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.