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Pay Per Click Engines Forum

The Pay Per Click Scam - And you all fall for it
Don't be fooled by the "extra traffic you may get"

 4:29 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ok, here is the deal. I have done extensive studies of several of the Pay Per Click websites, and noticed that most of the traffic they send is bogus.

Let's start with 7Search.com. I noticed I was getting a ton of traffic from these guys, but none of the people coming to my site checked out any pages or bought anything. Then I looked deeper and noticed that most of the traffic came from the same area overseas and mostly at about midnight to 6am. I bid of works that were spelled completely wrong such as "prezidennt". Then I noticed that these words were getting many click throughs. I ****ed my way to the GM and talked to their head programmers, and I was given a small refund for the fraud I found. How many others were given refunds? How many others spent the time researching IP addresses and proving that their traffic was bogus?

Now on to FindWhat.com. I suspected similar problems with Findwhat as 7Search.com. I noticed that pretty much none of the traffic coming to my site seemed to be by real people. I asked them to send me an IP report and they would not send me one. They said they would look into the problem.

IQSeek.com takes the cake. When I called them and told them that I have been tracking traffic coming from their program and all of it appears to be bogus or fraudulent, the manager called me a "Mother****er" and canceled my account. Within 5 minutes I couldn't log in at all or pull reports etc. But of course I had all of this already copied to my HD before I called them. When I called back I talked to someone else and told them what he said, and they agreed to give me my $$ back, but didn't address the problem at all. Sort of like, you caught us, now get lost.

Sprinks.com gave me credit back for fraudulent clicks and emailed me a report when I complained of fraudulent clicks. They weren't surprised, they looked into it and found fraud when I told them I was positive there was fraudulent clicks and bogus traffic.

I have more experiences of fraud from many other PPC websites. Do not believe all the people who are raving on how much traffic they are getting and how much $$ from sales from this traffic they are getting. Now sure if you get 1000 clicks and 5% of them are real, you may get mores sales, but imagine how much more $$ you would make if you were getting real traffic for all the traffic these sites are sending you.

There are so many sites, mostly the small PPC sites, that are permit this fraud because they make $$ from it. They have nothing to lose really. Everyone loves to see tons of visitors to their site. Don't be blinded by it. Question your traffic. Check out where it is coming from. See how long people from each PPC engine stays on your site and how many pages they view. See how much of the traffic comes from overseas. See how many times each word is clicked on and how many times the same IP clicks on what words.




 5:18 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Great post! I have come to the same conclusion.....sadly $$$ later. The bulk of PPC's are complete garbage and your money and time is best spent in SEO. I just hope that people who are new to online marketing do not follow the path I took to reach that conclusion.


 12:55 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

I am surprised to hear that about Findwhat; I thought that they were a level above the others, in an attempt to rival Overture. However, with 7Search and the others, you aren't telling us anything new ;-)


 12:21 am on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)


PPCs have definitely delivered the highest ROI of every advertising medium I have ever used. But I track every single PPC so that I know which ones are delivering and which aren't.

For example, Kanoodle was sending a large amount of traffic, but the cost of acquisition for a lead was about 10 times what it was using Adwords. Obviously I no longer use Kanoodle.

Another interesting example, with Ah-Ha, by eliminating certain keywords that were delivering an abnormally high amount of traffic, I went from a Kanoodle like ROI (crap) to an Adwords like ROI (excellent) and get the same amount of leads per day.

I don't mind putting in a $25 test campaign with a PPC to test the waters. Some work some don't, but when you find a winner, they deliver.

Just my two cents.


 3:13 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Single keywords in Ah-Ha are a joke. They can deliver more traffic in seconds for a single keyword than even seems believable. Almost every referrer is from revenuepilot.com.

Kanoodle and Ah-ha are both pretty bad. If you lower the bid amount and use very specific phrases, they get a little better. I agree with the original post that the PPC engines are pretty much scams. Adwords is the only legitimate one I've found, and that includes Overture. All of the little ones are getting traffic mostly from affiliates and its redirected garbage traffic. If the visitor is a person at all, the quickly click off your site and never check any other pages.


 4:25 pm on Aug 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think that you have to be careful here.

I believe that poor ROI is often the result of poor keyword research and choice. Single word keywords are rarely going to be capturing targeted traffic that will allow for high conversion rates and high ROI. High traffic is not the goal from a PPC - leave that to optimizing for the free SEs - because it is an expensive way to buy traffic.

My experience with PPC's is that the better ones are instituting more and more fraud protection to block certain IPs and possibly countries and screen against scripted clicks. Furthermore, incentivized referral traffic is discouraged or disallowed.

In my opinion, the PPCs that follow this route will survive and grow, while the others will drop to obscurity.

Specifically speaking, my experience is that Kanoodle is one of the better (stricter) sites, and I would have no qualms about recommending them.


 4:29 pm on Aug 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

PS. I also emphatically disagree with the comment the Overture is not legit. It boasts the lowest 'bounce' rate in the industry, including Google AdWords, and provides a ton of high quality targeted traffic to any site that I have used it for.


