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Receiving very targeted traffic and worrying about invalid clicks
50 impressions 30 clicks
blue_eagle




msg:1389957
 7:29 am on Jul 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I just noticed from one of my channels that I received 50 impressions and 30 clicks for one of my channels. My channel is just 3 pages and I receive extrtemly high targeted traffic to this channel. However, this rate just makes me scare and I was wondering if i should notify google about this.

Also, I would like to read you guys estimation about this and I wonder if there are other people with this high CTR

Thanks in advance..

 

hyperkik




msg:1389958
 12:17 pm on Jul 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I wonder sometimes about the rush to notify Google about things like this. Google has almost certainly integrated channel information into its "fraud detection" algorithm. If the clicks are real, and you don't have anything to say but "I didn't do anything wrong", I am not sure what would be gained by notifying them of the traffic.

bnhall




msg:1389959
 3:39 pm on Jul 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

My sites overall average above a 20% CTR for the same reason - niche topics along with highly targeted ads. No problems thus far (touch wood).

paybacksa




msg:1389960
 3:47 pm on Jul 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Not at all unusual.

It's the click that's fraudulent.... not the CTR.

FromRocky




msg:1389961
 4:53 pm on Jul 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

With low traffic channels, CTR can be from 0 to over 100%.

blue_eagle




msg:1389962
 5:47 pm on Jul 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Its the google make us nerveous, not the clicks :)

Thanks,

hyperkik




msg:1389963
 11:32 pm on Jul 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Has Google actually done something to make you nervous, or just the stories in this forum?

blue_eagle




msg:1389964
 3:49 am on Jul 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just the stories :(

I have never felt myself nerveous because I am making good money :((

bts111




msg:1389965
 11:59 am on Jul 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

Send off an email just in case.

Freedom




msg:1389966
 1:45 pm on Jul 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

It's not the ctr I am worried about, but Google. They've cancelled people when they knew it wasn't their fault but someone else got them kicked off.

Alarmist view? Not really. Just reporting what I have observed.

paybacksa




msg:1389967
 3:08 pm on Jul 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

Listen to your instincts... you have too many eggs in one basket.

Listen to your instincts.... listen to your instincts... listen!

hyperkik




msg:1389968
 3:45 pm on Jul 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

paybacksa, easy to say, but...

First, Google is by far the best paying ad program for many webmasters;

Second, Google is the only realistic option for webmasters with esoteric subjects, not well-suited to non-contextual advertising programs or affiliate links; and

Third, should Google cancel an account, it takes all of what? Several hours for a typical webmaster to locate an alternative and install the code?

I see no reason why an honest webmaster who finds AdSense to be by far the best option shouldn't put "all his eggs" in Google's basket, employing less lucrative alternatives only in the unlikely event that his account is cancelled.

blue_eagle




msg:1389969
 5:15 pm on Jul 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

And I was just wondering, if google cancels an account can we open a new account with the same name? or are we "banned"?

paybacksa




msg:1389970
 10:40 pm on Jul 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

I see no reason why an honest webmaster who finds AdSense to be by far the best option shouldn't put "all his eggs" in Google's basket, employing less lucrative alternatives only in the unlikely event that his account is cancelled.

I think you missed the primary problem... this person hasn't done anything wrong, isn't worrying about getting caught, but is still worried!

It's that stress that needs to be avoided... by not putting all your eggs in one basket.

I agree about quickly finding an alternative, but I doubt this poster has that confidence (or why would she worry so much?) So let her go out and try those alternatives, so that they are only an hour or so away should they be needed. She can then go ahead and put all her eggs back onto the AdSense basket... if that's the best economic option.... but she won't be worrying so much anymore, right?

Listen to your instincts --> for peace of mind. Go ahead and bet the farm on AdSense, but if your instincts are stressing you out because it is so risky, you need to fix that problem.

Teknorat




msg:1389971
 12:25 am on Jul 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Here is a paraphrased version of a conversation I had with Google by email:

Me: Hi I have a 900% CTR for 3 days straight these clicks are clearly invalid can you please get rid of them as advertisers should not have to pay for invalid clicks and I don't want you to think I was being bad.

1 Day later.

Google: Hi we have discovered that you have had invalid activity on your account. This is a violation of your agreement with us.

Me: Of course you have discovered there are invalid clicks- I told you. I did not generate these clicks nor coerce anyone else to. Please advise.

2 Days later.

Google: As our system is proprietry we cannot tell you how we found the invalid activity nor what it was. Please ensure this does not happen in the future.

