And so it begins. I have a strong feeling that this is the most important development in search in over 5 years. Watch this stuff folks - this is important and will impact your life.
This is about the law and it is about power. I've said for years, that the next big se war, will be fought in the courts and on capital hill. The real search engine wars have just begun.
There is a lengthy discussion about this lawsuit here: [webmasterworld.com...]
We broke the story before any of the internet/mainstream media picked it up.
I think many of these issues could be resolved by not letting everyone and their brother to have adsense on their site.
I was wondering how long it would take for Google to go to court over fraudulent clicks. Everyone knows click fraud exists but no one likes to talk about it. It will be interesting to see where this leads, such as new lawsuits, policies, information as to if click fraud is detectable, etc.
|I think many of these issues could be resolved by not letting everyone and their brother to have adsense on their site. |
Yes and no.
Letting everyone have adsense does open them up to some potential clickfraud liability, but it probably pays in the long run.
Think of all those little "indy-personal" sites that have adsense ads, that will take a year or more to garner enough revenue to get the 100$ cheque. Sure, it seems like peanuts, but when you ad up the tens of thousands of sites out there (maybe hundreds of thousands?) that are like this, that's a lot of revenue G gets to collect, and then bank and collect interest on, for extended periods of time.
A great many of these sites may never collect a cheque, and that's free revenue for G. Which offsets the risk of fraud to a great degree.
What I think we're really going to see, is Google and the other click advertising distributors take a long hard look at technological ways of detecting/defeating the fraud.
And just like with Spam, the hard core fraudsters are gonna stay up late at night trying to figure out new ways of beating the system. Eventually, it will become prohibitively costly to try and beat the sytem, for the vast majority.
Until then, any script kiddie with a bit of patience can come up with ways of beating the click advertisers for quick cash.
Filing a lawsuit in this is kinda like firing a shot across the bow of the fraudsters. If successful, it'll scare the itinerant fraudsters out of the game, and will make the pros an increasingly small, and easier to target bunch.
>>This is about the law and it is about power. I've said for years, that the next big se war, will be fought in the courts and on capital hill.
Capital hill doesn't have much authority outside the US. This will be much harder to combat through the courts than spam because there is no way you can force people to stop. It's easy to stop spam. You just complain to the ISP. This is a different story.
If the ring leaders are not in a country which cares about this issue the only option is to use the Google Geotargeting feature.
I must have missed this the first time it came up - but talk about nuts?
|A California man created a software program that he claimed could let spammers bilk Google out of millions of dollars in fraudulent clicks. |
Find out more [news.com.com]
|The man, Michael Bradley, was so sure that the folks at Google would pay up, he even turned up at their offices for a meeting to sell his software. By then, federal law enforcement agents were already on the case and videotaped the alleged extortion attempt. |
|A growing alternative employs low-cost workers who are hired in China, India and other countries to click on text links and other ads |
It is now clear to me...
A couple of months ago, I was kicked of Adsense and of course I asked what was the reason. Google could not disclose details, they said. I mailed them multiple times, I even gave them my passwords to check the logs or whatever they were looking for.
The thing was this: I bought an expired domain with still traffic on it, about 4 to 5000 uniques a day. 85% came from China. Now I see why they closed my account, although I never would have paid people to click on my ad's, I do see the problem with loads of traffic comming from China and this region.
Too bad, I wish I thought of that earlier. It also made me loose out on sites that didn't have that problem.
Well let it be a warning for others, be carefull with traffic from regions such as the above to prevent yourself a lot of damage!
Unfortunately it's not Google that is being bilked. It's the advertisers that have to pay! Google just passes on other peoples money.
So the filters are not 100% perfect! Wow, who would have known.
Last year, we got frauded; we even took the time to file a complaint:FTC-Click fraud [webmasterworld.com]
Ploblem with ALL (not just Google) advertising:
1)their filter process; what filter process?
2) Inadequate support - their customer service; although human; have all
automated answers to all my questions and do not take common sense into play.
