What is click fraud ?

I was perusing my Icerocket RSS feed on my name. (Got to see who is saying what about me right🙂. Lo and behold, there was an article on click fraudsaying that it was lower than some, namely me and Henry Blodgett had predicted, from former Alta Vista-ite and current Microsoftie Don Dodge.

I have never given click fraud estimates, but I did say on CNBC that I thought it was the great unknown in the Pay Per Click universe. Despite proclamations to the contrary, we dont know what percent of advertising revenue is consumed by fraud.

Don referred to the Click Fraud Index. This index is provided by an analytics company which provides software to advertisers to help them determine how much they are getting hit by clickfraud.

The index suggests that 14pct of clicks are fraudulent. On their website, they make the point that this percentage converts into a very meaningful $750mm in fraud this year. All very interesting.

More importantly, Don defined clickfraud as companies clicking on their competitors ads or robots or clickfarms rolling up fraudulent clicks. Both of which are definitely fraud.

Personally, I think click fraud goes much further than these two examples so I responded to Don with

“CLICK fraud goes far beyond click farms, robots and competitors.

Its the new monthly allowance for I dont know how many college and high school kids. Take a look at this splog (spam blog)
http://blogger3.com/users/nba-ticket/article/113845/

MILLIONS of these are created EVERY day. Showing up in search results trolling for clicks through adsense. Not click fraud by your definition, but all pages created purely to draw clicks. Not what the advertisers had in mind Im sure, being on a spam page.

or this is popular, telling people to help out by clicking on the ads
http://blog.myspace.com/explorers_of_the_unknown

or
http://www.icerocket.com/search?tab=myspace&q=ads+by+goo

for more info.”

Don responded by saying that he didnt think my examples were click fraud since a “human was led to click by content”. Fair point, but it leads to the bigger question.

What is click fraud ?

Im going to offer my definition and let everyone else chime in as well in comments.

In addition to the examples Don gives and I agree with, robots, farms, paid clickers and competitive budget sabotage, Click Fraud is very simply:

A clickby a system or person on a page designed to circumvent the advertisers intent. In otherwords, advertisers are spending their money in order to get results. They have directed money to PPC advertising to get click throughs from their intended audience, to their intended destination.

If a kid on myspace says “click on the ads” to help me pay for XYZ, and they do, thats click fraud.

If an ad shows up on a splog and the advertisers doesnt want their ads on splogs. Thats click fraud.

If an ad shows up on a parked domain and the advertiser doesnt want their ads on parked domains. Thats click fraud.

If an ad shows up on a page thats part of an arbitrage scheme (buy clicks from a cheap PPC company, sell them using a more expensive PPC provider), thats click fraud.

The controls available from Yahoo, Google and others to advertisers are improving all the time. Yes, advertisers have the choice of only being on search engine results, or being on specific content site. But the reality is, more often than not the click volume is either not high or the cost of granularity is very high, so the advertiser chooses what could be called the Run of Schedule approach, trusting the ad provider to put their ads on legitimate sites.

Some may feel that Im over reaching in the definition, I dont.

The net is supposed to be an improvement over the old saying “i know half of my advertising is working, i just dont know which half”, not an extension.

The concept of “I know some percentage of my PPC advertising is click fraud, I just dont know home much” shouldnt be acceptable.

70 thoughts on “What is click fraud ?

  1. Hiya,

    I just came across this post while looking around for people to tell about ClickProtector. We just relaunched our site and started a free click fraud monitoring service, along with our pay service. You should check it out – http://www.clickprotector.com

    Eric

    Comment by eric -

  2. I think one of the best ways to circumvent something like this is through affiliate programs. This way you as a business only pay for the sales that other people get for you.

    Comment by funny shirts -

  3. Invalid clicks are currently destroying Yahoo Search Marketing. Since having lost MSN’s traffic, Yahoo has begun upping the ads sent out to affiliates and referers of dubious quality. Conversion rates from YSM has plummeted for most. Advertisers nationwide are reducing Yahoo ad spend because of this problem.

    Invalid clicks will destroy YSM unless they allow advertisers to restrict their ads to only the sites they wish to utilize.

    Comment by Scott Griffith -

  4. PPC (Pay Per Click)is a vast improvement over CPM (Cost Per Thousand) impressions/page views. Look, 97% of the $500 Billion spent on advertising is wasted on “brand” advertising in the traditional media. You know…the ads on TV when there is a break in tha action of a Mavs game…the ones you don’t watch? Or the ads in magazines you go zipping past. Guess how much advertisers are paying for that junk?

    PPC has some manageable problems. Click Fraud is contollable and manageable.

    Mark, I suggest round 2 of this debate be settled by jump shots from the 3 point line. I haven’t played for 16 years so you are have a huge edge.

    Comment by Don Dodge -

  5. I agree completely with Mark – all of these things are click fraud. It’s a huge problem and it is messing up PPC campaigns all over the place and basically making money for G. I’ve stopped using PPC for advertising for my biz, but I would certainly pay-per-action, that elmiminates a ton of risk…although I’m guessing someone would figure out a way to ruin that too.

    Comment by SportsLizard -

  6. According to their site “Snap.com offers a revolutionary new way to advertise: Cost Per Action. This bold new approach virtually eliminates advertisers’ risk because Snap only gets paid when the user completes a purchase or other action.” Anyone have experience with Snap?

    Comment by Cliff -

  7. Turning this whole conversation on it’s end, you can ask. If only 2% of my paid clicks are converting isn’t the other 98% fraud? Obviously not, but it shows that click quality is more important than click fraud. That is why I built the Conversion Index which defines how valuable each web portal’s traffic is.

    Please peruse at your leisure and ask me any questions http://convesionindex.did-it.com.

    Craig Wood
    Did-it.Com

    Comment by Craig Wood -

  8. To answer Don’s question, all paid clicks distributed in syndication by search companies are redirected through a central logging mechanism, so adsense fraud can be detected just as easily as fraud on listings shown on google.com.

    Click fraud will never be prevented, it can only be detected. Given that, the battle is waged in two areas:

    1. insulating the advertiser from unwanted costs

    2. stopping the flow of money to those who seek to gain from generating clicks that are not from real prospects for the advertiser’s prooducts.

    Having run a BI team for a paid search company, I can tell you the problem is only getting worse. It is a cat and mouse game – you develop anomaly detection methods and blacklists based on history, only to find that new methods of generating highly random and dispersed clicks have emerged in the meantime.

    CPA (or PPS as Dave refers to above) is the way of the future. The client only pays when they get a real lead or when someone becomes a customer, and the affiliate only gets paid for the real people they send through that sign up.

    Comment by David Sabel -

  9. Click ads are basically done by people who have understanding of thier market or the technology.

    I have heard of very few (if any) click ad campaigns being succesful, just like I haven’t heard of anyone who bought celias, oem software or took stock tips from spam mail (which I still get tons of every day).

