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Impression Spamming
Fraudulent impressions lower CTR and disable ads

 3:53 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've run into what appears to be impression spamming on a paricular keyword. The keyword can roll along nicely at 5,000 impressions per day, then one day it skyrockets to 30,000 or more. The kicker is, there are no more clicks, so it all appears to be some script that pings Google on that keyword relentlessly. So my CTR drops through the floor, and Google disables it.

Anyone else run into this issue, and what can be done to: a) recover as quickly as possible, and b) somehow prevent this in the first place?



 9:06 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

I noticed this over the weekend on a very competitive set of keywords. On Saturday, there were 20000 impressions by early afternoon and my keywords were disabled. And I'd been doing well with them. By Sunday morning, there were no more ads for anyone running for those keywords, and the same for today.


 3:02 pm on Dec 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is what happens when Google states that they are successful at catching click fraud. The crooks turn to impression fraud.



 4:25 pm on Dec 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Is it possible it is one of those services that have popped up recently that tell you lots of information about competitors campaigns? I believe the work by screenscraping periodically .. could be a rogue script and not malicious?


 9:20 pm on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I guess it's possible, but it's only happened twice in the last 90 days and only on one particular keyword. I think a legit script would be more constant and pervasive.

The real problem with this is that I spend a lot of time and energies getting to an optimal position, and developing a great CTR which helps keep me there. This impression spamming is destroying history on the keyword in Google, requiring me to start over in a new ad group or new camapign. Further, it seems Google takes a while to start serving the ad 100% of the time once I do re-start.

This time it knocked me and all of my affiliates off of the keyword for about 24 hours, and it took another 3-4 days to right-size the campaign. When you're talking gross sales of $15k+ per day on this keyword, it really hurts.


 12:48 am on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm pretty sure if you direct the situation to Google support, they'll fix it.

It doesn't seem much of a problem, more like an annoyance.


 7:02 am on Dec 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

I had a similar issue right after the change.. about 10 times the impressions with no clicks on one of the most competitive keywords.. My guess is someone put in a low bid, started a script to generate impressions and clicked on their own ad a bunch of times.. seems like it would be an easy way to get cheap top positions with the new system..



 11:01 am on Dec 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am suprised that Google would disable a succesfull keyword just after one or two "unsuccessfull" days.

Tropical Island

 11:03 am on Dec 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

There could also be the possibility that one of the Google partners featured this term on their front page causing an abnormally high impression count with few click throughs.

We used to find this happening with general terms in both Over and FindWhat in the past. We eliminated those terms and the problem went away.


 11:55 pm on Dec 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

My keyword did not get disabled. But i had been bidding 3 dollars max and was in a top position at about 1.50 or so per click. Now im at 7 or 8 and getting whacked at 2.50 per click.


 7:34 pm on Jan 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I found this quote interesting:

Google is a bit more specific, defining click fraud, "or invalid clicks, as any method used to artificially and/or maliciously generate clicks or page impressions," according to Salar Kamangar, director of product management.


or page impressions - it's already part of their click fraud defination.


 9:26 pm on Jan 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I understand the negative effects of impression spamming, but is there any benefit to the spammer beyond that of pushing his/her competitors lower in Adwords rankings? That could be plenty of benefit, but I imagine it'd also be pretty easy to figure out the guilty party, as that advertiser would be conspicuously absent during the impression spamming period.

Is there any direct revenue the spammer sees from this action?




 9:32 pm on Jan 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

The other reasons I know of relate mostly to AdSense.

If you want to lower your AdSense CTR (i.e. usually when you're also doing click fraud), then you want to impression spam your sites.

Also, to get into domain parking (and some partner programs), requires that you have X page views a month - impression spamming yourself would make you appear larger than you actually are.


 10:29 pm on Jan 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Anyone care to guess what % of Google's search volume is impression spamming?


 3:02 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think it's fairly isolated. Almost by definition, malicious impression spamming happens in spurts, otherwise it affects everyone equally and keeps the playing field level. For it to be effective, it also has to happen at large volume, so it would be noticeable. If you're seeing consistency from day to day, week to week, in both impressions and clicks, then it's not likely malicious impression spamming is occurring.

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