3) Inadequate support cont'd - they should provide the IP addresses that they are billing
for so we can cross reference the data with our log files.
But dats onlee wat i tink!
It will be interesting to see how this comes out. The root of the question is if joe user on his machine - clicks a link, can be construed as a fraudelent action.
Well I think its going to take slightly more than that. Unless they change the law to incorporate "on the spot fines", small quantities of fraudulent clicks won't be worth taking to court.
I believe Google has been waiting for something big enough to file a suit against for a while now. Good on them.
|Unfortunately it's not Google that is being bilked. It's the advertisers that have to pay! Google just passes on other peoples money. |
But it's their program that competes with other's programs of the same fashion and they all compete for ad space. Naturally advertisers will stick to whomever fights click fraud most aggressively and most successfully.
Watch the click fraud fight to become a lot more public and accounts closed a lot more common and public too as this will be one of the ways of letting advertisers know who to trust in this fight.
I hope that this will spur some action relating to redirects and fraudulent clicks from some of the directories out there. I brought this point up in a previous and very long thread at [webmasterworld.com...]
To be able to trigger a click-through by utilizing a redirect is a sham that has been going on for a while. It's companies like these that are going to force some to change the rules on how this all works.
It's funny in a sad way really. I see these companies bilking thousands of clicks through their devious pragramming yet I won't click any links on my adsense sites for fear of having what little I make taken away.
|joe user on his machine - clicks a link, can be construed as a fraudelent action |
I think not; but if joe spoofs his IP address and automates the clicking by use of a bot or that gadget from the simpsons; I would say its fraud!
>>It will be interesting to see how this comes out. The root of the question is if joe user on his machine - clicks a link, can be construed as a fraudelent action.
Yes, what would the basis for that be?
I've seen cases where companies sue each other for deliberately harming the others' business. eg Burger/King McDonalds unfair advertising and also big banks suing each other when one poaches a lot of staff from the other -ie targeting harm at a company.
The other thing is - how do you prove who made the click? What happens on shared IP?
A lot of this issue is going to be connected with Adsense which, although a tremendous concept, is fraught with problems. Sites built purposely for displaying Adsense are rising in the serps, (which is the opposite of its original intent) and its always going to be a magnet for fraud.
What dishonest person is not going to take notice of a system where every click means money?
I have Adsense on a couple of sites so I participate, but it just seems to be turning into something the inventors never envisioned. Once youíre onto the lawsuits to control something, youíre really swimming upstream.
|Naturally advertisers will stick to whomever fights click fraud most aggressively and most successfully. |
Nice to see I'm not the only one who sees this as just another PR exercise for Google. (That's PR = Public Relations i.e. the proper use for the term "PR"!)
Everyone else has better filters and/or more restrictive sign-up rules. Google don't want to do that because it will hurt THEIR profits therefore they throw out this public display to give themselves a little credibility back.
Only ONE lawsuit out of a possible thousand fraud companies over the past year that they most likely know about isn't a strong enough gesture in my opinion. Simply changing their "double-charge" for "double-clicking" rule would make me happier ...
A Google lawsuit is all well and fine, but what we really need is action by law enforcement authorities to send these criminals to jail.
All Google can do is cancel AdSense accounts of the perpetrators, or through a civil lawsuit, cause the criminal to pay money. Thatís not good enough. These people should be sent to prison. They should have a permanent black mark on their record.
We need to get the FBI and other police forces interested, and prosecutors ready and willing to pursue this form of white collar crime. Because a lot of people think itís just a game, a game that if they play well will yield them money. Itís not a game; itís a crime.
Iíll never forget when someone here at Webmasterworld started a thread to report on an experiment he did where he clicked on a lot of AdSense ads in an attempt to see how long it would take Google to cancel an AdSense account. It was OK, he said, because he had permission from the AdSense account owner. This person was confessing a crime at Webmasterworld, and bragging about it, and presenting it as business research. There was another time where a search engine promised to give part of its share of Google AdWords revenues to a charity, and someone at Webmasterworld encouraged people to click on high-priced ads that they had no interest in, just to get money for that charity. This person was encouraging other people at Webmasterworld to commit crimes.
