The ability to direct large amounts of unique user traffic is a power that can be wielded in many ways, including evil ways. Not too many internet marketers have access to such ability, and thus this tactic is not practiced very often.
All PPC marketers know that Quality Score is the bedrock of a successful Adwords campaign. It determines an ad’s CPC, position, and overall relevancy in the eyes of Google. If an ad has a low CTR, they have a low relevancy to that keyword, and thus have a lower Quality Score. A low Quality Score means higher CPC, lower position on the page, and therefore a worse ROI.
Quality Score is calculated by Click Thru Rate, meaning how many clicks the ad gets divided by the number of impressions an ad receives. If an ad’s average CTR begins to fall the quality score will fall, the CPC increases, and the average position falls. While Google has a very strong Click Fraud monitoring system, they do not have a system for monitoring impression levels.
So, if one could inflate impression levels for a competitor’s brand name keyword, and at the same time ensuring none of those impressions resulted in a click, your competitors Quality Score would plummet.
Which, is exactly what happened.
By using a network of high traffic links at my disposal, I was able to direct a large amount of non-relevant traffic to a competitor’s brand SERP. I directed over double the number of monthly impressions the SERP normally received, in a four hour period. At the end of this four hour period, I turned off the traffic, and turned on my own affiliate PPC campaign. My ad had the same display URL and directed to the competitors domain. Needless to say, my ad appeared in the top position, and began receiving a high CTR quickly.
Boom Sauce! (patent pending)
To all PPC marketers, watch your impression levels closely. I’m not sure how anyone would stop this from occurring, besides running to your Google Rep with Quality Score reports in hand.