 4:55 pm on Aug 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

Same thing happenned even with Espotting.

I used to run the same set of keywords on Google adwords, Overture and Espotting, but spending at Espotting was double the amount of the other two totalled. I complained several time without any positive response, and I dropped Espotting immediately.


 6:23 pm on Aug 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

We have lisings on every PPC mentioned hear with the exception of Kanoodle. While the ROI isn't as high as adwords and OV, it is certainly profitable.

Some have needed close monitoring for the first few weeks and then determination of best bid and removal of a few single keyword phrases. I have found that many of these second teir PPC perform better if you stay in the #3 or lower spot. You are less subseptible to competitor click fraud there.

I wouldn't say they were scam for everyone. We track our sales from each very carfully, so I know we make money, but I have seen comp. click fraud from all of them. I have now just come to consider it a cost of doing business. For as little as they cost, I make more money than I lose to fraud.


 11:41 pm on Aug 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

Furthermore, incentivized referral traffic is discouraged or disallowed.

If you do not incentivize referrals - who is his right mind will provide you with ANY? Can you explain please?



 1:16 am on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

What I mean is paying customers to perform searches, not paying other advertisers to show your results. Sorry for the lack of clarity.

Any time that people are being paid to perform searches, the system is wide open to, and encourages, abuse. This practice is extremely short sighted in my opinion.


 1:41 am on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hmmm... but CUSTOMERS are never paid... and advertisers are not paid to SHOW your results - but when people CLICK on them... That's the essence of PPC, isn't it?

IMHO the problem is that the PPC system is INHERENTLY flawed and open to abuse and fraud. It is just too easy and too tempting. The only way to deal with it - is to live with it and accept it as part of the equation.



 2:59 am on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

I disagree that you just factor in the abuse and live with it.

Of course these sites that farm out their terms will have abuse.
Why wouldn't they? It is easy to do. And the PPC engine makes money
as well as the scammer. It is a good deal for everyone involved except us.
So why play the game. Why pay these sites even a dime. Sure they can
send you 10,000 visitors. 9,700 of them do not click on anything
and leave your site within 2 seconds, but you get 10,000 visitors.
They may even say that 20,000 people clicked thru, and 10,000 were
fraudulent to make you think they are doing something. But they
really aren't. The traffic they are sending is BS.

Now the guy who says he makes all kinds of money from these PPC sites,
he probably works for them or he in one of the scammers.
All these little PPC sites are not worth the $$ for the fake traffic
you get.

How many people do you know that go to www.kanoodle.com to search for
something? How many real people use any of these little crappy
PPC search engines? How many people do you know? I don't think any
of us should give them any $$ or accept any fraud, even for the
few real clicks you may get.


 10:03 am on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Exactly....who in their right mind makes legit searches at Kanoodle, Ah-ha etc. Thats why I only use AdWords now. After stepping back a few feet and asking myself where do my customers search on the web...7Search? Finding a qualified customer at these peanut ppc is like a needle in a haystack. Put your ppc budget on Adwords.


 12:40 pm on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Nope, I don't work for them and I'm not a guy, I'm a gal ;) . I actually work in an industry that has very little understanding about the internet (which makes my job fun). All I did was take many of the tecniques that we use for our traditional sales outlets and applied it to PPC. Trust me, my boss wouldn't let me run these ads if they didn't make money, and I, unlike many "internet" based companies, have to show that I actually, really made money. Not that sales rose, not that traffic rose, but that specific ads brought X amount of traffic that resulted in X amount orders and money.

Why do I consider fraud a cost of doing business? Well, because I make money and the amount of fraud that comes through isn't worth my time to pursue. I have a choice, I can shut down the whole thing and not make a dime off it or I can make say $5 a customer (profit) with the knowledge that without the fraud, I would actually make $7 - $10 a customer.

Don't get me wrong. It does burn me up somtimes. But I can get mad or I can make money. Also keep in mind that I am in a market where (at least in 2nd tier) there isn't much in the way of competition. Most of my bids are on keywords that only cost me a cent or 5 per click. The idiot who wishes to spend all day clicking on my ad isn't really costing me all that much and has probably lost more in money in relation to their time then I have on the # of clicks they cost me.


 1:03 pm on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hmmm... but CUSTOMERS are never paid... and advertisers are not paid to SHOW your results - but when people CLICK on them... That's the essence of PPC, isn't it?
IMHO the problem is that the PPC system is INHERENTLY flawed and open to abuse and fraud. It is just too easy and too tempting. The only way to deal with it - is to live with it and accept it as part of the equation.


Customers certainly ARE paid for their click thrus in some cases... what do you think incentivized traffic is?

If the PPC system is inherently flawed, as you suggest, (and you DO have a point), what makes AdWords different? What about Overture?

In the short term, it is tempting for both the PPC and its affiliate to deliver fake clicks and garbage traffic, but in the long run, they are shooting themselves in the foot. I agree that an advertiser should be wary of the little crappy PPC's - but the real players in the industry have to deliver real clicks - or there will be no industry because there will be no customers.


 1:10 pm on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Main reason Adwords is best - no affiliates. Remove the affiliate structure of ppc and remove the fraud.


