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  1. #1
    Affiliate Miester my2cents's Avatar
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    Question Fraudulent PPC Clicks
    One of the things I like best about forums and Abestweb in particular is the fact I can share information with people that have a similar I would not other wise be in contact with...

    Having said that... over the past few days several of us have discussed the merits of using PPC in another thread for a certain product and the less then stellar (disappointing) success we were having...

    In this tread.. the AM posted about how most PPC SE's expect to refund a percentage of the fees collected because of fraudulent clicks....

    Well this got me thinking and doing some reseach with my stats.

    1> I gathered up my network stats... How many clicks and impressions the claim I recieved

    2> I compared this info with my PPC stats

    3> I then compared this info with my server logs...

    What I found was that I am being charged for an average 30% more clicks then I actually recieve... infact somedays the number is as high as 70%

    I sell products the convert in the 3-4% range lately I've been in the 1- 1.5% range... when calculated with clicks I'm charge for my the PPC SEs

    I expect a 10-15% loss , infact because I except this range of loss I ignore it.. and concider it a cost of doing business...

    But 30+ % is a different matter...

    the reason for this post is is simple...

    If you do PPC advertising what are your experiences... after all it's our money...

    the PPC SE owners are all multi millionaires... Why should we make the richer then they already are???

    Joe
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    that's my2cents, 'cuz I'm a legend in my own mind....

  2. #2
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    We will have to agree with my2cents has to say. It is almost a daily affair here, the traffic reported in the PPC reports and our traffic logs are always different. PPC traffic details is always almost 20-25% more than our logs. We have complained to them a few times (overture) and they invariably end up giving us a credit for the disputed clicks.

  3. #3
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    Wow, how odd that so many people are routinely charged more than what the amount of visitors they received! *sarcasm*

    Computers and math are generally pretty solid as far as being able to count things, so strange that stuff like this happens. I believe that was one of the first things computer were able to accomplish was counting things, doing math, etc... hehe

    Give em heck!!
    M.M. "Trey" Hocker III
    [url=http://www.build-a-home-bar.com]Build a Home Bar[/url]

  4. #4
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    I was CHARGED for 51 click-thrus yesterday

    The network reported NO clicks/no sales

    Hoping it's a temporary tracking problem w/ the network

  5. #5
    Affiliate Miester my2cents's Avatar
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    what got me diggin around in my stats is the 500 clicks I was charged for and no sales on a product that converts at a solid 3.5%. (personal experiences)

    Not to mention the other products I (try to) market via PPC that I am told convert in the 3-5% range for the merchant... when I run my campaigns I dont convert or my conversion is so low I loose money...

    I am in an information (get my ducks in a row) mode right now... I really want to know what others are experiencing..

    I do agree... the thing computers do best is count and keep score!!!

    Joe
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    that's my2cents, 'cuz I'm a legend in my own mind....

  6. #6
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    First, on computers counting, they actually do a lousy job of it when they start comparing notes. I look at my server logs, for example, and all of my sites seem to start their 24 hour days at a different time, programs I participate in are in different time zones and what we all count as visitors is often apples to oranges.

    That said, I agree 100% that most PPCs charge way more than what they deliver.

    Google and Overture do a pretty good job, but depending on the industry I'm promoting and what other engines, I've seen as much as 100% click fraud!

    The main reason behind it seems to be PPCs trying to build their traffic networks, and having no criteria for what partners they accept. You get affiliate programs on top of affiliate programs distributed through pay-to-click programs with clicks inflated by click bots and other fraud. The more competitive the industry (the higher the bids) the worse it is.

    When asked, some will refund some money, but most seem to turn a blind eye. I usually send log files showing large numbers of visitors that for some reason only make the initial GET request and fail to call to the .css, .js and image files it would take to serve the page. A few visitors like this are normal, but not ALL, and certainly not when they just performed a search for a highly targeted term that normally converts well.

    Those that flat deny any fraud took place get a chargeback. I'm not paying for bots...
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  7. #7
    Member Chocolate_Chicken's Avatar
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    The network reported NO clicks/no sales. Hoping it's a temporary tracking problem w/ the network
    Maybe there is not tracking problem at all.

    Maybe traffic is simply being re-redirected to a 'buddy' account.

  8. #8
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Insider "Buddy" accounts even exist in clean programs. No big deal to direct income from network clicks to any enity especially with batch reporting merchants.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  9. #9
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    If this problem weren't real, there wouldn't be PPC Auditing Service companies popping up all over the place. Type in "ppc click fraud" at Google and see them. The start of a new industry confirms the problem for me.

    I am considering WhosClickingWho (WCW), ClickDetective and ClickDefense - leaning towards WCW just from their website information.

    Two things I have yet to do before trying it:
    1) Search ABW for posts on these providers above - see what others have seen.
    2) Figure out if the info it provides will arm me better in any way than my raw server logs (I suspect Google / Overture will say they need the raw log data to issue me any refund) - guess I'll have to call my reps at each - but I don't think they'll be eager to help me pay them less (and debunk their own internal click fraud detection).

    The WCW (and the others) seems cheap enough that I'm likely to just give it a go - looks like it's a monthly fee and I can opt out whenever I want if it's not working out for me.

    This is a planned project for my biz in Q2 2005. Glad to see others are thinking about it.

    I'm guessing this thread needs to be moved to "ABestWeb Affiliate Academy -> Search Engine Insight" (seems to be mostly SEO) -or- "ABestWeb Affiliate Academy -> Effective Advertising" (seems to be mostly offline advertising) -or- maybe we need to create a PPCSE area?