    Comment by OneEye -

  10. The problem is that advertisers are paying for the wrong thing. Many of the companies and people that place PPC ads don’t want clicks, they want to sell a product. To eliminate click fraud, stop measuring clicks and start measuring sales.

    Yes, pay-per-sale is quite possible. Imagine if Google provided a way for AdWords advertisers to have customers buy using GPay and only pay for the ad if a sale was made. With the ad and payment system integrated, it’s no problem to track whether clicks resulted in a sale. The Adwords algorithm would change to reflect the click-to-sales effectiveness of the competing bidders rather than the click-to-bid-price.

    Why would Google want to give up the sure thing of PPC? First, click fraud is a lot harder to stop than some people think. Google and merchants are losing a lot of money to it, and hand-to-hand combat with offenders is tedious in a market this big. Second, pay-per-sale would not be subject to the 14% (or higher) “click fraud tax”. That makes costs lower for Google, the merchant/advertiser, and the customer. The three of them can divide those savings rather than giving them to criminals.

    The existence of PPS doesn’t mean that PPC goes away, because there are some things that can’t be measured by hard sales. However, if a product *can* be measured by sales it’s almost a sure bet that it *will* be more efficient to advertise using PPS rather than PPC.

    Comment by Dave -

  11. Turn it around. It doesn’t matter who or what or where the click was generated. Any click that doesn’t come with the genuine intent to learn about or buy the product is fraud (or invalid, I like that).

    Comment by Craig Danuloff -

  12. If we’re going to expand the definition so widely, we should also stop using “click fraud”. While some of these clicks are not welcomed, they are not fraudulent. “Invalid clicks” is a much better term.

    Comment by Andy Beal -

  13. @Ken: People may want to pay-per-click for many reasons, not all end purpose of something is a purchase.

    @Mitchell: That would identify the most basic fraud, what about fraud done by zombie networks?

    Maybe the line is somewhere in between what Mark and Don are saying, at least from monetization point of view, not talking about the intention behind the click.

    If Google monitored which sites displayed their ads than if splogs and spam sites were rejected, the financial incentive for them to be formed wouldn’t be there and two problems could be solved at once. No more splogs and spam sites, and less click fraud. While a splog !=clickfraud, it can easily be used as a launching pad for it.

    Comment by Mikhail L -

  14. Mark, Good points. My original definition of click fraud (click bots, click farms, paid clickers, and click sabotage on your competitors) should also include the MySpace crowd clicking on each others ads. I have no idea how often this happens but it is a manual process so probably not too much. Even teenagers get bored after a while.

    Ads appearing on splogs or parked domains do stink, but how is that click fraud? The end user decides if they want to click or not. Most users close the browser in disgust. However, if they click on an ad…isn’t that legit?

    I think I may have overlooked clicks on syndicated ads through AdSense type networks. I know the major search engines can detect click fraud on their own sites, but what happens when an ad purchased through Google gets placed on some random syndicated site? Can Google detect click fraud on that site?

    Hmmm…they could if the ad click redirects through their servers before getting to the ad destination site. We used to call these “jump servers” and I assume this is how they do it now but I’m not sure.

    Simple analysis of how many times per minute an ad is clicked,, or how many times a certain IP address clicks on an ad, or historical analysis of click through rates, can usually uncover click fraud.

    On the other hand, the best kept secrets in business are the extent of credit card fraud, and cell phone cloning fraud. The credit card companies and cell phone companies don’t want anyone to know how rampant the fraud is because it would encourage even more fraud. Perhaps the search engines and big sites have similar motives?

    What I am saying is that click fraud is relatively easy to detect and prevent. I know the search engines do this on their own sites. How aggressive they are about fraud on syndicated sites…I don’t know.

    Any advertiser who still pays CPM rates for page views should have their head examined. Fraud in page view counts and spam sites generating useless page views is indeed rampant and does constitute a fraud…but not click fraud.

    Comment by Don Dodge -

  15. By the way the link above to the “click Fraud Index” is DEAD.

    Here’s the link:
    http://www.clickfraudindex.com

    Comment by Share Trading -

  16. Google has some advanced algorithm plus a lot of eyes looking into click fraud. Without it, their business is doomed. Without any guarantee to advertisers and this algorithm and tracking Google will simply be kaput.

    So for the time being, with their technology at least, the advertiser should be at comfort advertising with them. Anyway, if your tracking senses an abnormal traffic wave from one ip, then simply put = click fraud.

    Comment by Forex Trading -

  17. OK, what if the advertisers collected/stored the ip addresses of the originating clicks and matched them for duplication? That way, if anyone clicked from the same computer and/or ip address more than once, it only counts as one click? Simple!

    Comment by Mitchell -

  18. Why do advertisers want to pay for clicks instead of sales? What good is getting someone into the “showroom” if they don’t buy anything?

    I don’t think there’s a robot out there willing to pony up a credit card number and actually buy something!

    One problem is internet outlets that rely on advertising dollars don’t want to admit that their mediums don’t work as advertising vehicles! They’ll sell you an ad, but they don’t want to hear about it when the ad doesn’t produce sales!

    Comment by Ken Carpenter -

  19. Reporting from the school and teaching supply market, click fraud is not much of a problem (~5%), but growing. The higher stakes industries, like gaming and pharmaceuticals, will be the front line of this Arms Race between good and evil–cheaters and detectors. I am prepared for click fraud automation to produce a return on my 10 cent clicks, though not happy about the growing trend. But do realize that it becomes another barrier to entry for entrants and a benefit for incumbents as the cost of acquiring new customers rises.

    Comment by Michael -

  20. good !!!

    Comment by imdb -

  21. When those clicks are costing $5-$10+ dollars a click, a few of them consistently can be *death by a thousand cuts* to an advertiser. It wastes a lot of our company time and money to have to always scrutinize click logs to see where the *click mafia* is taking money from our account.

    Comment by runescape money -

  22. The people screaming “click fraud” are the ones who are actually the problem here. They’re selling a product that has resisted measurment in that elusive yet seductive way that anything and everything on the web can do. Its “internetty”!!! Wheee!

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  23. Is it really as simple as grabbing the IP address…what about “mad clickers” using different proxies over and over again.

    I understand that GOOG knows the previous page/site where the person came from and where they go to next…the browser used, java enabled etc…but the proxy thing…how can they really know if the surfer hasn’t simply changed his IP address and went back to click again.

    Some of the spam sites don’t need many clicks per day to earn some real money when VIOXX or VIOXX LAWYERS keywords are sold for $40 a click…

    So my question is whats stopping someone from simply changing their IP address a few times a day and mix up the time of clicks to make it look less obvious?