------------------------
Google needs to get its act together in this regard.

StatiX




msg:1389972
 3:03 am on Jul 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

tecknorat, you may have someone trying to grab your site with a spider or other bot like 'grab-a-site'. it follows all links on a page so all ads would be clicked on all pages... check your access logs and ban the ip

cdkrg




msg:1389973
 6:44 am on Jul 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

"And I was just wondering, if google cancels an account can we open a new account with the same name? or are we "banned"?"

You are banned, the punishment is not just confiscation of the revenue from that one account but your site and personal information (I was told by Google about the personal info, but have never checked to verify) is blacklisted and Google won't serve AdSense ads even from another account, for example Opera's AdSense ads just show a blank space if you visit my site that got banned for "fradulent clicks" that Google acknowledged were not my doing, which leads me to my next point:

"Google: As our system is proprietry we cannot tell you how we found the invalid activity nor what it was. Please ensure this does not happen in the future."

How? Seriously how the heck is a webmaster supposed to do that? Pray really fervently? Hope Google's feeling less draconian this week?

In my case, I asked them to please tell me anything about the "fraudulent clicks" because even if they decided to shaft me I want to know if there is a danger I should be aware of in the future with other monetization options.

I did not see any odd traffic at all and didn't even believe the email I got till the ads started showing up blank, so how the heck are webmasters to ensure that it doesn't happen?

For them to have the gall to tell you that is cruel. I can understand not wanting to divulge information that can help reverse engineer the anti-fraud mechanisms they have imposed but the consequence of this understandable policy is that the webmaster has no means to prevent any of this.

The crux of the problem is the policy of the big arbitrary and trigger-happy stick.

The policy is the following:

They won't tell you what "invalid clicks" are taking place but put the onus on you to make sure it doesn't happen under threat of confiscating your revenue and permanently banning you from AdSense.

It's cruel, webmasters in AdSense are not big companies who can easily absorb being shafted.

Why not discount the clicks more agressively? Build in invalid click protection into the rev share? Hell anything but the shafting would be an improvement and they could still protect themselves and their advertisers.

Why not try measures that are less cruel to the small guys? I really wonder if there is a good reason, because generating ill-will this way isn't smart. Especially ill-will with publishing reach.

I've never seen a more effective way to get people to be a fan of Yahoo, or even Microsoft!

hyperkik,

It's not as easy as finding a different advertiser and spending a few minutes switching tags.

For me, it resulted in MONTHS of no revenue, even with immediate measures taken to get new eggs.

1) Google confiscated thousands of dollars of legitimate revenue, depending on when the axe falls this can pretty much be 2 months of site revenue.

Month count: 2 months

2) Signing up for other networks can take time, it's not always instant. Unless the webmaster already knows who is who they'll have to learn and it may well take actually running ads before you know you have a dud.

Let's be generous and pretend this is instantaneous and keep the month count at 2 months.

3) Some networks (like Burst) pay NET90. Revenue you start generating will not get to you for 90 days after the campaigns end. This means it can take 4 months or more to start getting revenue.

Month count: 6 months

4) Some networks add an additional delay to the mailing of the check, so in addition to the payment terms they mail out in the middle of the month.

Let's pretend this doesn't happen and keep the month count at 6.

Now truth to tell, that is a worst case scenario (or close, as I cut out a lot of improbable bad things) and you are more likely to cut that number.

For example, you are most likely to lose a month and a half through Google's confiscation based on statistics. I have read many webmasters say about a month because the third party payment service might have the wheels in motion to pay you for the prior month already.

And maybe you'll get a nice NET30 like with Fastclick.

So, maybe you will *only* be down for 2 months. This is a reasonable and conservative estimate off the loss Google can inflict on an "all in one basketer".

I survived by biting the bullet and accepting donations, and didn't go under and have my loyal (and now pissed off at Google) visitors to thank.

But don't say it's a matter of minutes, because that's insulting to those who actually know just how wrong you are from finding out the hard way.

Teknorat




msg:1389974
 11:34 pm on Jul 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

StatiX - Not possible due to Iframes.

Kinitz




msg:1389975
 9:48 am on Jul 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Google: As our system is proprietry we cannot tell you how we found the invalid activity nor what it was. Please ensure this does not happen in the future."

.

people get banned for click they did not do and then are told not to do it again. how can one 'not do again' something that he didn't do in first place? it makes no sense, it's not logical.

alika




msg:1389976
 1:16 pm on Jul 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

The webmaster who receives the "invalid clicks" email should be proactive and investigate. Check the logs thoroughly and see if anything's amiss.