 1:51 pm on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Adwords does have affiliates. They appear in a few places, including all of the Infospace properties and BTOpenWorld. I am sure that there are more affiliates in the US as well.


 4:37 pm on Aug 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Remove the affiliate structure of ppc and remove the fraud.

Agreed. The difficulty then becomes generating enough traffic. Probably the best all round solution is REALLY carefully vetting potential affiliates, and monitoring the click thrus that they are sending to ensure high quality. Not perfect... but workable in the real world.

The PPCs that do this will grow and enhance their reputation. The others will become fodder in this, and other, forums.


 9:14 pm on Aug 10, 2003 (gmt 0)


If you actually think that all the fraud comes from your competitors
clicking on your ad over and over you are sorely mistaken.
The fraud comes from computer programs from affiliates of these PPC
engines. Computer programs that use other computers from all over the
world to randomly search for terms and make clicks so that both the
PPC company and their affiliates make $$ from you.

And wow. If you are making such a great profit on these small
PPC companies, why not write a book on it.

I guess if you get 10,000 bogus clicks a month and you are selling
something that makes you $2000 profit and you make only 1 sale,
then I guess you can make money. (If you even get one 1 real person
clicking through). But most people the PPC engines will not
pay off for them. All those little PPC engines are not worth a
single cent.


 9:31 pm on Aug 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I wish I could travel back in time and take all the money$$$$$ I wasted on the sleazy PPC's and put it into Adwords.


 12:55 pm on Aug 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

To tell the truth, I had always assumed that it was competitors due to the fact that the click fraud seems only to occur when I am in #1 or #2 postition. Anything lower, and I am generally left alone. But I guess a computer program would result in the same effect.

I don't think there is any big secret. I use the same tatics on adwords and OV as I do on the smaller ones. And to tell the truth, I normally just clone my ads and keywords from those two. I let them run for a week or so and eliminate or lower the bids on the keywords that are obviously being attacked and after that, I make a nice profit off what's left with a check on top clicked keywords every few weeks to ensure that things keep going as they should.

I guess the secret is that I don't let it get to the 10,000 bogus clicks and I have literally thousands of keywords. They can't get all of them and people do legitimate search by some of them.


 1:29 pm on Aug 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just for the heck of it, I dropped $50 more on both Ah-Ha and Kanoodle this weekend. I placed my bid so that my listing was on page 5 of the search results. Now this is page 5 of such luminary search engines as www.com My money was exhausted in 3 days! All of the Kanoodle hits came from hotbar.com which is some sort of weird toolbar with email ads and the Ah-ha ads were page 5 or worse results. As I lowered my bids, the results starting coming in faster, as if the algo of the search engine speeds up to burn your money faster.

Not one of these "visitors" clicked on a single page. They didn't take a poll, join a forum, anything interactive. I am willing to say definitively that my ROI is 0.


 2:52 pm on Aug 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

All those little PPC engines are not worth a
single cent.

That is not true. There are many small ppcse's that send decent traffic and are not out to just waste your money.

Let me tell you an interesting story that happened to our systems recently.

We were using searchfeed as a backfill for some of our results and a "bad" affiliate signed up with us and was using pure proxy traffic to generate false clicks and searches.

We did not do anything at the time because our software blocked all of this suspicious traffic but unfortunately searchfeed did not and was charging their advertisers, we learned this from an email they sent us.

The affiliate had to be disabled.

My point is, the smaller ppc's, the legit ones anyway, can do a good job at sending you quality traffic and even eliminating more effectively, false traffic that even the bigger guys cannot block.

Of course there are sites run by scammers and usually you can tell just by looking at what they offer and their site designs.

[edited by: akande at 2:58 pm (utc) on Aug. 12, 2003]


 2:56 pm on Aug 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Main reason Adwords is best - no affiliates. Remove the affiliate structure of ppc and remove the fraud.

Google adwords does have affiliates and they are the thousands of websites that are currently using adsense and the few quality high trafficked sites that use their search results.


 3:03 pm on Aug 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

I can relate to your $50.00 being vaporized. We need to contact '60 Minutes' or something. PPC fraud needs to be exposed in a massive way. Some many honest advertisers trying to promote their business have no idea what is really occuring - ppc driven by unchecked affiliate fraud. Most advertisers ,like myself, are not technically inclined enough to start analying logs looking for 'Hotbar' etc.
Attention : Ed Bradley, Mike Wallace, Steve Kroft..please help.


 3:51 pm on Aug 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Your $50 loss is absolutely normal. And yes, people do not check
their logs. When you send 10,000 people to your site and they
do not visit any other page, don't enter a contest, don't take a
poll, don't click on a single thing, then you know that it isn't
real people coming to your site.

I made identical pages and sent only PPC traffic to each page
to see what traffic was doing what. The PPC pages had no anything.
No clicks, no sign ups, no page views etc. It doesn't take a rocket
scientist to tell you that this is a scam.

Yes I think someone should be notified to investigate these places.
And "these PPC scam artists aren't worth a single cent" comment,
well they aren't worth your $50 to give them a shot either.

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