    Comment by Alton -

  24. On average companies report that they waste 20% of their PPC budget on fraud. Again … this really depends on the industry you’re in. In our industry, click fraud is accumulated for about 15% of clicks. If you look at gambling sites on PPC and other popular and competitive areas, I am sure click fraud is a huge problem.

    With time though, Google is going to fight it by not just looking at the IP addresses, but being smarter. What they’ll do is show their PPC ads strictly by demographics and thus the competitor who wants to click on your ads, might not even see them because he doesn’t fall into the category.

    Comment by BizMord Marketing -

  25. And, Johnnie … I’ll take a liberty, here, by posting my interpretation:

    In summary, the common person doesn’t need to be burdened by any additional data mining, or, specifically, the knowledge of such data mining. I do agree (you KNOW you think this) that the media has given it way too much space, recently, compared to, say, Darfur. It’s a relatively Forbes-ian topic, after all.

    Your comments (in desperate need of editing) contain a beautiful concept: The remembrance of the individual in this process, and, tangentally, their role in continuing to work for the best solution to these issues, even as they are ignorant of the issues. If for nothing else then for self-defense against the powers-that-be.

    Thanks for that. I’m really pleased by the confirmation of the existence of true stream of consciousness expression in this fantastic web medium. I just hope for better communication from you through the use of judicious editing, in the future. I’m watching you, bruddah …🙂

    But, how does this apply to the issue of ‘invalid click propagation’? Hmmm …

    Comment by James Butler -

  26. Mark is correct. Tape is correct. Johnnie is like watching a train wreck in slow motion (too much detail, dude), but he has a point, too. There are lots of good thoughts, here.

    Fraud does exist in many forms. One of them is getting paid at an advertiser’s expense by doing what causes that advertiser to expend money: clicking their PPC ads.

    The problems with YSM’s approach as they slide into the netherworld are readily apparent, and equate to selling magazine ads then publishing them in a completely unrelated magazine and charging the advertiser for that placement. I didn’t want to be there, I certainly didn’t want to pay to be there, and you, publisher, were wrong to do it.

    Sell one thing, deliver another. It doesn’t matter if you call it ‘click fraud’, it is definitely unethical and potentially criminal under existing laws. (“bait and switch” schemes are low-rent precursors compared to this.)

    Zombie botnets do exist. Many of them are for rent to immoral people. Many of them are autonomous. They are all harmful to the infrastructure and the current mechanisms that are employed on that infrastructure.

    10 years of development, even at this hyperactive pace, are not enough to secure a system like PPC. I do agree with an earlier poster that the system itself is badly designed when it can be so easily abused. And I very much agree with earlier posters that engaging in successful ‘invalid click propagation’ is quite simple to do, although the methods described here are old and easily recognized.

    The current battle is one of immense sophistication … not on the attackers’ side so much as on the defenders’.

    When we see entire forum channels dedicated to such topics as ‘How I Make $50,000 Per Month With AdSense’, you know there’s a huge problem. But go ahead and try to prove it, or to make the attackers accountable.

    A dead body? Gunshot wound? Gun? Fingerprints. Criminal. Jail.

    5,000 clicks on a $20 term? No fingerprints. No Criminal. No Jail. No refund.

    If you’re a well-funded operation, that’s not so bad. But (thanks, Johnnie) if you are just one of the little guys trying to promote your squid replica store, you just lost your month’s advertising budget, and you’ll never get a dime for it. Food taken out of your family’s mouths.

    Fraud hurts, and it hurts us all in that it hurts the infrastructure and the level of trust placed on the mechanism.

    Comment by James Butler -

  27. There are different techniques, but in essence the criminal takes apart a
    wireless telephone and denialecg which reprograms it with a counterfeit account
    code (ESN/MIN pair), which tricks a wireless system into sending the bill
    to Mr Woodell. While the bulk of the problem is in bigger cities such as
    Swansea , London, and Los Alamos, wireless fraud dos takes place everyhere.

    Comment by liam llac -

  28. Detecting them may, as it turns out, not be easy for Google, Yahoo Search or even sophisticated operations like his team of researchers. Since botnets use hundreds of thousands of infected user PC’s they can be used to emulate “normal” (low) click activity on CPC ads from an equal number of IP addresses — flying under the radar of the best detection devices.

    Comment by Tape -

  29. Wil-

    You’re upside down and missing the point, mate. Sometimes a low tech approach works best. Sometimes an antiquated Millennium Falcon can be more stealth than Stealth. Understand what I’m sayin’ Dundee? Do you speak-a my language?

    … so while you’re down there standing on your head, throw another shrimp on the barbie and contemplate these things. Better yet, smile and give me a vegemite sandwich …

    Comment by Prince of Thieves -

  30. Forget clicking your own links and re-connecting with a new IP to do it all over again. Too time-consuming. Why not just pay a small army of human click-bots a small amount (1/10th of a cent to 1 cent) per click?

    That’s exactly what a lot of people are doing, sending those clickers to parked domains or 3rd-rate PPC search engines, with links to high-paying keywords provided for maximum profitability.

    They’re using 0-pixel iframes to hide auto-search scripts that perform dozens of searches every time the page loads. That way they don’t have to pay for clicks, just impressions.

    With several hundred thousand human clickbots, some of them clicking 8-10 hours a day, doing maybe 4 or 5 thousand searches a day, that adds up to some serious clickfraud.

    Comment by Wil -

  31. If it is soooo easy, why won’t someone make an example of GOOG and shoow step by step how they were able to click ads on thier own page to generate a small amount of $$.
    This has 60 minutes written all over it…I’d do it if I knew how….someone wants to tell me I’ll do it and give you the credit…regimports at yahoo. com

    Comment by Alton -

  32. Excellent description of click fraud. I personally think Google has direct knowledge and is purposefully stimulating the fraud to increase their own revenues. Search results are getting overloaded with pages listing adword ads nested listings. Basically search results pages are bringing back more and more pages that just have sponsored search results.

    The real questions is “what is a solution to reduce click fraud?:
    A)Make Google and Yahoo Marketing Accountable for their policies that stimulate click fraud and the lack of safe guards. (Sue PPc Companies..it’s the American Way)
    B)Make people engaging in click fraud accountable for their actions. (Click Fraud Act of 2007..who is sponsoring the bill?)
    C)Educate Advertisers. How many people do you think start a business, open a PPC account and have no clue about conversion rates and how it related to cost per conversion? Plenty. I deal with these people every day. “I don’t understand why I spend $2000 a month on Google and only get $1500 in sales”. You retard..you are paying too much per click and listed under search terms that do not convert well for you.

    Oh well..till someone makes companies accountable…advertisers will continue to pay the traffic monetizers and click fraudsters.

    Comment by Terry Barnes -

  33. If I know I convert 15 percent of focused terms from Google directly and other reputable sources and then I see a source that has sent me hundreds of clicks and not a single one converted or even stayed around and looked at the site, something is wrong.

