Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 31
  1. #1
    Internet Cowboy
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    4,662
    Google Sued Over Click Fraud in Web Ads
    Full Story
    I wonder what effect this will have on advertisers?


  2. #2
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Central/Western NY State
    Posts
    7,741
    Question
    Quote Originally Posted by UncleScooter
    Full Story
    I wonder what effect this will have on advertisers?
    I think it depends on how much publicity they get overall. Were they actually one of the aggrieved parties?

    So many possible marketing ploys these days . . .

  3. #3
    Sinclair Oil Lurker Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    February 8th, 2005
    Location
    WWW
    Posts
    290
    Well, no duh...
    From the article:
    Click fraud is not "fraud" as defined under the law. Rather, it is an industry term used to describe the deliberate clicking on Web search ads by users with no plans to do business with the advertiser
    that just goes with the territory. anyone who advertises, using ppc type ads, is at risk, to some degree of having that happen. On the other hand, there should be stiff penalties for companies who do this deliberately to competition.

    There is, imo, no way to completely do away wth bad clicks. Not all clicks are "fraud", though the visitor may not actually intend to do business. What's next? Page views should be discounted in cpm ads dues to a certain number f people visiting a page does not actually intend on clicking on the banner ad? I hope this lawsuit does not succeed. This whole internet marketing and advertising is "buyer beware". If click defense feels it has been wronged then they should stop advertising on Google, not keep paying for a service where they think they are getting ripped off!
    Last edited by Lurker Jones; June 29th, 2005 at 11:37 PM. Reason: spelling

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Denver
    Posts
    1,786
    I don't recall if any of the smaller PPC's have ever been sued, but I bet they have a higher fraud % than google.
    Bad clicks will be around until the industry goes to pay-per-conversion.

  5. #5
    Member Chocolate_Chicken's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 19th, 2005
    Location
    The Hen House
    Posts
    1,227
    "Bad clicks will be around until the industry goes to pay-per-conversion"

    Bad clicks will be around as long as the PPC operators continue to look away when their "traffic partners" artificially generate bogus clicks.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    4,423
    This is a good suit and with merit. As many posted in another thread a month ago, Google seemingly has stopped enforcing many of their own rules, including not pulling the plug on site scrapers and allowing ads to be delivered in ways against their rules.

    One example. They let a site scrape your affiliate site, use your content to generate content for adsense, then they both make money off your content. Google used to be quick to pull the plug on these sites, but I am seeing more and more they are not pulling the plug or pulling it very slowly - these sites hurt us. They also hurt google advertisers because they exist for no other reason to recycle traffic to make google money*

    And what if these scrapers, already scum, also practice click fraud? Who benefits, who loses?

    Chet
    *this is my own personal expierence, i am not stating this as fact, google has shut down some sites, but no where near as quickly as they did pre-ipo and they have some outstanding for months.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Denver
    Posts
    1,786
    Could a search engine have a different tolerance level for low-content sites that make them money (ppc) vs. sites that don't (aff)?
    Nah........never happen!

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 19th, 2005
    Posts
    1,270
    But what about the undetectable click fraud?
    Your competition clicking on your links every once in awhile?
    That is not even considered - they say around 20% is click fraud
    But I'll bet it's actually higher.


    SimCat - That's not beyond the realm of possibilities..
    I've seen pages in the SE's that I can't for the life of me see any other reason they would be there. SE are not honest joes..
    Last edited by AddHandler; June 30th, 2005 at 07:17 AM.

  9. #9
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    1,833
    Not all clicks are "fraud", though the visitor may not actually intend to do business. What's next? Page views should be discounted in cpm ads dues to a certain number f people visiting a page does not actually intend on clicking on the banner ad? I hope this lawsuit does not succeed.
    Lurker Jones, I don't think you have a very clear picture of the industry that's built up around click fraud. I'm not about to share exact figures, but my company spends $1000s a month on PPC traffic. In doing so, we've run into a huge amount of click fraud. Even at 20% fraud - OUCH!

    Many people think of click fraud as competitors clicking each other's ads, but there's so much more to it. Most of the really bad fraud comes from the networks of partner sites each PPC employs. These partners make money generating clicks, and some are totally unscrupulous with how they generate them.

