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Adword Abuse
Advertisers clicking on others' ads

 10:51 am on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm currently working in a country in the Med. where the business world is a little strange. After speaking to some potential clients who all advertise on Google, I found out that nearly all of them spend atleast one hour in the morning clicking on their competitors adwords so their competitors will pay for each click!

I understand that some of these folks are paying $8 per click!

Is there some system in place by Google to prevent such abuse?!




 10:59 am on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

This will be nice place for googleguy to respond.

But i remember seeing our adword on a Google SERP page once, and i clicked through to it to check it. Then I backed back to the Google page and it reloaded, but this time our ad wasnt there!

Just one small instance, but it could suggest one way Google is guarding against this. Im sure they have many ways they check for multiple clicks from one IP also. But interesting question. It would be nice to know of what security that have in place.


 11:15 am on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Chiyo this is more likely to be because of their rationing of an ad that is likely to use up all the daily budget.

Adwords do have methods to detect false clicks but I don't think they are very good. That said probably stops the average competitor.


 11:30 am on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Excellent point hurliman. That explanation seems just as plausible.

On a related note, would it be hard for Google to limit clicks to a certain amount a day (1, 2?) form one IP or 1 user (do google use cookies?) I guess it has to far more sophisticated than simple IP checking to allow for different people from the same ISP's etc.


 12:39 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I know one of the PPC's limit multi clicks from the same IP to 1 per x minutes.

We tested their security measures on our own account and then gave them the evidence of how weak it was.

They very kindly refunded all these "false clicks" .


 1:02 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Even if you limit IP's, here everyone has only ISDN (DSL hasn't gotten here yet) so you could simply disconnect and reconnect, and get a new IP addr.

And since you have only one large ISP here, you don't want to do any group-B blocking, otherwise you screw over a lot of people who could be potential "clickers".


 1:08 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Indeed that is one of the weaknesses as are clickers using multiple proxies.


 2:27 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, I can't comment on Google reporting as compared to site logs as I don't have any stats(!) but yesterday on a certain other PPC's ad I was billed for 14 clicks and actually received 146. But I'm not complaining...


 3:25 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I found out that nearly all of them spend atleast one hour in the morning clicking on their competitors adwords so their competitors will pay for each click!

as any good PPC consultant such as Mike Mackin or Webdiversity would tell you:

If this is how they are trying to beat the competition, then they are NOT very clever.

leave the fraudulent clickers clicking, whilst the real players are out there making money.



 3:29 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I found out that nearly all of them spend atleast one hour in the morning clicking on their competitors adwords so their competitors will pay for each click!

In a way they are helping the competitor get better results and pay less per click. The way AdWords works, the higher the CTR, the better positioning you get. Am I wrong?


 3:45 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I _never_ said they were clever. :-)


 5:23 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yes Defanjos. You are correct. The more clicks an ad gets in relation to others will move you up in rank and possibly lower your cost per click also.


 5:33 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I do think that competitors are clicking away at many of my adds, thus I do not use Adwords anymore, it was just to odd for me... many hits no e-mail etc, not one. For a test twice of a 100.00 account $200.00 is not worth it as I had no business.

On my SERP I am getting about 1-2 inqueries a day and makign deals. Being on page one on google for a major SEO is great.

All best


 6:10 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Can anyone confirm whether Google blocks proxy lists available on the internet?


 8:23 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

How can Google cope with AOL? These use many, many many proxies (never counted them, but I guess there are over 100).
I never thought of abusing adwords this way, cause I thought Google had that covered. Guess I'll be grepping my logs a bit more from now on....


 9:21 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

As I stated unless Googleguy says something material about this I will never use the service again, just my opinion, see my above post. I truly trust that many SEO competitors are abusing my listings. I know SEO is quite competitive as is web design but my listings never produced any queries but I kept paying a lot of doe. If my site produces results from SERP's then I feel it is not my site but who is clicking and why. 1 + 1 does still equal 2!

All best - no edit


 2:00 am on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Wouldn't it be far more realistic if companies charged a flat monthly fee for your keywords? I mean, this is whatt television, print media and radio do. It doesn't elimnate competition because people can still out bid you, but least you know you are getting what you paid for.

I quit the PPC thing long ago. I ran some tests on my own account on both of the top two PPCs and it was clear that it's far too easy to click on competitors. For example, I picked a keyword that is never searched and clicked it 25 times a day for three days in a row. I repeated the test on both PPC's and on one additional keyword. The system is flawed. In many cases, you'd be better off investing your money in a 21 game on a gambling site (darkly funny but dangerously true).

I'm patiently waiting for a new model. Paying by the month would be my suggestion. Competition is just as fierce, but cheating is virtually impossible.


