Is PR the antidote to click fraud?

Public Relations to the rescue against "Dark Side of Online Advertising"? PR can't be gamed?

Click fraud has “officially” been acknowledged, it is a Business Week cover story, “click fraud, the Dark Side of Online Advertising,” as signaled by Steve Rubel, senior vice president at Edelman, the “largest independent global PR firm,” aka Micro Persuasion.

Business Week cites the click fraud point men at both Yahoo and Google; John Slade, Yahoo senior director for global product management and Shuman Ghosemajumder, Google manager for trust and safety.

I recently spoke with Ghosemajumder at length about Google’s efforts to combat click fraud and I present the interesting tidbits of insight into how Google accounts for valid vs. invalid clicks and about its mechanisms for detecting “fraudsters” in “Google “gift” to advertisers: Free Google employee clicks.”

In “Google, Yahoo click fraud audits: When will advertisers demand them?” I indicate that while the search engines say they work diligently so that click fraud is “under control,” advertisers have little more than the engines' words for proof:

A search engine telling an advertiser that click fraud is “under control” in its Pay Per Click account without allowing the advertiser to independently audit the engine’s claim, however, is as cavalier as saying, “don’t worry, you got your money’s worth.”

“You got your money’s worth,” the touted ROI justification for all that is search engine advertising, both good and bad, is not sufficient. Advertisers should be demanding their right to get “what they are charged for.”

When advertising with either Google or Yahoo, advertisers capitulate to the search engines’ modus operandi of being at once judge, jury and witness in any questioning of Pay Per Click advertising charges.

When advertising with Google, advertisers agree to accept Google’s own, internal, unverifiable, self-judgments of the “correctness” of invoiced charges…”

Rubel, not surprisingly, believes Public Relations is the antidote to waste inherent in search advertising and also in traditional advertising:

My take on all of this is that advertising is clearly at a major crossroads. The old model of throwing stuff up there and seeing what sticks is dying. Search engine marketing, while certainly effective, can have its challenges too and clearly can be gamed. Over time, people are going to say "enough." They're going to want companies to engage them in conversation before they are convinced they should buy. This is why I believe we're about to enter the golden age of PR.

PR can’t be gamed? Google does it all the time. In “Google news not 'universally accessible' I discuss Google’s determined manipulation and control of both news coverage and writers:

Google's calculated strategy at currying favor with the chosen media few with the goal of writing its own press coverage mocks Google's vaunted mission to “organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful”:

Google's shrewd "launch via favorable media" strategy shows Google:

1) organizes the world's information to its own, direct advantage,

2) limits accessibility to the world's information,

3) restrains information usefulness.

PR engages people in conversation before they buy?

Shopping magazine editorial is often a compilation of PR fueled, covert product placements. Local magazine restaurant editorial is often paraphrased press releases.

Public Relations is not the noble arm of integrated marketing communications; It is but one of its components, for both better and worse.

ALSO SEE: "Google AdWords: soon over-priced with poor ROI"