24 December 2005

Click fraud company sold for $21M

Litmus Media, which runs a click fraud company called ValidClick is the subject of a Letter of Intent to be bought for $21M by the Think Partnership. Follow the link for details.

04 December 2005

Forget Click Fraud, Fix Technical Money Loss

IncrediBill makes an insightful post about the "hysteria" of click fraud and that it is a "dead horse". Be that as it may, he challenges the PPCSEs to fix technical issues such as:

1. Advertiser's site goes offline, so the clicks go nowhere.

2. A network issue leads to dead clicks

3. Accidental ad clicks

Check out his post.

09 November 2005

Informal Click Fraud (aka Click Fraud as tip jar)

The blog writer at FrozenNorth.org has posed an interesting variant of click fraud, which he describes as an electronic tip jar. Before AdSense, some web sites used to encourage visitors to click the ads and visit the advertisers but as this contravenes the AdSense ToS, a publisher cannot openly encourage clicks. I don't see such use of AdSense as being any more of a tip jar than, say, its use on any other publisher page.

12 October 2005

Four keyphrases, four ads clicked within 34 seconds

Now here is a classic click fraud symptom. This user at used a proxy server at a Level3 site in San Francisco to find four of our ads and click them within seconds.

Update: The "cuplrit" was Google. Apparently the Adwords people use this IP address when checking your ads. :) The official answer from Google about these clicks was some boilerplate answer which said how wonderful their system is, but nothing specific.

10 October 2005


Øystein Halseth Lund has a great site that features click fraud - how people commit it and what the SEs are doing about it. Well worth a read!

Kanoodle - Computer Generated Clicks

In this post and in a followup, John Cunningham writes about his experiences with Kanoodle.

The Chattanooga Click Click

This Bellsouth user in Chattanooga, TN, just loves to click - 11 times, no less. He didn't buy any calendars after all that. Google only charged me one click, which could have been for someone else.

07 October 2005

Another shed-loving AOL clicker

I am seeing such click behaviour daily and cannot make up my mind whether this is fraud or a novice web user. Unless I were to see someone clicking an ad several times to return to an advertiser's site, I won't be able to ask them why they do that.

18 September 2005

OT: JenSense interviews an AdSense millionaire

My fellow Webmasterworld member JenStar runs the best known AdSense site that I know of. Here is an inspirational interview with the man who has over 80 blogs and makes over $1M a year from AdSense. He has 9 staff and over 100 blog writers...

Adsense Click Fraud Dissected

This article by Joseph Tierney is different from the usual rehash of how click fraud is perpetrated. Many sites have reprinted this article and it is worth reading to see a fresh dissection of the typical AdSense ad and how it is easy for the knowledgeable culprits to get past Google's click fraud detection service.

'Click fraud' suit against Google, others sent back to state court

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) - A federal appeals court says a class-action lawsuit alleging "click fraud" by Google Inc. and other Internet companies should be heard in state court rather than in a federal courtroom.

I don't know much about the US legal system, but wouldn't it make life easier for all concerned if there was one ruling that applied to all of the US?

More from law.com

17 September 2005

Viet Cong and Click Fraud

You might not think this is funny. When I was in high school I used to read about these bad guys called the Viet Cong (VC). While searching for occurrences of "click fraud", I found this post called A VC: Internet Axis of Evil (continued) where a VC named Fred Wilson lists Click Fraud as one of the Internet Axis of Evil. Now I don't live and breathe the jargon of the Valley, since I live in Melbourne, Oz. So it took a few seconds to register that Fred wasn't the kind of VC that I instinctively think of.

It is reassuring to see a growing awareness of this problem but this awareness is minuscule. Taking the world of PPC advertisers, I suspect that the majority is not even aware of the problem. My day job involves running a department that sells search engine marketing services to the SME sector. Many say to my staff, "I am wasting $xxxx on Overture/Google/whatever" - either they don't know how to write ads or to bid wisely, or they have experienced click fraud - or all the above.

Then there is the sceptical segment that says, "Yes, it has got to exist but is it really a problem?". This segment can be turned into true believers if only they found a way to track their clicks. I hang out (when visiting the US or online) with some of the identities at Webmasterworld and many of them make tidy sums in the affiliate marketing game. Some use PPC ads to drive traffic. With 1-2 exceptions, the rest are singularly not interested in the click fraud problem. This ostrich mentality is troubling.

The final segment includes our friendly VC in New York, John Battelle, a few others, and me. Perhaps you too. Please comment on why don't PPC advertisers want to know about click fraud.

15 September 2005

MarketingExperiments.com research on click fraud

Our research indicates that as much as 30% of paid search traffic may be fraudulent.
This site requires free registration to view the material.

One of their experiments was to place an ad on a contrived phrase (click fraud spelt backwards) and they clicked the AdWord repeatedly. Their findings agree with mine that clicking one ad repeatedly will either not register at all in Google, or at worst you will be charged for only one click.

Clicks made from a sophisticated adversary are a totally different matter.

11 September 2005

Vericlix comparison

I also track my sites with VeriClix, a free service. Someone's clock is out of sync, because the visit from the Comcast subscriber shows only once at Vericlix, but a few minutes out, so I cannot say which of the four clicks it is.

Google's click fraud detection better than I thought

I hate to admit it, but you have to give credit where it is due. I have been following just one keyword but it may apply to others. Google has only charged me for one click in the past 7 days when the suspicious clicks for that keyword are at least 10 to 15.

I think I know what click behaviour is ignored by the Adwords software (i.e. not charged to the advertiser) but I am not going to spell it out here.

Arrow sheds attract the clickers

What is it with Arrow Sheds? They're probably OK, if you are into sheds, but these "arrow shed" searchers just like to click my ads but they don't buy anything. This Comcast visitor from Nashua, NH is a good example of the 2-3 daily clickers who visit my site every day. At least he made an effort to click deep into the site before going back to the Google SERP and clicking the ad four times.

09 September 2005

Does click fraud bother you?

I have had a few conversations with several people about click fraud tracking services and have found a common theme: they are sceptical about click fraud and are sceptical about services that claim to find it. This does not make sense to me.

Is it like people who don't believe in god also don't believe in a service (religion) that claims to find this elusive being? Now that makes sense to me. :)

Are there any true believers (in click fraud)?

03 September 2005

Organic paid clicker

On the 29th, this user from rrcs-24-73-180- 122.se.biz.rr.com used an organic search result, then a paid click, then an internal click, followed by the usual pattern of paid-organic-paid-organic traversal.

Texan clicker

Looking at an earlier visitor, this person showed a similar tendency of clicking an ad, then an inner page.

Drilling down the AOL visitor

Drilling down the IP address of this visitor, you can see that he (they're always "he", right?) clicked an ad, then clicked an internal link; clicked the same ad, then clicked an internal link; clicked the ad, then three internal links.

This can also be seen in the click path in the second screen shot.

The AOL clicker

AOL is favoured by clickers because the IP address never stays the same. In one session, you could be given numerous IP addresses. This visitor searched for "arrow sheds" more than once.

Strange click pattern

The PPC Fraud Analysis view shows recent clicks and I am showing the weekly view. I look for entries that show more than one click. Let's look at the second entry.

Victim of click fraud

I manage PPC accounts for myself and my employer and have done so for others in the past. I know that click fraud exists - or there are some very strange individuals out there who love to click the same PPC ads several times.

I have enabled three of my sites with the free (during beta) click fraud service by Visitlab. I am going to post examples here.