 4:56 am on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree 100% DVDUVAL

I think this PPC is a total waste of my time and the same for others in our sector; we all know to well how the net works and how this will never work for us.

I think I will add a story about my feelings on this soon to my site as I think many are on a big ride.

In all honesty.


 6:44 am on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think what would be a great option to have would be still having a system such as Google's where you are bidding for the placing, but as some have said, having it pay per month, or week. You could then have the same style of placement without the added risk of people "cheating". Although I'm sure the pay per click produces a lot more money, which has to come in somewhere.


 7:01 am on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

We already have pay by the month with Google dont we? ..And its caled premium listings..

Also important to note that it involves a major financial pre-commitment. Adwords provides a way for niche publishers to advertise, and for us, it is working, with Adwords clicks providing more motivated buyers than "normal listings" and at a good ROI. (until they raise their minimums!)

If you are tracking your adwords clicks and conversions, and know the ROI yourself, the amount of people fraudently clicking is factored in and becomes irrelevant.

Fruadulent clisking is the key problem for all PPC. I would think google have resources at least as good as any other PPC merchant for dealing with it now, and moreso in the future. But as i said, if you are tracking and doing you accounting well, its irrelevant. Its your ROI compared to other methods that is the key.


 8:24 am on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

To be honest I think there are more fraudulent clicks on Overture listings than on AdWords.


 8:37 am on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Pay per click isn't the advertising method ment for the Internet. A few years ago, every program on the block was PPC now every program is pay per sale because its just more efficent and less fraud. I've stayed away from PPC and im doing well.


 8:44 am on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Stay clear of Overture. I pointed out fraudulent clicks in my logs - about 6 in less than a minute or two from the same source. They waffled about "safety procedures"; refused to refund my money and totally ignored the evidence. They refused to answer my emails. They couldn't return the money because this would have been an admission that their "safety procedures" don't work. Waste of dough. I don't bother about ppc now - anywhere.


 8:53 am on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)


As I said PPC is a waste, there is no logical way for this unless all your PPC are .05 or less, if they are they are prob. not so competitive.

With my PPC rates at 5-7.00 US Dollaroes no way I will put up with freud at all.

I make plenty with top page positions with plenty of midnight oil, I mean serious midnight oil! It pays!

Forget AdWords and Overture if you are a serious ROI type, place your money in SEO work not PPC, ROI is a million times better and all my clients are very happy! This is for sure... I can't keep up on my end to much work.

All best to the rest!


 12:54 pm on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

No question about it... fraudulent clicks are a reality, and I dont care what GG says about it, unless he can address the proxy issue. I have received Google's standard replies and etc., but they have never answered how they handle even AOL proxies, let alone other proxies that you can set up.

With rates even at $2 per click, I got burned badly. I was successful for over 2 years on ROI, and then it suddenly went in the dumpster... very clearly and very dramatically. I had to pause my ads or go broke.

But one not so competitive phrase did not suffer this click fraud and I still am using it today. Not many returns, but the ROI is right where it always was.

I would love to do premium listings, and I have the budget, but I can't crack into it (all positions are sold).


 1:06 pm on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

How does the proxy thing work?
And if it is so successful for your competitors - how come you ain't doing it back?


 1:49 pm on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

AOL uses multi proxies by default and thus an AOL surfer comes from varoius IP addresses during a session.

So in your logs what appears to be different users visiting your site or clicking on your ads can actually be one AOL user.

PPC don't seem to be that well set up to deal with this.


 2:10 pm on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>And if it is so successful for your competitors - how come you ain't doing it back?<<

1. Because it's not right.
2. I have better things to do with my time.

Receptional Andy

 2:20 pm on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>So in your logs what appears to be different users...clicking on your ads can actually be one AOL user. <<

This is technically incorrect.

Although AOL (and other proxies) do assign multiple IPs to one visitor they can only ever assign one per aspect of a web page (e.g. a frame or an image) so when an AOL user clicks once on your ad, it shows up as one visit. i.e. only one IP can request the url that shows up as a clicthrough at a time.

The major problem with proxies like AOL is they artifically inflate visitor numbers from log analyser/trackers that count visitor based on IPs. But the multiple IPs would kick in once they hit your site, NOT when the user clicks on a PPC ad.

Overture, Google et al DO have systems in place to prevent fraudulent clicks, but they are obviously less than forthcoming about exactly how, because if they say how they do it, people will find more ways around it.

I'm not saying that fraudulent clicks isn't an issue, just that the PPC companies do appreciate the importance of it.


 2:54 pm on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

> would kick in once they hit your site, NOT when the user clicks on a PPC ad.

U are quite correct, I expalined it badly but in effect these proxies do get round the PPC trap on multiple clicks from the same IP within a certain time frame.

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