  10. #10
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Also looking at this product:
    http://www.fightclickfraud.com/whatCanIdo.html

  11. #11
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    These two look the same:
    www.trackingroi.com
    www.clickdefense.com

    One says they're in Colorado and the other in Maryland - maybe their solution is something that is rebranded for each by a third party...

  12. #12
    Affiliate Miester my2cents's Avatar
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    hey donuts you have mail....

    great post..

    Joe
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    that's my2cents, 'cuz I'm a legend in my own mind....

  13. #13
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    I asked this question before but got no reply, maybe someone knows or it happened to others as well.

    I advertise one merchant with Overture, and I use my affiliate links for two products they have - I don't send visitors to my own site. It is the only merchant I advertise that way. Some days I see hundreds of hits in my stats, all happening within 5-10 minutes. I make one to multiple sales per day with this particular merchant on "normal" days. However, after I get those hundreds of hits, my sales seem to completely disappear, sometimes for more than a week without any sales at all (10 days or more is not uncommon).

    I contacted the affiliate program about it and we searched for this but found nothing. Every time this happens, my affiliate link ends with "&variegator=" sometimes followed by a number (&variegator=47), but never the same number. The referral link that was clicked is an IP address, different ones almost every time, that all link back to Inktomi. I have never seen that in any of my own logs for my own sites that I advertise with Overture or any other ppc.

    I contacted both Yahoo and Overture about this. Yahoo forwarded my email to Overture and cc'd me asking them to reply. Overture didn't have a clue what was going on, or they wouldn't say. All they told me was that I wasn't being charged for these clicks and that should be enough for me to drop the issue. Overture stopped replying to my inquiries after a while.

    All my searches led me to ONE post from ONE person on a forum where he didn't get any answers either with this same problem.

    Did Inktomi start indexing affiliate links or is this a problem of ppc fraud of some kind? From my logs of my own sites, it normally says Inktomi, Slurp, or some kind of bot, but I've never seen this variegator attached to any of the referring links.

    Anyone seen this before?

    Catwoman

  14. #14
    Affiliate Miester my2cents's Avatar
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    are you being charged? is the first question i would determine...

    If you are then I would want to know who it is...

    sounds to my like a bot of some kind or maybe someone with autoclick software hitin your URL...

    the only reason someone uses autoclick software is to get paid... meaning someone got charged...

    sounds to me like your sales are being sucked off... by someone...

    I personally dont have the techno-savvy to track this down but there are others here that do... like Ben ...

    Joe
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    that's my2cents, 'cuz I'm a legend in my own mind....

  15. #15
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Catwoman, you said "However, after I get those hundreds of hits, my sales seem to completely disappear" - that after part confused me. Does the traffic that pops all at once CONVERT and then, after that, it dies? Or does the high traffic time also lead to little or no sales?

  16. #16
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    I don't know for sure!
    I can't say for sure whether I'm being charged for any of those hits since I don't have access to weblogs because I use the affiliate links with this program and not my own site. I have to take Overture's word that I don't (that's scary, isn't it?) From all the hits, I can't determine how many are legit and how many are bullsh!t that day! When I check my Overture stats, the hits I got charged for are almost always less than the hits my affiliate stats show.

    My sales with this program are normal until the "variegator" shows up and hits my link like there's no tomorrow. That traffic does NOT convert! Then after I get these hits, my sales die completely and I get no sales for days on end. Then out of nowhere, sales are back regularly. I call it "the curse" because I have no other plausible explanation for it. This happens every single month without fail and has been happening since August last year.

    I have never seen anything with "variegator" in any of my weblogs for any of my sites, ever. I don't know if it's spyware, automatic hits, or what the hell is going on. All I can say is that it's annoying as hell and I have to shut off advertising for at least a week or I lose money every day. After about a week or so, I test the program and turn advertising on. If no sales come in within a few hours, I turn it back off. And so on until I see one new sale, then I know it's back to normal business again.

    Totally baffles me!

    Catwoman

  17. #17
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Dug around... that variegator= thingy is definitely something the Yahoo crawler leaves as it makes it way around... and Yahoo's crawler is powered by InkTomi (a company Yahoo bought for this technology in early 2003) - which is why all the IPs point back to them. And of course, Yahoo owns Overture as well.

    Sounds like their spider is crawling your Overture ads... but just a guess.

    Why it kills sales for a while afterwards? Who knows?

  18. #18
    Affiliate Miester my2cents's Avatar
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    sounds like you need to use tracking software or a tracking service to keep track of what is going on...


    JOe
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    that's my2cents, 'cuz I'm a legend in my own mind....

  19. #19
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Checked my own raw logs... found the variegator!

    66.196.72.27 - - [04/Feb/2005:05:33:12 -0500] "GET /mypage.html?source=Overture&variegator=15 HTTP/1.0" 200 53425 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Yahoo! Slurp; http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/slurp)"

    Maybe they have some kind of mechanism that clicks on my ads to make sure they're going to a live site that meets Overture PPC terms of service for landing sites or something. And maybe it's going bad when it crawls your ads. I thought Overture didn't let you do direct-to-merchant PPC - is that what you're doing with your campaign - you said you "use the affiliate links with this program and not my own site"...

    Sorry - don't have the answer for you - but definitely confirmed you're not seeing something random here. My own logs shows the variegator string roughly 20-30 times a week for any page where I'm landing Overture PPC visitors.

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