking on their laser hair removal ad that's presented to you... Hope that adds a little clarity. We'll be delving into this further in coming posts.

It is ILLEGAL to pay for a referral (pay per click) IF YOU ARE A DOCTOR. The medical board has been cracking down on this in California.

03.26 | Unregistered CommenterLA MD

LA MD,

I find this hard to believe. How can this be considered a STARK violation, fee splitting, or patient brokering? You are paying a marketing fee to be placed in front of people who are searching for services you provide. Now if you only pay when a pt comes in for a service that may be a different "legal" matter. If all parties involved provide a professional service (marketing is one) there is no violation. This would make ALL marketing illegal, print, radio, TV, billboards, etc.... Providers are allowed to advertise with certain well defined restrictions in each state statute.

Could you send me a link to see the details of this, I'm curious.

03.27 | Unregistered CommenterFlorida PA

InnovaMed ...u can always setup maximum you want to spend per click ...they will rank your ad lower but u probably would still get hits.....are u checking how many of your clients are coming through google adwords?

03.28 | Unregistered Commenterjc

google clicks cant be considered referral.....you are just providing informnation to the patients ...they dont have to buy your services

03.28 | Unregistered Commenterjc

Florida PA,

I can do better and show you the cease and desist letter I received from the Med Board! If you pay a flat fee you are fine BUT if you pay per click thats problem. My lawyer helped me out but it is still in my file. If you are not an MD it is not a problem. I am just making folks aware of what is going on in California....

I will look for a link as well to the official position.

:)

03.29 | Unregistered CommenterLA MD

Google has been known to refund the advertisers if there is click fraud. The advertisers should be more aware of their advertising campaigns if this is the case. It definitely does and will happen.

03.30 | Unregistered CommenterAce

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