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Hibu Pay Per Click – is it a scam?

Hibu’s Pay Per Click Scam

I believe Hibu’s pay per click programs (also known as Web Reach) to be a scam.  Hibu does not divulge their markups (even though Google requires them to do so) and they intentionally withhold important AdWords and Analytics data from their customers – EVEN WHEN THEIR CUSTOMERS REQUEST IT!  Since Hibu sets up an AdWords account for you, they could easily give you read only access to that AdWords account – but they won’t.  Instead, they will send you very vague monthly reports (if you request one) or give you online access to the same vague data.  These vague reports will not contain any data that makes it look like your program is not doing well.  If you want to know where your clicks are coming from, how much they really cost, or what the bounce rate for certain keywords are, you can forget it. Hibu’s monthly reports are one of the  reasons I call them an outright Pay Per Click Scam Company.  It’s not what’s in the report that makes Hibu one of the worst pay per click re-sellers out there, it what’s NOT in the reports.  The “conversion” reports they provide you give you very little information, and what they present as “conversions” are hardly that.   Sure you might get a report that says you have 40 phone calls, and 200 clicks.  Let’s say your budget is $800.  Hibu will present this as a “cost per call” of $20 and try to convince you to do your R.O.I. that way.  What if 35 of those 40 calls were from existing customers that Googled your name?  They will never share ACTUAL COST, QUALITY SCORE, BOUNCE RATE or other valuable metrics with you.

Hibu’s Pay Per Click Markup

Hibu has an alleged (and a minimum from what I hear) markup of 40% on their clicks!  40% of your budget is spent before you ever get a single click from Google!  Given that the bulk of their customers have an average monthly budget of $800 – you will pay Hibu, on average, $3,840 per year to plug in a bunch of broad matched keywords and send traffic to your home page (in most cases that I’ve seen, this is what they do).  You might want to think twice before you sign a contract with Hibu to run YOUR Pay Per Click program. Speaking of YOUR’s – that’s exactly what this is.  It’s YOUR AdWords Account – YOUR Data – YOUR Money.  Why on earth would you give someone your hard earned money to NOT HAVE ACCESS TO ALL INFORMATION AVAILABLE?

Red Flag

Is Hibu Defrauding it’s customers?

I have recently completed a thorough review of a Hibu “WebReach” campaign.  If you are not familiar with the term “WebReach” – it is Hibu’s term for the suite of internet marketing “services” (services is put in quotes because it is my belief that what they provide is anything but a “service”) they offer.   The primary product in Hibu’s “WebReach” program is Google AdWords.  Hibu is a large re-seller of Google AdWords.

What I found in this review was shocking.   I expected the standard limited information in the reports provided by Hibu.  I expected withholding info like Bounce Rate, Match Type, Search Query etc.  Hibu did not disappoint in those areas.  I did NOT expect to find evidence of fraud (alleged).

I discovered Hibu reporting phone calls received from Organic Visitors as if they were from a Paid Click.  Yes – you read that right.  Hibu is reporting (at least in this case) all website phone calls as if they came from the Pay Per Click Campaign!

How I discovered this:

It was originally an accident.  This customer paid me to also do an SEO review of their Hibu created website.  To get to the website, I did a Google search for the company name in one of the cities they are located.  I found their organic listing.  In the Title of the organic listing, you can clearly see the customers phone number (which is in the title tag on the page that showed up in the organic listing).  When I clicked the ORGANIC link, the phone number on the page was replaced with the tracking number.  The same tracking number that is being used for the Pay Per Click Campaign Reports!

Is Hibu intentionally misleading customers?   

I don’t know, but I don’t see any way that this could be an accident.  I took a look at the java script code that is used to dynamically change the numbers and the code says “look for (xxx) xxx-xxxx and replace it with (yyy) yyy-yyyy”.  Call tracking scripts for Google AdWords campaigns are usually a bit more complex.  Normal AdWords Call Tracking (or call tracking for any purpose) would look for the source of the website visitor and IF the source of the visitor matches the predefined parameters, it would then replace the phone number on the page with a tracking number.  That’s why it’s called DYNAMIC CALL TRACKING.  Dynamic Call Tracking can be used to insert a tracking number for any reason.  You can use this code to insert a tracking number for visits from Campaign A, and a different tracking number for visits from Campaign B.  You could track visitors from Yahoo vs. visitors from Bing.  The possiblities are endless.  What you should never do is just arbitrarily replace phone numbers on websites!

Why have Hibu’s Google AdWords “Expert”s not discovered this problem?

This was a major red flag on an account that is spending between $12,000 & $15,000 per month on Pay Per Click advertising with Hibu.  I would expect a lot more attention to detail on an account spending this much money. The first thing I noticed when looking at the, very vague, Hibu campaign report was the insanely high (and utterly useless) “Click to Call Ratio”.  The “Click to Call Ratio” percentages reported by Hibu to this customer were:

  1. Campaign A – 62%
  2. Campaign B – 45%
  3. Campaign C – 111%
  4. Campaign D – 31%
  5. Campaign E – 233%
  6. Campaign F – 21%
  7. Campaign G – 35%
  8. Campaign H – 54%
  9. Campaign I – 94%
  10. Campaign J – 22%
  11. Campaign K – 28%
  12. Campaign L – 54%
  13. Campaign M – 58%
  14. Campaign N – 25%

I am not making these numbers up!  There is NO WAY IN HELL that a pay per click campaign is driving that many phone calls to a customers business!

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I then took a look at the call detail report.  When I removed duplicate phone calls and calls under 1 min 30 seconds – the total calls reported by Hibu for the month dropped from 763 down to 225!  Keep in mind – this is the number of ALL CALLS for the month – not just the paid ones.  However – even if you assumed that all 225 of the calls that were left on this report were from paid clicks – you have no way of knowing how many are from existing customers and how many are from potential new customers.  Based on that fact alone, this data is almost useless in telling you how a campaign is performing.  But – forgetting that for a minute – let’s use 225 calls as our number.  Is that worth over $12,000 that the customer spent?  Maybe, maybe not – but doesnt’ Hibu owe it to it’s cusotmers to report ACCURATE #’s and let the custoemr decide?  Even if EVERY one of the phone calls was from a paid click visitor – the real “Cost Per Call” reported by Hibu would be over $53 (and that’s giving them credit for EVERY SINGLE CALL).  The reality is, I doubt even 30% of those calls are from paid visitors and an even smaller percentage of those calls are from potential new clients that were also from a paid source.

Conclusion: 

I realize that this is only one example from one Hibu customer.  It may be jumping the gun a bit but I can’t see how this is an accident.  It is my opinion that Hibu is intentionally misleading customers with these monthly reports in an effort to make customers believe that they are getting great results from these poorly run campaigns.  Do you have a Hibu Pay Per Click Campaign?  What are the click to call ratio’s?

The bottom line is this – if you are paying Hibu to run a pay per click campaign you should seriously consider cancelling your contract as soon as possible.

Disclaimer:  if you are wondering – yes I offer PPC services to my clients.  No I didn’t write this just to get business.  I wrote this so that you will have the information necessary to make good decisions about how you spend your hard earned money – whether you do business with me or not.  That said – if you are interested in how it is that I crush Hibu Pay Per Click campaigns (in both price & performance) – feel free to reach out to me.  I’d love to talk more.  

Chad Musgrove