Google steps up pay-per-action advertising trials

Google has announced a worldwide expansion of its test programme for pay-per-action (PPA) advertisements, a model many believe represents the future of search engine advertising.

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Google has announced a worldwide expansion of its test programme for pay-per-action (PPA) advertisements, a model many believe represents the future of search engine advertising.

The search giant has been trialling PPA adverts with a select group of advertisers. But Google will now open up the test to any advertiser worldwide that scores at least 500 advertisement conversions in 30 days through their pay-per-click or pay-per-impression campaigns.

These advertisers will be invited to participate in the test on a rolling basis as they qualify. They must have activated the Conversion Tracking feature on their AdWords campaigns, which monitors whether an advertisement click-through yielded a specific result, such as a purchase.

In pay-per-click adverts, advertisers pay whenever someone clicks on their ad, while in pay-per-impression ads, the advertisers pay when the adverts are displayed.

PPA means advertisers only pay when the person clicking on the advert completes a specific action, such as placing an order, signing up for a newsletter or registering on their site.

In this way, PPA ads are considered to be significantly less vulnerable than pay-per-click ads to click fraud, a problem some feel has the potential to seriously undermine the effectiveness of search engine advertising.

Click fraud happens when someone clicks on an advert with malicious intent. For example, a competitor may click on a rival's pay-per-click adverts in order to drive up their advertising spend. Or a publisher may click on pay-per-click advertisements on their website to trigger more commissions.

Because PPA ads trigger payment only when a concrete action is performed, they should be less vulnerable to click-fraud, which some studies have suggested accounts for 20% of all clicks.

For now, Google's PPA adverts appear only in Google's AdSense for Content partner sites. Google first acknowledged testing PPA adverts in June of last year. The system entered a formal beta phase in March.

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