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Thread: Is Click Fraud Ruining PPC Ads?

  1. #1
    WebProWorld MVP Chris's Avatar
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    Is Click Fraud Ruining PPC Ads?

    With reports that over 50% of PPC ad revenue comes from fraudulent clicks, it appears that the Google/Overture cash cow may be experiencing some growing pains. Around the search engine forums, quite a few posters have reported that their keywords are getting a large number of clicks, while receiving very little conversions.

    Of course, these threads may be a case of poor keyword marketing, however a report from MediaDailyNews reveals the probable culprit. MDN cited a conducted by web analytics provider Clicklab that determined “fraudulent clicks can account for more than 50 percent of all advertising fees attributable to certain categories.” Granted, not all categories receive erroneous clicks, but I have noticed that reports of people receiving residual checks from Google have been increasing.

    The question becomes, can fraudulent clicks ruin PPC advertising? Probably not, but it can certainly damage the reputation. In fact, Andy Beal, who was featured in a Wall Street Journal article about search engine advertising growth, said on his blog, “We'll see continued growth but when you get to a $5+ billion industry, it's hard to grow at 50% a year.”

    However, click fraud, especially if Clicklab’s numbers are accurate (no reason to believe otherwise), can be very troublesome to the growing industry. Are there any methods available to help prevent fraudulent clicks from affecting your ad campaign and your wallet?

    A thread was started on WebProWorld concerning a person’s campaign and how his ads were clicked daily until his budget was exhausted. The poster, Kentyn, stated, “If companies really are clicking-down the competition could this mean a pending doom for Adwords?” If this is what actually happened to Ken’s campaign, than this is the perfect definition of click fraud.

    Responses to Ken’s initial post were full of useful information and tips to help combat click fraud. The first step when you suspect fraud has occurred is to inform Google, Overture, or whoever else sponsors your ads. This was illustrated nicely Marbant, who said, “…noticed the same a few weeks ago but never since. Google mailed me a voucher, saying that abuse was noticed.” This means if there is suitable evidence, Google and Overture will reimburse you for the fraudulent clicks. However, there are steps that you can take to ensure click fraud doesn’t occur to your campaigns.

    Poster TimH offered Ken this advice:

    “If you are concerned with Google AdWord fraud then the first step is to remove your Google ad from their affiliate network, so your ad is only shown on the Google search engine… By eliminating that exposure, you limit your company from 99.99% of the population that could profit from sending fraudulent clicks through your ad.”

    On the SearchEngineWatch forum, moderator Sebastian had some interesting observations concerning click fraud and the ad sponsors, “the engines should NOT do their own fraud protection. It should be a third party company that has demonstrated quality integrity and functional superiority to tackle this problem... an "auditable" company that WOULD release fraud statistics. How can the engines be allowed to NOT release fraud statistics?” Good question.

    Before everyone goes out and cancels their PPC campaigns, there are some statements that should be considered. Peter (IMC), a poster at WebProWorld, offered this advice, “Unless you suspect that most of your clicks are fraudulent, I wouldn't worry too much about click fraud. Just maintain a dynamic campaign, manage it well, and AdWords will do you good.” And kjohnson5576 had this to say:

    “PPC makes the difference between ‘making a living and just barely living.’ Lots of fraud yes, but there is no better way yet to get interested people to the site consistently. Say you rank #1 in the SERPs for 4 major keywords. That's great, but what about the other 150 words people are looking under?”

    Former WebProWorld Admin
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Maximilian's Avatar
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    cpc is dead...

    < self edited >
    Maximilian
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  3. #3
    PPC is a tricky monster.

    Obviously such a system is far from perfect until as suggested previously that a trusted third party can provide a solid audit of real clicks vs. fradulent clicks. Even then it can turn into another Enron audit disaster.

    Many business starting out, simply don't have the resources and time to attain natural ranking. While Google Adwords PPC is readily available at a snap of a finger to drive traffic to your website for any given keyword as long as you are willing to pay for it.

    We live in a culture of quick fixes, and PPC even with fradulent clicks is here to stay.

  4. #4
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    Is Click Fraud Ruining PPC Ads?

    I can only reference my experience with price comparison sites with no change to my website using xml feed. I closed my accounts and 95% of my fraud order (average 1 out of 3) disappeared. The account closings was triggered when my ROI had dropped over 75% without any provable explanation.
    John

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    PPC Fraud is More Rampant that it seems - More info for you

    Hello to you all.

    I was directed here by an associate to have a read of this thread. You are spot of with your comments above, however this problem goes far deeper than it seems.

    A few associates of mine completed a great deal of reserch on this very issue and concentrated on one particular offending group.

    We have put together an article that we have been moving around the net in the circles of Marketers to feel the reaction to the shovelling of their advertising budgets into the hands of fraudsters driving "herd" traffic through portals and being paid for it...

    Read more in the link below and feel free to contact myself through this forum or Oystein through his site regarding this matter.

    http://www.marketingcynic.com/ppcfraud/

    Thank you all for your time.
    Paul V
    PPC Fraud is Rampant and Ripping you off
    Read more here Hidden Content

  6. #6
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    I am a new poster but had to tell you my issues with this!