    Some examples:

    Imagine paying $1.50 per click for a specific phrase, but find that rather than coming from search results, your clicks are coming from an adult thumbnail gallery page, where each small image is linked to an expensive keyword phrase. The surfer is clicking to see a bigger picture of the image, but get's redirected to your site, costing you money. Reporting the fraud is pointless, because the company pulls the URLs every 24 hours, and their root domains look like search engines, so the PPCs conveniently can't ever see the fraud in action.

    Now imagine that another company has a pay-to-read, pay-to-click program with 25,000 subscribers. They pay people all over the world $0.005 for every click, but they can only click each offer once per day. They get their email for the day and click through all the available offers. If your ad is among them, you could be looking at thousands of clicks. At $1.50 each, you just got screwed...

    Say another site is using a bot running behind a proxy server to cycle through ads. A bot can generate a ton of clicks. At $1.50 a click, a ton might cost a fortune!

    Most of these engines now require a minimum deposit of $100 or more to open an account. Why? Not because of the set-up costs, but because they know their traffic is garbage and you'll not be making a second deposit. You can always issue a chargeback, but it's a hassle and the time involved can be expensive.

    I personally hope A lawsuit succeeds against one of the bigger players, even if only to send a message that PPCs need to clean up their acts, and do a better job policing their partner networks or be held liable.

    If I buy an add in a magazine, their circulation better damn well not include 20 palletts dumped at the local landfill or I want my money back...
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  10. #10
    Newbie
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    42
    Google should count ONLY uniques and not raw clicks per day. If they did this, there would be no click fraud and advertisers would get what they pay for. There's no point to charging for raw clicks other than google making money that is superfluous to what they should be getting

  11. #11
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Winter Park, FL
    Posts
    6,930
    they claim that they have trouble counting uniques...

  12. #12
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    St Clair Shores MI.
    Posts
    17,328
    They also have trouble distinguishing the click bots operating from thousands of hijacked zombied systems.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  13. #13
    Newbie
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    42
    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    they claim that they have trouble counting uniques...
    hehe of course they do .

  14. #14
    .
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    2,973
    I identify click fraud in several ways, and Google could do the same thing by asking some of its AdWords sponsors to contribute data. Let me start by pointing out that I don't consider a click to be "click fraud" just because someone doesn't do what I want them to (for example, buy something).

    First, and probably most obvious, is the kind of "fraud" that I detected from Google AdWords this past week. I launched two new test campaigns, bidding at just 6 cents per click on keywords that are bid far above that (hence, my ad would rarely appear). Within 24 hours, Google reported 9 clicks on each of these ads, which are specially coded (e.g. destination page is http://www.domainname.com/example.ht...words+bid+term ). When I checked my log file, I found only TWO requests with that coding, so 7 of the 9 clicks for each term were simply "lost," probably because a clickfraudbot merely makes a request to Google without every bothering to follow up on the redirect.

    Google could test for this pretty easily, by asking some partners to volunteer to share log file data.

    Second, and nearly as easy to detect: I have purchased traffic from PPC-search-engines in the past, and received clickthroughs with very shallow "depth." By this, I mean that I would see a request in my logfile for the main page, but never (or rarely) any clickthroughs to other parts of my site. Indeed, in many cases there were never any requests for the images on the first requested page! Google could certainly test for this by simply keeping track of AdWords buyers whose destination pages contain AdSense ads. (Of course, consumer privacy software may block the ads, but Google could compare the results to statistical averages for unpaid clickthroughs.)

    Third, I have experienced fraudbots that execute a clickthrough and then randomly click on one or a few links on the destination page. I was able to detect these because I found that the distribution of click activity was radically different from regular users. For example, there would be roughly an equal number of clicks on "today's special" and on "privacy policy," whereas regular users would rarely click on the latter link.

    Fourth, and somewhat harder to detect, are "shadow bots," which monitor legitimate PPC clickthroughs, and then follow by simulating the same searches and clicks. Since the activity is mimicking the behavior of real people, it is harder to detect, especially if there are random intervals (hours, days, or even weeks) between the original and shadow activity.

    Fifth, and harder to detect, are sophisticated clickfraudbots and clickfraud-networks, where "apparently genuine" activity is generated. For example, a year or two ago, I learned of several networks that promised to pay HUMAN participants (usually in Korea or other low-income foreign countries) a penny per click for doing searches and following through with some level of activity at the destination site (browsing merchandise, for example, and sometimes adding items to a cart, but never actually buying anything). In some cases, these can be detected by including nonsense links -- links identified with non- words that would normally only be clicked by someone who does not speak English.

