(Social media) click fraud and other nasty stuff: How do you deal with it?

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This YouTube video by Derek Muller (Veritasium) raises some disturbing issues about Facebook click fraud, suggesting how distortions caused by fraudulent “like” farms in third world countries have even mucked up the like-buying process through the social media sites’ own pay-for-views/likes systems. Although I don’t think Facebook intentionally seeks to support the fraud (as Muller implies), this video reminds me of the sometimes unexpected and unfortunate consequences when well-meaning systems go wrong in the globalized economy.

Certainly, there are problems with both Facebook and Google AdWords/AdSense in fraudulent and therefore ineffective advertising because of the incredibly large, cheap and often desperate labour pool in third-world countries. The ineffectiveness devalues the advertising and makes it more risky than it should be for businesses dipping in the online advertising waters.

Are there ways around these problems? You can of course become an expert on the new social/search media and then design your campaigns as best as possible to minimize the fraud risk/damage. Or you can hire consultants to help you out. However, the latter environment has another layer of risk — because the consultants you will most likely discover through your email inbox or Internet search may be the fraudsters themselves or, sadly, businesses that have greater interest in churning your cash quickly than in carefully studying and understanding the best strategy for your own organization.

Your safest approach: Look for non-competitive businesses in your market niche who appear to be doing it right and ask how/who they are using, and piggyback on these relationships. (Your chances of finding these referrals are highest through relevant industry associations.)

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