    Hello all,

    I am James and own a wholesale to the public central air conditioning site. I have been offering this service for a few years and grown by 100-150 percent per year since its inception. I am a contractor in Tampa Bay in the residential HVAC industry as well as online with the shop.

    I have been building and working on web sites since 1996 and was one fo the first to have a "very cheesy" (until I figured it all out) beginer website in our industry which went on for years until the main stream picked it up. This is when I began to find out about the topic you emailed me today, Pay Per Click!

    I had to post! I spend over $350,000.00 per year in online advertising. It is a huge part of our budget to promote the sites. We do just over a million in sales from it and have made a lot from partnering with the right people. The V2.0 still live http://www.homeac.net and the new version 3.0 which is almost ready for the masses is here 68.61.148.37 I have accounts with Google adwords, Overture, Kanoodle, Sprinks, Best Offers kieyword sales and some others including exit exchange and fastclick.

    I had an email rally with Renee at Kanoodle a couple of weeks ago and will never do business with them again. She ended up telling that the acusations I made were very serious and warrant research. I use liveperson.com live monitoring. Yup, I pay the high $100 per month to just watch where customers are and what they are looking at in my sites. It is a wonderful tool. I can watch people run through the checkout process and see what is in their cart by using the co-browse feature. I always get excited like I did from day one when I see a customer on the checkout 4 page making their final credit card payment.

    I had stopped using Kanoodle for about the last 8 months. I forgot why I stopped using them to be honest until I remembered shortly after I added 500 dollars to my account this past September.

    It was 8pm on a weeknight and I decided to add the funds to my account and see how it would work out with a tracking url. I noticed immediately that I was getting blasted with hits. I mean blasted. One problem though. Not one of the visitors went past the home page. NOT ONE!!! I was shocked. I was thinking to myself. What is some fool just sitting back hitting refresh every second? I was freaking out. I got upset and sent Kanoodle an email. I was kind in my email and very professional, at first anyway! This is when I got the responc=se that my acusation worried her. I responded and said my losing 500.00 in 3 hours which I forgot to write above worried me and I didnt care how she felt about me to be frank. I spend thousands on advertising and have felt like I have a killer handle on search engine optimizatiuon and the payper click tactics. I am very aware of my keywords and user trends. I do a million a year in sales. I have this dialed in. At least I feel very comfortable with it. I have been doing this for years! I lost every bit of 500.00 in three hours. Not one hit past the home poage. I was shocked.

    She told me in the next email after I told her I didnt care much how she felt about my second email as I was out 500.00. God, is that how addicts feel after spending 500.00 on something that only lasts an hour or three? Its no wonder why they act like they do. I was terribly ticked off!

    Needless to say it was obvious that all of the clicks where eronious and I was out 500.00. My bad, I will never try the keyword marketing with Kanoodle again. I swear they do it intentioanlly to make more money. I know that is a strong statement but they are so non caring about it and actually get defensive when I called them on it. I am not the aggressive argumentative type but advertising is advertising and 500 is a benz payment. I would much rather have the benz than watch myself get cheated for three hours. Every minut I heard the door bell telling me someone entwered the site smoke was coming out of my ears! So, there one experience...below is the next.

    Last year I also used the google adwords. I was spending like a 800 per day (selling over 15,000 to 20,000 a day for the tracking link I used with them (my average ticket is 1800.00. One day about a year into my campaign I noticed a huge spike in my spending. It was out of control. Before i could stop the auto payment I was out like 10,000.00 bu tno increase in sales. I didnt realize as I just let it run and never having a problem before had no reason to worry about it. I didnt notice until the day I was updating the books and my book keeper mentioned that we needed to slow down with google. She had said it looked like we went way over budget for the month. It was clear there was some kind of script clicking my links. Probably tons of other links too. I think it all started when they made the adsense available. Just my opinion...Kids just sitting there telling all their friends to click the links on their cheesy websites...click, click, click, clcik $$$...$$$...$$$ like a darn cash register!

    Here's the killer with the google problem. After complaining about it, Goiogle actually dropped us stating we do not meet the terms and conditions and appreciate us for understanding. I was looking for the emailas I type this. I have it saved to show myself what not to do when we grow. I thought that was arogant but what to do. I do not worry to much abbout google since I get top meta search placement anyway. Googlebot spiders me everyday and I track this heavily. I get top listings for just about every keyword in my industry plus I have 25 domain names pointing to the homeac.net site. I will do the same for the new replacemyair.com site that is just about ready for roll out and advertising.

    I am sorry this is so long but once I started in I got frustrated all over again!

    Great to see these boards. I am into seo and have been for years. My sites have top-placements whicxh took a long time to get...now google has changed the rules agasin. I have seen three or four separate googflebot ip addresses spidering my site. I read a post the other day that said they have one more. I think they have more than that searcing the web typiucally higher than the manufacutruer of the products we offer.