    Each category of clickfraud is even more difficult to detect if the fraud is perpetrated through hijacked computers or zombies -- someone in Korea may actually do the clicking and browsing, but their keystrokes are transferred to somebody's home computer in Peoria, Illinois, so the request looks like it comes from a regular cable-modem subscriber.

    As others have noted, there is another kind of "click fraud," in which someone clicks on a competitor's ad in order to deplete their budget or escalate costs so that the competitors will alter or abandon their AdWords buys. While Google can certainly monitor and erase "obvious" cases like this (for example, if I log into my AdWords OR AdSense account, and then a moment later I click on some AdWords ads from the same computer and IP address), it is difficult to set rules for this. Last month, I actually saw something in an AdWords/AdSense ad on my own web site, and I clicked through and bought something; several times, I have clicked through and signed up for an affiliate program. It seems unfair to invalidate these clicks, but in fairness they should probably be invalidated.

    We've been dealing with click fraud ever since value was associated with clicks -- even before there were sophisticated ad networks, people were generating fraudulent clicks on their own LinkExchange banners in order to get more exchange traffic. (Who else remembers LinkExchange?)

  15. #15
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    St Clair Shores MI.
    Posts
    17,328
    Tim-store has nailed it on most all PPCSE click fraud fronts. Merchants aren't the main culprets ...major merchants can't play the clickfraud games from a legality stand point unless they outsource PPCSE to a crooked partner in bed with click fraudsters. So that leaves real and CPA network affiliates as the majority group practicing click fraud. Nothing new there!

    What would be new is to have those affiliates who don't drive traffic through PPCSE get identified in their affiliate profiles. Merchants should reward them with a VIP commission rate as every darn click comes from physical click off their pre-sell pages. It's about time this industry bothered to reward honest affiliates at a higher commission rate then the sleezebags. Happypoon sure was right last year outing PPCSE affiliates as the next major source of commission fraudsters.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Nunya, Business
    Posts
    23,684
    They have something like this out:

    http://www.vericlix.com/

    I don't feel comfortable having that on my site, but if you are i guess it's something you can try.

    I asked about it here:

    http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/...light=vericlix

  17. #17
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Mansfield, TX
    Posts
    16,232
    Quote Originally Posted by ScottMN
    Google should count ONLY uniques and not raw clicks per day. If they did this, there would be no click fraud and advertisers would get what they pay for. (Emphasis Michael's)
    You must have missed Eathan's excellent post right before yours. Duplicate clicks from the same person/IP/browser is a very small problem compared to methods like the ones that Eathan mentioned.

    I ran a CPC "affiliate" program for many years, and I've seen tons of click fraud. Some is more sophisticated than others. Some is even more sophisticated than Eathan described. Some is very, very difficult to detect.

    I think it's ironic that Google is the one being sued, when their PPC program is probably the cleanest in the industry. Overture is close. Nothing else even compares. I would have rather seen someone go after the #3 PPC program, whoever that is. (FindWhat? I'm not sure.) I guess they figure Google has deeper pockets, which is certainly true.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  18. #18
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    St Clair Shores MI.
    Posts
    17,328
    Just Google "reward programs" (notice#1 ugh) or browse http://www.comparerewards.com/ and the various "Get Paid To...." sites and you'll get an idea of all the professional and wannbee PPCSE click fraudsters out there.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  19. #19
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    1,833
    tim-store, nice post and yes, I remember LinkExchange (LinkExchange Digest discussion list as well). And Michael, thanks.

    I think one of the other major issues here isn't so much detection, but getting anything done about it.

    It feels like I could spend all day identifying fraud in my logs, documenting everything that's happenning and passing it along to the engine ultimately responsible, only to get another stack of lame emails - "We take fraud very seriously. Unfortunately, I'm not seeing the page you are referring to. Can you tell me anything more about the fraud you believe took place? Did your traffic spike, conversions, drop, blah blah?". I'm usually left with the feeling that I've just wasted another hour or two and am being asked to waste more. If it meant another fraudster was dropped from the network, great, but it doesn't.