I wish the FBI would monitor Webmasterworld discussions to look for these crimes.
Again, we see AdSense fraud. AdSense isn't the big deal here - people that commit AdSense fraud aren't that bright.
I want to see how Google actually plans to prosecute AdWords fraud.
Sometimes I click through Google Adwords with no intent of buying and knowing full well that it's costing the advertiser; I'm just interested in taking a look at the website and I can't be bothered typing in the URL or finding it through normal SERPS.
Have I committed a crime?
Not a lawyer, but don't think there's any crime in that Merlin. Don't be malicious or abusive with it.
And couldn't a handful of out-of-country proxies get around jurisdictional limitations?
I guess this was inevitable...but I was hoping for a free market solutions rather than waiting for legislation.
One of those things that if there were truly competitive products, it should come out in the wash.
I'd love to see click fraud on both adsense and adwords really targeted, but not through legislation. boo.
What organized crime fails to perceive is that the pervasiveness of the WWW is the best argument - and likely policy accelerant - for standardization of criminal law and law enforcement across national borders.
Organized crime's entry into cybercrime is a form of economic crime (versus drugs, etc.) that brings different (well funded, highly motivated) players and forces to the legislative forum. What trafficking in drugs, stolen goods or people may have failed to provide in the way of motivation for concert of enforcement action the use of the WWW to carry out economic crime may provide. Sad, but likely true.
Of course, the history of organized crime is another argument for Darwin being right ;-) Organized crime will evolve.
Years a go I had a client who was a victim of competitor click fraud, he would go to bed and in the morning his accounts would be depleted but only when he bid on certain keywords, if he left a few keyords alone then he was left alone, however these were the most performing keywords in his campaign, what was worse was that he knew who it was (the competitive advertiser) but actually didnt know who it was by name because all contact info was shielded and the ISP was no help. Local law enforcement stared at us like we were spacemen explaining how our crops were being violated by rival aliens.
Overture and Google gave some credits back but nothing to what the material damages were. Finally, against my advice, he hired a programmer to fight back against the advertiser with a click bot and guess what? The click fraud stopped, he had successfully identified who it was and by fighting back on his own was able to stop the financial drain on his own account. They now live in a semi-peaceful bidding war exsistence.
Google does give you the option of not showing your ads on content sites. This is an option I often use when I am running adwords, then I don't have to worry about a spammer running up their own clicks.
Once again this is a great example of how spammers ruin things for everyone else. If it becomes too big a problem then of course google would become very selective on which sites are allowed to run ads. Many people will choose just not to run their ads on the content sites.
To prevent click fraud is like protesting against gravity; is just not going to happen. They may reduce it; but, give it a few weeks and they would be back at square one.
the old rule stands: if you ROI is + keep advertising...If your like us and got our monthly budget consumed in a few days without any sales or inquiries; thats a good indication that your competitors have a trick or 2 up there sleaves!
So click fraud is a lot like terrorism in a sense. ;)
You can reduce it but it will always exist in some form.
I really don't know what google can do to make adsense a fraud free program or even make it a program that works as they had intended. The only way would be a severe crackdown on those who do not follow strict guidelines.
More regulation, more lawsuits. Adsense has a bright future.
|Local law enforcement stared at us like we were spacemen explaining how our crops were being violated by rival aliens. |
I laughed out loud at that description, but it reflects a serious problem. Offline legal authorities often have no clue about online realities, and even when they have the best of intentions they simply don't understand the issues in situations like those described in this thread.
There are probably lots of existing laws that would apply quite well to online shadiness, but it will take legal eagles with a solid understanding of cyberspace to root out the underlying principles and make the connections. Only then will court decisions and law makers have a hope of catching up with cyberspace realities.
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