There was a post here once saying that they received the invalid clicks email (not too sure if they were actually removed from the program). They dig deep into their logs, and investigated. They realized that their site was copied - including their Adsense code - by some unscrupulous webmaster overseas. They reported the copycat to the webhost to have it removed. They then sent an email to Google telling them about the incident, and I think they were reinstated in the Adsense program.

There have been many instances here that showed that you can G is willing to listen to the webmasters -- if approached professionally and in a cooperative spirit -- unless they have solid irrefutable proof of the TOS violations.

cdkrg




msg:1389977
 8:57 am on Jul 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

alika,

1) Some webmasters never get the "invalid clicks" advisory. I didn't, I got a "you have X hours to remove tags" email and thought it was a prank until the tags went dead.

2) Without doing anything you can violate the TOS. If, for example, a disgruntled user of your site started clicking away it can constitute a TOS violation at Google's sole discretion and under their TOS they can terminate you without any complicity on your part.

So it's not enough to stay to the straight and narrow yourself, you also have to count on the good fortune of not having the misfortune of flagging an algo for reasons beyond both your control and awareness.

In my case, I never found anything amiss and still have no idea whatsoever as to the source of the problem Google abruptly terminated my account for.

alain_bonaf




msg:1389978
 12:00 pm on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

>1) Google confiscated thousands of dollars of legitimate revenue, depending on when the axe falls this can pretty much be 2 months of site revenue.

Paypal has done the same kind of thing and they now have legal problem so why don't webmasters unite for that like paypal users have done on [****.com...]

Interesting page here :
[paypalsucks.com...]
Post by former PayPal employee #1
I was a "middle management type" with Pay-Pal until leaving recently- partally due to my disgust over their internal security policies which have led to the mountain of complaints seen on this and other similar boards. There aren't many PP whistleblowers; during your "exit interview" a soon-to-be-former manager is warned, intimidated and threatened against doing the very thing I'm doing right now. But since I left to start my own business, there's not a thing they can do to me. "

Now Paypal is in trouble
PayPal Class Action Lawsuit
[snopes.com...]

Origins: In 2002, lawsuits were filed against PayPal, alleging (among other issues) that PayPal illegitimately restricted customers' access to their money:

Filed in California Superior Court in Santa Clara County, the suit charges PayPal with illegitimately restricting customers' access to their money.

PayPal frequently locks customers' accounts if it suspects that fraud played a part in a transaction, even if the amount in doubt is a fraction of the total amount in an account, said Gail Koff, an attorney and founding partner of Jacoby & Meyers, which filed the lawsuit.

The result is that customers can't accept any more payments via PayPal, pay anyone through the service, or withdraw any of their money until PayPal clears the transaction. That can often take days or even weeks, customers charge.

"Under the guise of needing to protect consumers from fraud, they themselves are guilty of fraudulent abuse of their customers," Koff said PayPal

Those lawsuits were settled in June 2004:

PayPal has reached a preliminary settlement with some customers who accused the eBay unit of illegally freezing their funds. The company said it will pay a total of $9.25 million to settle the federal class-action suit, $3.4 million of which will pay lawyers' fees and costs.

PayPal admitted no wrongdoing in settling the claims, which were filed in 2002 as part of two federal class-action suits that also alleged other customer service deficiencies.

Those two cases were merged, and a third case, pending in California state court, will be dismissed if the settlement agreement is approved.

"In this agreement, PayPal does not acknowledge that any of the allegations in the case are true," PayPal said in an e-mail to customers. The unit "entered into the settlement agreement to avoid further costs of litigation and to devote resources to more productive areas of our business."

hyperkik




msg:1389979
 12:30 pm on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

The situation is quite different. From what you have posted, the PayPal locks involved all money in a customer account, whatever the source, if any part of it was alleged to have been associated with fraudulent activity. The problem does not appear to be that PayPal was investigating fraudulent activity, or even freezing the portion of the account associated with the alleged fraud during its investigation (although that could, also, create legal issues), but that it was freezing money that both belonged to the customer and which it knew had no relation to the alleged fraudulent activity.

In Google's case, the account page does not show "your money" - it shows an estimate of your earnings, subject to Google's audit of the estimate and the AdSense Terms of Service. Additionally, the transaction between a publisher and AdSense is not really business to consumer, but is more likely to be characterized as business to business, making it far less likely that consumer protection laws would apply. Business owners are presumed to have more sophistication in their transactions (including their entry into contracts, such as the Publisher-AdSense contract) than are ordinary consumers.

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