    I've issued chargebacks in some cases, removed campaigns or stopped advertising in others, but there's little more I can do to force the engine's hand. Overture and Google do a decent job, but until the legality issues really start hitting the fan, nobody has to do a great job...

    As for who gets sued first, pick one. They all make money charging advertisers for clicks they know are fraudulent, or could easily detect as such if they stopped turning a blind eye. The first one down could help set a precedent that eventually cleans up the industry.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  20. #20
    Full Member Travelin Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    409
    @Eathan & Tim

    I too have taken great pains to track and monitor click fraud both with tracking scripts and the use of 3rd parties. You have hit the problems I see exactly!!!

    Man, I have proven beyond a doubt to the SEs that click fraud has taken place and they just stonewall and act stupid. They're just like some of the networks making their money so why should they care? I won't spend any more of my ad money on these wanks until something is done to clean up the industry.

    Merchants, why do you waste your money????

    Great posts guys!
    Travelin' Man

    "If you don't know where you are going, any road will lead you there." -- unknown

  21. #21
    .
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    2,973
    Travelin Man wrote: "I have proven beyond a doubt to the SEs that click fraud has taken place and they just stonewall and act stupid."

    That's not the reaction I have received in most cases. Usually,
    I am asked for log files and any other evidence, and someone studies
    the information and then issues a credit for the proven fraud
    after a week or so. Back in the day, Overture (under both that name
    and earlier as Goto.com) was willing to credit me back for all the clicks from nearly every Asian IP address, after I showed the pattern and gave them a spreadsheet showing which IP addresses were routed to Asia. (I haven't tested them since shortly after they raised the minimum bid to 10 cents, and certainly not since Yahoo acquired them.)

    To its credit, when I suspended my Google AdWords campaigns, their
    site automatically added a "Can We Help?" box to my report page, asking
    me to submit questions and details about why I suspended the campaigns. (I think I submitted that on Friday morning, so I can't predict the response.)

    I did get the stonewall reaction from a couple of smaller PPC search engines (I named them in a series of public postings at that time, and they never questioned that I was right), who were clearly happy to accept the money for fraudulent traffic -- this was several years ago and I haven't tested the small-fry PPC search engines again, except for a couple who provide free test campaigns (and in those cases I immediately detected 90% fraud levels, so
    I didn't put any real money into their hands, and I don't even waste my time any more).

    By the way: When I do run Google AdWords campaigns, they almost always exceed my modest budgets for many keywords and campaigns. I often set the my test-campaign budgets at less than a dollar a day, and Google AdWords usually exceeds that for about half my campaigns. At the end of the month, they credit these "overages" back to my account, automatically. It took a while to figure that out, and I was mad while I thought I was being overdelivered and overcharged, but when I learned about the reversals I was satisfied. (It would be interesting to see how Google accounts for this internally -- do they pay content sites for the traffic, or adjust it away from them, and do they report the entire amount as revenue to inflate their numbers for the stock market?)

  22. #22
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    St Clair Shores MI.
    Posts
    17,328
    All the legit enities in the affiliate industry benefit emensely from all the outing contributors at ABW. Imagine where we'd all be if this board was not willing to go out on the limb ..so to speak. We all strive to put more value in a click for our chosen merchants and shoppers and rightfully demand compensation for this extra effort.

    Forced click cookie stuffers and forced click PPCSE sleazebags burden this entire industry with the commission drains and bad PR rap put in place by the fraudsters. Keep it up and some day those who are 2 faced Adwhores playing both sides of the fence will face the music for their greed driven tricks.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  23. #23
    Sinclair Oil Lurker Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    February 8th, 2005
    Location
    WWW
    Posts
    290
    it goes with the territory, unfortunately
    Quote Originally Posted by Eathan
    Lurker Jones, I don't think you have a very clear picture of the industry that's built up around click fraud. I'm not about to share exact figures, but my company spends $1000s a month on PPC traffic. In doing so, we've run into a huge amount of click fraud. Even at 20% fraud - OUCH!