    Comment by Rubb -

  34. Is ‘click fraud’ always wrong? Would the word ‘thief’ — and the negative connotation of the word — apply to Robin Hood? “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

    Is it wrong to take from financial institutions (by clicking on their ads) when they (legally?) steal from the less fortunate? Creditors can gouge a working class individual — who’d NEVER missed a monthly payment — by jacking up 29.99% interest rates. Unscrupulous banks do so because they can. A pirate might be tempted to take back from the banks by way of ‘click fraud’ … Perhaps because he can. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth …

    Comment by Prince of Thieves -

  35. Mark Cuban Idea?

    Mark (if I may call you that). Why dont you put Adsense on this blog and donate the proceeds to charity? I bet this blog could make $5K per month easily.

    Comment by Internet Marketing Consultant -

  36. Google uses something called smart pricing. As with most things from Google it is usually secretive. Smart pricing measures the conversion rate and things to see how much money the click from the said website is making the advertiser.

    Say I have a website about Debt Consolidation with a low conversion rate for Adwords advertisers. Google will factor this into the pricing and charge less to the advertiser which is fair. So instead of getting a share of a $50.00 click. The adsense user gets a share of a maybe $.50 click

    Comment by InternetMarketingGuy -

  37. OK if anyone is willing to prove that clickfraud is this easy…Lets do it and buy some puts…Imagine taking your step by step proof of how you clicked your own ads to generate 100 bucks (Minimum amount needed for GOOG to send out a check to it’s adsense partners) from Google to CNBC or some other news outlet…suprised Mark hasn’t done this to prove his point!!!

    Comment by Alton -

  38. Yes, The big problem is not competitors clicking on the results — its bad content partners in the search engines’ network that throw junk traffic at our site.

    Comment by Dhw -

  39. Mark:
    I recently released a podcast on click fraud wherein Wayne Porter (a well-known anti-spyware/adware warrior) made some stunning predictions with regard to automated click fraud… what’s on the horizon (based on his team’s experiences with “botnets” that are so large and filled with criminal activity that he’s been turning them over to Federal authorities).

    Porter begins to discuss how and why major name advertisers (and advertising networks they work with) unknowingly get caught funding criminal activity through performance advertising channels. Where he ends up is remarkable in that he predicts that the realm of click fraud is bound to get a lot more ugly as massive, criminal-operated networks of “zombie” PC’s (“botnets”) turn their guns in a new direction. Detecting them may, as it turns out, not be easy for Google, Yahoo Search or even sophisticated operations like his team of researchers. Since botnets use hundreds of thousands of infected user PC’s they can be used to emulate “normal” (low) click activity on CPC ads from an equal number of IP addresses — flying under the radar of the best detection devices.

    Says Porter, “Once you’ve compromised a PC you own it… it’s yours you can do with it what you want and you can emulate that activity. Because that net is spread out… you can execute any type of activity and get away with it – from sending spam to recommending certain Web sites to infecting them with more adware to emulating surfing activity and possibly emulating click activity… yes… definitely for sure.”

    What’s more, he uses the case of AllAdvantage (wherein hackers got “paid to sleep”) as an example of history that is bound to repeat itself — only with more serious consequences given the tremendous popularity of cost per click search marketing.

    LINK:

    http://www.thoughtshapers.com/index.php/spyware-warriors-the-digital-underground-part-two/

    Comment by Jeff Molander -

  40. Mark:
    I recently released a podcast on click fraud wherein Wayne Porter (a well-known anti-spyware/adware warrior) made some stunning predictions with regard to automated click fraud… what’s on the horizon (based on his team’s experiences with “botnets” that are so large and filled with criminal activity that he’s been turning them over to Federal authorities).

    Porter begins to discuss how and why major name advertisers (and advertising networks they work with) unknowingly get caught funding criminal activity through performance advertising channels. Where he ends up is remarkable in that he predicts that the realm of click fraud is bound to get a lot more ugly as massive, criminal-operated networks of “zombie” PC’s (“botnets”) turn their guns in a new direction. Detecting them may, as it turns out, not be easy for Google, Yahoo Search or even sophisticated operations like his team of researchers. Since botnets use hundreds of thousands of infected user PC’s they can be used to emulate “normal” (low) click activity on CPC ads from an equal number of IP addresses — flying under the radar of the best detection devices.

    Says Porter, “Once you’ve compromised a PC you own it… it’s yours you can do with it what you want and you can emulate that activity. Because that net is spread out… you can execute any type of activity and get away with it – from sending spam to recommending certain Web sites to infecting them with more adware to emulating surfing activity and possibly emulating click activity… yes… definitely for sure.”

    What’s more, he uses the case of AllAdvantage (wherein hackers got “paid to sleep”) as an example of history that is bound to repeat itself — only with more serious consequences given the tremendous popularity of cost per click search marketing.

    LINK:

    http://www.thoughtshapers.com/index.php/spyware-warriors-the-digital-underground-part-two/

    Comment by Jeff Molander -

  41. It’s that easy. All they can record that pins you is an ip address. If you change it then you are a new person.

    Comment by Brandon Connell -

  42. I’d like to hear more on how easy it is? I’m learning a bit more about networking etc. and would love to know if what was mentioned above about just changing IP addresses is that simple?

    “it’s impossible to detect IP of client,as detect IP of serves.”
    Not sure I know what this means…When I go to a “whatsmyipaddress.com” type site…I can change it and then go back to this type of site and I have them fooled…is there not more to it than that…like what the previous page you came from is, what browser you use…

    Thanks

    Comment by Alton -

  43. “doesn’t GOOG have a more clever way of detecting IP addresses.” it’s impossible to detect IP of client,as detect IP of serves.

    Comment by Tony -

  44. It’s the responsibility of anyone who has the final say in the effective use of the advertising bucks to track the results of their advertising dollars. This is easily accomplished with any Google Adwords campaign. With technology and services that have been online for several years now…you can see exactly which keywords you’ve bid on are effectively converting to sales PROFITABLY. Test and track everything. The PPC game isn’t something you can set and forget. Players come (in the form of competition) and go just as quickly. You have to mind the store. If you don’t…you deserve to get your pocket picked by Google.

    Comment by Timothy Cheuvront -

  45. (Alton)

    Click fraud = Wrong … But easy

    Buying GOOG puts = Smart trade

    Comment by 7oogle -

  46. For the advertiser, there is a simple formula: Spending X dollars on advertising increases sales profits by Y. If X is < Y, it's worth it to the advertiser. It's that simple. Google allows you to bid per click. When I used it, I was bidding a few pennies per click. It didn't work for me. It was pretty easy to figure out, as Google gives you a flag to see if people are arriving and buying at your site from Google. It's not perfect, but roughly you can see if you are generating good hits from Google. I'd imagine everyone else's search offers a similar tag if you want to implement it. For me it didn't work, but I was just experimenting. Others mileage will very. If it increases your revenue, use it, otherwise don't. The 'fraud' part is really the adservice's problem. The advertiser just adjusts their bid up and down in response to how much revenue is being generated. If the fraud is affecting the quality of the adservice, the advertiser lowers their bid. I'd imagine the adservice will continuously figure out ways to improve the quality of hits as they don't want bidding to go down on their service. I've never been a fan of linking ad payments to purchases, as people may visit the site later, or do something that hides the site they came from. Less scrupulous advertisers might even redirect things themsleves to avoid ad costs. In the end, online advertising may not be the best way to do things, but it certainly isn't going way.

    Comment by quillian -

  47. Hey Radio Maverick

    It can’t be that easy…doesn’t GOOG have a more clever way of detecting IP addresses.

    Could someone using highspeed just use a proxy and do the same thing?

    If this is the case I’m buying GOOG puts

    Comment by Alton -

  48. **Disclaimer – Click Fraud is wrong – I DO NOT condone Click Fraud**

    Small scale click fraud is easy money …

    Buy a domain name during a $2.99/domain special on Yahoo! …

    Park your domain at a domain sales and parking site like Sedo.com …

    When parking your domain you will be given the opportunity to choose advertising keywords for your ‘parked’ page …

    Keywords like ‘Business Loans’ often pay between $0.75 and $2.10 per click …

    Sign up for a free 30-day trial internet service (dial-up) using a provider like NetZero, AOL, etc …

    Dial-up ISPs usually have numerous access numbers within most area codes …

    Each time you connect to the internet use a different access number from within your particular area code … This varies your IP address …

    Go to the parked page for your domain and click on one of the pay-per-click advertisements …

    Click a few links on the advertiser’s page to show potential interest in the products or services …

    Disconnect from the internet …

    Dial-up to reconnect to the internet using a different access number from within your area code …

    Go to your parked domain page and click on a different pay-per-click advertisement …

    Disconnect from the internet …

    Repeat …

    Easy money …

    **This is not an endorsement for the fraudulent behavior outlined above**

    Comment by Radio Maverick -

  49. You are a bit misguided if you think that the internet is being eaten from the inside out. It is outside issues such as Bush making search engines give away information about its users queries. Things like that which are a threat to the internet and privacy rights that should matter. Not something as stupid as click fraud. If you dont like click fraud then dont use PPC. I dont and I do just fine.

    Comment by Brandon Connell -

  50. I hear you. And I hope your dreams of big money come true. And you’re right, there are two worlds. But its neither of those worlds I’m actually concerned about. I’m concerned about the world we will leave behind. Those that come after us will be blessed with this fantastic tool. The internet. And may will be wealthy because of their parents who may never have been able to become wealthy if the internet had come along at some other time.

    What I’m concerned about is the fact that its ‘click fraud’ is barrelling its way down a path towards entanglement with the legal system. The web is suddenly not being “attacked” by “the law” from “outside” as it was threatened with in the early years. Now all of the threats to the internet are coming from within. Suddenly the very ones who used to scream ‘gimmie a minute we’re just getting this thing up and running’ back at the government are now the very ones screaming ‘oooooo, you shouldn’t uh-done that, you made me mad and now i’m gonna tell on you.”

    The laws that could come into existance to codify not a human right, nor a liberty, nor even the protection of an asset of merit that is clearly under attack in an unfair manner by persons who can clearly be seen to be profiting at someone elses expense’. And, in fact, tolerance of this type of corner cutting is a fact of life in comperable industries, such as more traditional media advertising. But suddenly the folks in this particulary industry, pay per click, have decided they are feeling antsy about their product. Its not the way it used to be any more. Advertisers are demanding more for their dollar the the PPC people are struggling to keep up. What better way to protect the status quo than to have laws passed that essentially set into stone current practices that also require an inferior method of analysis (counting) to determine innocence or guilt, extend the life of a product that cleary would have had to change greatly or die, and give the status quo a firm underfooting from which to continure to deliver advertising to an already questionable audience that really hates to get advertising like that anyway.

    Methinks the Emperor has no clothes. And yet, as far as everybody else here is concerned, his is attire is nothing sort of regal, deserving not only the continued worship of society but even the protection of law.

    And we all know that justice in this country is a confusing one, which is composed of a system that CREATES laws but which has, essentially, no exit for those laws once they become obsolete. Except, for the courts. And we all know what happened last year when The Supreme Court was finally routed. Its a new day. And little laws for silly little things like this won’t serve our children well. Though just little stepping stones to those that want them now, they will become vast mountain ranges over which our children will be foreced to climb in order for that generation and the next to bring back liberty to this land.

    I know its pretty over the top for something so tiny. But, exactly how DOES one get an unjust law repealed? One that was originally designed to support a product, and not the people who will be forced to abide by it for as long as the law reamains on the books.

    In the end even the PPC people will advance thier product past the law and forget about it, until one day when, as I said, somebody crafty comes along and wants to help himself to what you have. The supreme court we have now will be setting those kinds of guys up in shops all over this country by the time they’re through in thirty or forty years. Why must the internet deliver all their weaponry to them upon a plate now? They have all they need in the form of the courts. Must we arm them further with silly stuff like this?

    You PPC people, go solve your problem and put a differnet marketing spin on this and start offering results measured a differnet way and leave this “click fraud” load of fools gold behind. There is real gold in them thar hills if you will just revise your approach. Why should it be based on counting? There are other properties to the experience you’ve too hurridley assigned all into the single word “click”. Its time to leave this word behind and think up a new strategy. And in so doing, you’re freed from the tierneey of the word “click”.

    And our children are saved from one less foolish law to do battle with in the future.

    Comment by Johnnie Miller -

  51. The people screaming “click fraud” are the ones who actually run things. They are the customers who pay money for rich people to absorb and buy a big 600 foot yaght with. They also pay the people who work for them. Thats what makes the world go round. There are a ton of conspiracies that are true but it doesn’t mean you have to go messing with them. Eventually I myself will be rich as hell and I am going to do the same thing. Why? Because it is what brings in the money. “Click Fraud” is a viable topic and something that people need to know that there are those who are working to make them know their money is secure. Even if it is an illusion it is what calms them and keeps the money coming in. Drop it. Leave it alone. If everyone decided not to be poor then who the hell would clean the toilets? Who would pick the peppers? Have you watched that show “Survival of the richest”? There are two complete different societies out there. One for the poor and one for the rich. Small businesses which are the ones concerned about click fraud go in the poor section and need the security of knowing their money is not being wasted in shitty clicks. That simple. At the same time the rich guy is finding out how to milk the money out of the customer. They found that by easing their minds is a good way to get money from them. It works so don’t fix it!

    Comment by Brandon Connell -

  52. Thanks. I appreciate your advice the kindness with which you offered the admonishment.

    I wrote it that way on purpose. I know that my “arguments” are simplistic and I know that my “outcome” is needlessly overblown. But I wanted to emphasize exactly what you’ve emphasized, that what the actual outcome of all this is just to count. To count. The ultimate purpose of all this is not to create more complex algorythms and more sophisticated thinking in order to sell the Pay-Per-Click product, it is, in fact to eliminate every single bit of thinking at all. As much as possible. Instead of going forward here in programming and creating better products that serve people better, instead the purpose here it to go backward. To make this product rely on as close to nothing more than a simple count as is possible. And when you do that, you eliminate the need to think about it any more. What is happening here is that they are taking a product that is a questionable method of generating revenue at best, as the overall essesnce of the all the posts prior to mine began to point towards and then NOT to improve the product in any way, nor even to create a more sophisticated method of delivery, then followed-up by a results measurement tool engineered to take into account the many different aspects of the forces and the people and their motivations that will effect the performance of this prodcut. Instead, what is happening is that a questionable product is going backwards. Its ultimate peformance measurment tool is being championed as a count. And the best possible way to get nothing more than the most simple and perfect count is the entire goal of the persons championing a “perfect count” as the “best” measuring tool for this product. And its not the product thats being called into question, nor the motivations of the persons who may, or may not, be taking “unfair advantage” of the “situation”. This “situation” is the product itself. It is the product which is burdened with this “lost” which has yet to be clearly quantified by any reasonable means upon which even the experts in the field can agree. But none of that matters. Instead, everybody is saying, implying anyway by seeming not even to consider in any way more than a briefly passing nod that, that the product itself isn’t flawed enough to demand a closer review. INSTEAD, instead, everybody is flocking towards this adorable little catch phrase “click fraud” thats deceptively easy to believe you understand and so that MUST be the problem. Hardly any time at all do most in the thread seem to give to the idea that maybe the product itself is the problem, and it comes with an inherent performance measurment problem that is difficult to solve. UNLESS, you forgo further analysis and the creation of a more sophisticated performance measurement tool and, instead, start going backwards. Yes, a more perfect count would also solve the performance measurement problem. But the only way to get as close as you think this product “OUGHT” to be, as Mark states at the end of this thought, simply because its a product of the internet and, if you buy his suggestion, performance of marketing schemes of this nature, simply by the fact that their being exercised on the interst, “SHOULD”, SHOULD, should! by virtue of the fact that the product is a child of the internet itself and so also by virture of its inherent “internetness” that it SHOULD, it OUGHT, to be measured in a a better, more accurate, more “internetty” way that offers the purchaserers of this product better value for their money over traditonal advertising venues like billboards and television. And yet, after all the success this product has had in generating revenue it has consistantly resisted performance measurment any more accurate than traditional media. And this is after many many years of trying to come up with ways to pull that elusive measurement tool out of the internet hat by some pretty smart people. And so, finally, its come to this. They’ve given up. They’re taking the easy way out. This SHOULD conform to a simple count because the internet lets us count stuff so easy. And yet we still have problems with this counting this and feeling comfortable with the performance results we have received. THEREFORE, its not US, its THEM. Its the hazy ‘ghosts’ of the internet that we can’t see. That MUST be it. Its those darned ol’ mean college kids that just take every darn ol’ thing we work so hard to put out there on our cool, ultra ultra ultra modern internet marvel and then just wreck it. Just treat it like they don’t care, like its just a game of ball they can play in the living room. Darn them ol’ theiving college kids. Darn them smart ol hackers who are stealing our revenue from all our hard hard hard work for us click by click. If they’re that smart, they couldn’t be hungry or anything! If they know how to do this, then surely they MUST have everything WE have and so surely they are not only guilty, they’re SUPER-Guilty. They’re bad to the bone. And we’ve got to stop them so we can get better counts and so we won’t lose “all this money” that we can’t quantify but we really really REALLY think is THEIR faults and not OURS. At least thats what we tell our advertisers and, gosh darn golly gee, now they’re all mad about it and stuff. And now we’ve got to stop all them theivin’ robbin’ plunderin’ click burgulars and keep them from buy tickets to movie concerts or having any sort of a better little life than they SHOULD be havin’, those dirty dirty dirty snivelers who ought to know better!! Why are they doing this to us???

    I know, we’ll make it a CRIME. And we’ll create a big bunch of laws that will be next to impossible to enforce (as the fact that we can’t even track this percieved “fraud” right now indicates) and we’ll INTIMIDATE it out of them. Oh yeah. We’re bad. We’re REAL bad. Don’t you go messin’ with us big rich internet moguls you freakin’ space ghosts!!! We know you’re out there and we’re gonna git cha! WE WILL YOU KNOW!!! We’ll find you one day and then, boy will YOU BE SORRY.

    And so they are now pushing this silly concept called “click fraud” to fight an unseen menance in order to “save” their client advertisers this “terrible loss” and achive some sort of gain at this point that will be as equally difficult to quantify at that point as it is to quantify the loss at this point.

    But by then there will be new laws on the books. New laws we don’t need now and still won’t need then. But those laws will be there just laying in wait. Waiting for a savvy lawyer to come along later on and apply them to something they were never intended to be applied to. And based on THAT, justice will continue to go in the direction its currently going. Towards complete madness. As crazy as my posting.

    Did you catch that. As crazy as my posting.

    The people screaming “click fraud” are the ones who are actually the problem here. They’re selling a product that has resisted measurment in that elusive yet seductive w3ay that anything and everything on the web can do. Its “internetty”!!! Wheee! That means we can MEASURE IT. Way better than before. Trust me Mr. Client, I want your money and you want your product to be drenched in internet glitz. Don’t worry we will just code up a new way to measure YOUR internet presence and even though we have never done YOUR product before, we sure have gotten us some um them there grate rezults on sum ob them other stuff. Why, just look at Pay-Per-Click. Still going strong after all these years! AND, we finally figured out how to accuratly and perfectly measure it!! Umm-humm, we shore nuff did! Yep, you’ll never believe it, we COUNT the clicks!! Isn’t that BRILLIANT! Took us about ten years to work out those kinks but we finaly got that formula down. Yes we did. It was hard and very VERY sophicated but we did we. We figured out how to clear away anything and

    Comment by Johnnie Miller -

  53. Johnnie you shouldn’t talk stuff man. Mark is right. AND all the crap you just said, none of it makes sense and at the same time none of it had anything to do with the rest of it. How’s that for a cryptic message?

    The idea is to track as many clicks as possible. Nobody said you can track EVERY click. That would be stupid wouldn’t it? Kinda like your post. Genius’s are trying to figure out the next big thing by the way. From new ways to distribute media to new online communities that have not been done before. There’s got to be some internet millionaire/billionaire still left in the web.

    Comment by Brandon Connell -

  54. There is no such thing as click fraud.

    A click is a click is a click.

    How can Neilson prove that their mathmatics really indicate an accurate accessment of any given audience at any given time. They can’t, the advertisers just believe…..

    If an advertiser is going to hit the ceiling because somebody is clicking to “support our advertisers” but then not reading every bit of the ad and then marching out and buying the product, then that advertiser thinks he’s god. He might just as well go and sue Nielson because he doesn’t believe their mathmatics and is determined to count real live bodies. Millions of them, all at once, from all corners of the country, for every second that the program is on. AND, he’s going to get mad if there’s a big party going on in a few of those houses and they’re not diligently staring at the TV but are, instead, ignoring whats on even though technically, the TV is broadcasting to “viewers” who must be “counted”.

    Oh wait, Rupert already did that.

    It didn’t work.

    Unless you’re saying that the Internet’s destiny is TRULY to take us into the realm of Big Brother where not only are we required to be present, seat, and at full attention every time Honda rolls out a new model of car for the public to then diligently march out and buy, upon fear and pain for fines and/or “viewing fraud” then I am suddenly very very frightened.

    For some reason the clicksters think that they have more the to count Every Single Click and verify Every Single said Click with impossible perfection for all ads running at all times on all websites in all technology environments.

    Where in the world did people get this? Who is pushing such a ridiculeous concept as “click fraud”??? Of course corners are being cut. That is the nature of marketing. Its simply NOT and exact science. The moment it becomes one we are in a LOT of trouble.

    As far as some bot clickers running, you know as well as I do that any particluar ad that is running somewhere that generates anything more than click levels within a normal range for that particular situation will immediately become suspect and be looked at. Should patterens arise they will proably be looked at too. But trying to make the click world into an absolute realm of black and white is the absolute worst possible thing we could use the internet for and a horrific thing to have happen to the human race. Next thing you’ll want to put little sensors on the tips of cigaretes that gather dna from the smokers lips and then send a little blip of data to a satelite in the sky that is programmed to record that the cigarette was smoked and by whom, so as to keep count and slowly away that persons health plan so that eventually that person, if they keep smoking, will be eliminated from health coverage by their fellow human beings for the rest of their lives. And when they get any sort of health problem whether respitory related or not, it will be the LAW tat eveyone else must avoid them and leave them in the street or where they be and ignore their suffering. But that is as logical an assertiion as is your seeming belief that it there is something called click fraud, which is based upon the rather magnificient assumption that it might actually be possible to count clicks on the net in the first place.

    If anybody ever is stupid enough to create a bot army to go out and just blow some pay per click out of the water and then demand payment for it, I think we know what will happen.

    Instead, what we have is a self-regulating situation for which there is a general understanding that not all clicks were really a, oh, how can we say, human-handed as we’d hoped. Some may have been made by ghosts. But if you’re going to do that, then Neilson had better get that wacky math and all its high-fallooten “assumptions” in order and start making PERFECT counts. In fact, everybody had better start getting used to having to prove both intent to respirate as well as taking in only enough air that is actually needed to perform the tast at hand, else they may wind up in jail for not doing enough stepmaster steps to keep them in good enough shape and forcing them to gasp for breath when reaching the top of the stairs. I mean, come on, its the PUBLIC’S air, and the CORPORATIONS ARE spending all kinds of money to keep it clean and save us from global warming. So, I mean, its only fair that those who are not conforming with rigid perfect in both spirit and action be removed and reminded that we all must share this planet. And if you don’t think we know you’ve been tinkering with your government-mandated Respiration Advisor ((R)-Phizer/Cisco Co.) that the government has legally required all citizens to purchase and wear then its jail time for you, you CRIMINAL!

    If this is what the genuis’s of the internet are devoting their time to “solving” whats next Mark?

    Comment by Johnnie Miller -

  55. http://www.isarticle.com

    Comment by Article -

  56. Most of my clients come to me because they do not want to worry about click fraud. They want top 10 rankings naturally. It has come to the point where I dont even offer PPC management anymore. It is a dog eat dog world and with companies hiring software developers to come up with software that clicks on ads in the PPC area and switches IP addresses quickly and does the same over and over. Then you have people that click on competitors just to make it one less click. There are many methods to the madness and search engines do improve their tracking of this fraud but they cant keep up. The problem is PPC is a huge revenue amount for the SE so it will stay for a long time.

    Comment by Brandon Connell -

  57. The post by Scott Griffith is right on. YSN is going downhill by allowing crap sites to be part of it’s “search network”. Since the are part of the search network you can’t opt out of individual sites. Google is the same way but not nearly as bad. I’ve moved most of my ad dollars from YSN to google because of affiliates that are part of their network that are basically parked domains and other worthless sites.

    Comment by Erik -

  58. Interesting comments, though I have to say I don’t necessarily agree with many of the comments here, and coming from someone who runs one of the larger PPC management firms, this comes from the perspective of hundreds of extensive client campaigns…

    1) While click fraud is no doubt a major problem that needs to be addressed (and is a huge priority for Google/Yahoo), I do find it interesting (though not surprising) that PPC advertising is held to such an absurdly high level of accountability than virtually every other medium out there. How many major advertisers have a clue the exact ROI resulting from their radio vs. print vs. tv ad efforts? It is only due to the ability to so granularly track results that this discussion and click-fraud world can even exist. This is not to say that it is not a problem that needs to be looked at closely, but I believe that there is an incredible amount of unavoidable waste in most other mainstream media that dwarfs the 14% (or 8%, or 30%) of clicks allegedly fraudulent in PPC advertising — there’s just literally nothing that can be done about it.

    2) The idea of moving to a CPM model fixes nothing; click fraud simply changes to impression fraud.

    3) The bottom line every day, and this is the bottom line across all of our client base, is that you need to look at all advertising efforts from an ROI perspective; if you are making an ROI that justifies the advertising, then great — if not, you need to adjust the advertising until you hit an acceptable ROI. It is in no way an all or nothing thing.

    4) I agree that splogs are not a positive thing in the search engine marketing world; however, it is hard to say necessarily that a click on a splog or MFA (Made For Adsense) site is necessarily a worthless click. If a splog about mobile phones loaded with ads makes it into the organic search results, and visitors arriving on the page then hit your ad for your cell phone accessories store plugged in by AdSense, I have a hard time believing that that is any less relevant of a click than a click from a “legit” blog about mobile phones.

    Thoughts?

    Comment by Mike -

  59. I wasn’t aware that PPC providers ever guaranteed the ‘quality’ of the traffic.

    Can’t PPC be compared to a freeway billboard?

    You can put the ad in a location with what you think is the best demographic area, but you never really know who will be stopping/driving by – is it billboard fraud when the wrong demographic individual drives by?

    Clear Channel still has a waiting list for advertisers to get thier information on those boards.

    Comment by Doug B -

  60. I manage a large PPC spend at an insurance and financial services company. We are on the front line of the click fraud issue because we are the ones who foot the bill. We have seen how much click fraud can consistently eat out of our ad budget and skew results. The big problem is not competitors clicking on the results — its bad content partners in the search engines’ network that throw junk traffic at our site.

    I think there is a difference between poorly converting sites and sites which are intending to defraud you. But to the advertiser it can look the same. If I know I convert 15 percent of focused terms from Google directly and other reputable sources and then I see a source that has sent me hundreds of clicks and not a single one converted or even stayed around and looked at the site, something is wrong.

    Further, when those clicks are costing $5-$10+ dollars a click, a few of them consistently can be *death by a thousand cuts* to an advertiser. It wastes a lot of our company time and money to have to always scrutinize click logs to see where the *click mafia* is taking money from our account.

    If I was a vendor buying eggs and found that 150 out of every 1000 eggs I bought were bad, I’d be furious. Why isn’t the same standard being held to clicks? If what a search engine sells are clicks, they need to be able to guarantee quality and enhance quality control procedures and feedback mechanisms to improve the over all value and appeal of search engine marketing. It can’t stay like the Wild West forever.

    Comment by Michael @ SEO G -

  61. As a poor writer of what people tell me is a damn good book, I am sorely tempted to use one of those clikc ad services like Google Adsense…but since my computer literacy is severely limited…hell, if publishers didn’t go all high tech I’d still be using my Royal manual typewriter–the whole pay-per-click thing is foreign to me.

    It’s not like you can go to a print shop and get a thousand flyers and KNOW how many you got and where you put them (if you distributed them yourself).

    The other day someone called me up and told me that I won a trip to Vegas, and I told them F YOU because I know a scam when I hear one, and the dude is insisting otherwise! You don’t get to middle age after growing up in some of the toughest neighbourhoods in NYC by being stupid, so after listening to his spiel for amusement I hung up on him as soon as I got tired.

    Unfortuantely, we don’t really have that kind of control in cyberspace…especially when you’re pretty much a newbie like me.

    Comment by EminemsRevenge -

  62. The online advertising industry is defintely moving to a PPA(Pay Per Action) model. This completly negates any problems with Click Fraud. I imagine that there will be some sort of sliding pay scale based on impressions, clicks and actions, where the majority of an advertisers money will be paid for actions. Right now there are several solutions for driving up click rates, however I am not aware of any companies creating a system that drives up actions percentages and I feel there will be real need there.

    Comment by Tom -

  63. Simple analysis of how many times per minute an ad is clicked,, or how many times a certain IP address clicks on an ad, or historical analysis of click through rates, can usually uncover click fraud.

    Comment by Fbmoul -

  64. The only way to stop click fraud in real-time is on the search engine side of the equation, using both server and client side click validation as the click occurs. This patent-pending process has been developed by ValidClick, Inc. I would encourage your readers to follow up with their paid search engine of choice and ask for ValidClick protection. Using redirects to monitor for fraud and then begging for refunds is not a viable long term solution.

    Regards, Mobi Man
    http://mobilnik.blogspot.com

    Comment by Mobi man -

  65. A sure fire way to end click fraud is to go back to a CPM (cost per thousand) metric for advertising. This is already starting to happen. If we know the value of a click, we can surely figure this out on a CPM basis and maintain the bidding, accordingly. While we’re at it, I’m sure that we’ll be adding the banner back to search marketing, as many Brand marketers are interested in brand lift and banners are (am I actually saying this?) more effective in this case.

    Comment by Mark Jackson -

  66. A simply excellent post Mark though I think using your definition of fraud would lead to much higher estimates of bogusOsity of clicks, probably close to 40%.

    Ultimately we’ll probably move to a cost per aquisition models which are largely fraud-proof but in the meantime Google is picking up some very big money.

    Comment by Joe Hunkins -

  67. I think you’re confusing fraud with annoyance. Splogs are annoying, but they are by no means fraud and as unpoplar as they may be, they do provide value to advertisers, as they pre-screen visitors, just like a higher quality site that is designed for PPC ads.

    Comment by Jonno -

  68. If you use Adwords advertising, only allow your ads to be shown on the Google site. This means that only people who have gone to Google to conduct an actual search will shown your ads. Do not allow Google to display your ads on their content network. When you do this, your ads show up everywhere, including other people’s sites. This then creates an incentive for them to click on your ads using proxy servers.

    I learned this expensive lesson the hard way. Allowing your ads to be shown through Google’s entire content network is akin to burning money.

    http://www.antiventurecapital.com

    Comment by Peter -

  69. A read a few valid points here. However, as a publisher, PPA or sales-based ad compensation will never happen. Publishers need to be rightfully compensated for the full impact an ad has on a user/reader. Publishers have always been in the business of providing eyeballs — it’s up to the advertiser to make a sale based on a myriad of factors not under the publisher’s control. ie: creative, product quality and price, ease of purchase, service, warranty, etc, etc. A PPA model would be like owning a restaurant where the customer ate your food first and THEN you asked for payment after the fact. Our economy has not and never will work this way.

    The largest ad spenders (old and new media) by far are the major brand advertisers. They require top-of-mind awareness and recall to stay “ahead” of the competition, among other things. Text ads do not deliver this important quotient. The VAST majority of people reading about cars on motortrend.com are NOT in the market for a new car that day.

    What has NOT been figured out yet is how to serve visual ads online so that delicate line is not crossed — intrusion vs. effectiveness. My opinion is that less is more. Fewer ads on a page. No pop-ups, no intellitext ads. I think interstitials may be the least intrusive if they were widely adopted.

    Bottom line: visual ads have value to a brand advertiser even if the customer does not “click”. Publisher’s should be compensated for this value. If they aren’t the web will quickly morph into a paid content world where only those with the resources can afford mid and top-end content.

    Comment by WT Lewis -

  70. The myspace kid example, at least, is not click fraud. It’s certainly not an optimal use of the ad, but it still does its job.

    An ad is simply intended to get a human in the door. Whether it’s because somebody said “click the ad & make me money” or because the ad actually got their attention, they’re in the door. The ad did its job. A human is there & potentially looking at the site, so it’s not spam. There is a chance – however slight – that they will go on to buy a product. Hey, I’ve done it myself once or twice.

    My definition of click spam would be the simple question: Is there any potential for the click to result in a sale, however slight?

    A *good* ad will get somebody to buy something. But, what percentage of ads are actually ‘good’?

    Comment by Chris Hayes -

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