    Theres my 2 pennies about the cheating that goes on in ther PPC world!
    James McClow
    Hidden Content
    65.61.148.37

    Wholesale central air to the public!

  7. #7

    Something Fishy?

    I'm not sure what is going on, but I received an email that my site was getting clicks for my ads and would I like to continue the service. I thought it was just spam and deleted it. However, since I was changing stats hosting, I then was able to track my stats again after a week and noticed a large spike in visits from strange sites like click4ads (not sure of the exact name and URL) and a thing called DutchTraffic. I also noticed that my google ad revenue was increasing. Anyway, It has me worried since I am honest and I thought, gee, google might ban my site for fraudulent clicks. I'm not sure if this would happen, especially now that the offending vists have decreased, but are companies asking for money and then paying people to go to sites and click their ads? It's downright theft and a worry.
    Jeremy

  8. #8
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    Competitor Clicks

    While I have been happy with my conversion rates with both Overture and Google, I have noticed that I will see a flurry of activity into my site through my live help window using a particular search term from, as an example, Overture, I go into my account and discover that a particular competitor has lowered his bid for that search term one penny below mine, thereby costing me much more per click. This vendor is the type that when the highest bid is say .35 cents, he will put in a bid of like $2.00, and if you try to get in at second place with say a $1.00, he will drop to .99 and then you will get a flurry of clicks. I'm assuming he has a bunch of friends clicking. I contacted Overture, and of course they "see nothing wrong," even though the CTR is much higher than normal for that particular search term.

  9. #9
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    Although I like to agree...

    In some cases this may be true but in my case still having very poor success with visiters maybe 1 million per month Im getting very little clicks anyways so to say half of them are fraud I would have to disagree. but for some Im sure it is very true. on the other hand the people paying for these clicks are doing things on thier end that should be discussed as well.

    Recently I sent a various feedback email to google about advertisers using mass domains to overcome being blocked by publishers. as expected they were very aware of the issue but could not come up with an immediate fix for the problem. and by the way it sounded they didn't seem to have a plan set to tackle the issue.

    Its like walking out at a shopping mall and handing out flyers 30,000 people may read that flyer but it doesn't mean they are going to buy the product.
    but wether or not they buy it doesn't matter you still got to pay the guy doing the walking.

    I watch my advertsing very close, I have been around for about 2 year now in this industry and I have been most successful off of google ad clicks so far.
    I was up late one nite watching the first few clicks and impressions. within first 3 hours of the morning I have 200 impressions and 9 click for a grand total of 20 cents. as you can imagine I wasn't too happy about giving my space up for clicks that generated absolutely nothing for me. as I look at my list of blocked advertisers I have about 10 sites listed all split between 2 companies. they just keep adding urls for the same product. its just the type of thing you look at and say what comes around goes around and Im not reinventing the wheel on this theory, but how long will it last. how far will the advertiser go to sell thier product? how far will the publisher go to get clicks?

    there is still alot of questions to be answered here and Im head strong interested in getting to the bottom of it. I Enjoy the business but it needs to improve on both ends.

    BTW this is my first time posting here although I have been reading all your newsletters for a long time now I hope I can bring some constructive conversation to the group.
    I'll do this later sorry for your troubles

  10. #10
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    Re: Something Fishy?

    Flashfast, one site you mentioned click4ads is a Paid to Read incentivised site. They purchas a script for around 150 bucks and advertise ridiculous membership benifits in the form or either reward points to use for advertising or actual cash money that they are rarely paid for. The point here is it IS incentivised traffic which is in direct violation of SE TOS.

    The owners send a "Support Link" to the members, some of which have over 30k memberbase, and ask them to do a "valid" search to get paid a penny for the efforts. So these visitors you are getting are paid to click or search a penny and the site owner is an affiliate of the search portal or actually own it then they get paid from the Feeds.... That is where your money has gone... to Blind clickers.

    The other site DutchTraffic is a search portal owned by a paid to read program owner. These scripts you can get for next to nothing if not free. Mostly they are just links pages that they send the members to click on what ever links are at the top at the time...

    The other side to this is, the members themselves are incentivising each other and there are roughly 450,000 of these blind clickers, clicking for each other through these Paid to Read sites.

    Believe me when I say more than 50% of your advertising dollar is wasted on these free loaders...

    Paul V

    Quote Originally Posted by flashfast
    I'm not sure what is going on, but I received an email that my site was getting clicks for my ads and would I like to continue the service. I thought it was just spam and deleted it. However, since I was changing stats hosting, I then was able to track my stats again after a week and noticed a large spike in visits from strange sites like click4ads (not sure of the exact name and URL) and a thing called DutchTraffic. I also noticed that my google ad revenue was increasing. Anyway, It has me worried since I am honest and I thought, gee, google might ban my site for fraudulent clicks. I'm not sure if this would happen, especially now that the offending vists have decreased, but are companies asking for money and then paying people to go to sites and click their ads? It's downright theft and a worry.
    PPC Fraud is Rampant and Ripping you off
    Read more here Hidden Content

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