    Imagine paying $1.50 per click for a specific phrase, but find that rather than coming from search results, your clicks are coming from an adult thumbnail gallery page, where each small image is linked to an expensive keyword phrase. The surfer is clicking to see a bigger picture of the image, but get's redirected to your site, costing you money. Reporting the fraud is pointless, because the company pulls the URLs every 24 hours, and their root domains look like search engines, so the PPCs conveniently can't ever see the fraud in action.
    Can you say "buyer beware"? I whole heartedly believe that fighting click fraud is a worthwhile cause. Abolishing click fraud, completely, is impossible. So, yes, I do think the lawsuit against Google is not good, due to the fact that it can not be completely done away with. The only alternative is to cease the adwords, which I am sure, competition, who could very well be behind this, would love.

    I could never see myself, especially from my understanding of conversion metrics, would never pay the buck and a half for a frigging click through. I definitely would not be paying the 10-12 dollars, or even thirty plus I have seen in the OverSure bid tools. DAYUM!

    For those of you who think the lawsuit is good, please tell me your solution to this mess. If you don't have one, that is viable, and practical for the entire industry, then stop using ppc. simple.
    Last edited by Lurker Jones; July 2nd, 2005 at 10:39 PM. Reason: additional comment

  24. #24
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Mansfield, TX
    Posts
    16,232
    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker Jones
    I could never see myself, especially from my understanding of conversion metrics, would never pay the buck and a half for a frigging click through.
    I had some tremendous keywords where I was paying up to $2 per click in December. (I would have paid more, but that got me the #1 or #2 position.) I was getting about a $500 commission per order and seeing nearly a 2% conversion ratio from my Google and Overture traffic, so it was worth up to about $9 per click to me. Unfortunately, the merchant stopped selling those products and there hasn't been a suitable replacement.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  25. #25
    .
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    2,973
    Google Denies Clickfraud, can't explain phantom clicks
    I sent the following message to Google on Friday:

    After adding a couple new experimental campaigns, I checked my log files. Unfortunately, I have discovered that out of 9 clickthroughs claimed [by Google AdWords] in each campaign, only 2 clicks actually resulted in requests at my site -- in other words, the clicks are apparently being "lost" during the redirect phase.

    I don't know if this is a click-fraud issue, a technical problem, unusual robot activity, or just an extraordinary coincidence, and certainly this is an extremely tiny sample size -- but I am quite concerned about this discrepancy, and I have suspended all campaigns.


    Since Google had actively sought my feedback about why I'd suspended my campaigns, I assumed I'd get a meaningful response. I did not. They wrote:


    Date: Tue, 05 Jul 2005 14:11:55 -0700
    From: "AdWords Support" <adwords-support@google.com>
    To: [tim-store.com]
    Subject: Re: [#29128954] Clickthroughs not arriving

    Thank you for your email about your concerns regarding the discrepancy you noticed in your log files. Once a user clicks on your Google AdWords ad, the site specified in the destination URL should be loaded instantly in their browser. It is possible that your log files are not tracking all requests to your site.

    Using our analysis tools and researching traffic patterns in your account, our team was also unable to find any evidence of invalid clicks in your account. The clicks you have received to your AdWords account are typical of normal user behavior. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

    Please be assured that we strictly prohibit any method used to artificially generate clicks or page impressions and take great efforts in closely monitoring clicks on Google AdWords ads to prevent abuse. Any evidence that suggests abusive behavior will be taken very seriously.

    Sincerely,

    Jason
    The Google Click Quality Team



    Based on this response, I suspect that Google is NOT taking reasonable steps to detect and respond to click fraud. Unfortunately, there is no way for me to research this, since only Google knows who supposedly clicked on my ad (I only know about those requests which were actually received at my site).<P>

    Yes, this is a small sample size, and is not statistically significant; no, I am not going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to try to document the problem. But yes, I am going to launch another very small test campaign, to see if the problem reoccurs.

+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Googles Click Fraud Rate is Less than 2%
    By Trust in forum Search Engine Optimization
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: December 26th, 2006, 04:26 AM
  2. 'Click Fraud' Threatens Foundation of Web Ads
    By Allen Nance in forum Suspicious Activity!
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: October 22nd, 2006, 10:01 PM
  3. Google opens up on Click Fraud
    By danay in forum Search Engine Optimization
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: August 8th, 2006, 12:33 PM
  4. Google to Pay $90M in 'Click Fraud' Case
    By ~Michelle in forum Midnight Cafe'
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: May 22nd, 2006, 12:12 PM
  5. Google Click Fraud Case costs them 90 million
    By ecomcity in forum Search Engine Optimization
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: March 9th, 2006, 10:23 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •