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Fraudulent clicks detection
Not just looking at CTR.
JollyK




msg:1426770
 4:07 pm on Aug 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

The other day, my CTR suddenly tripled. I was really scared that I'd get the dreaded "fraudulent clicks" email, so I panicked, and emailed Adsense support asking them if I could do anything about it. (Got a canned-type response about proprietary yadda yadda, but no fraudulent clicks email.)

What happened was, I had put up an information page on my site for my users (mostly non-technical people) about the MSBlast worm. Somehow, after one day, that page had jumped really high in the SERPs for MSBlast and Lovsan searches, so I was getting many people going directly to that page. (It's the number 5 most-hit page on my site for the month after only being up for a week! Yikes!) I guess they were probably clicking on the antivirus ads, which makes sense if they were looking for a fix.

My CTR is still higher than "normal," but no "fraudulent clicks" email as yet, so obviously they're looking for something other than just a jump in CTR or impressions.

At least, that's my theory. Anyone else noticed something similar?

 

richmondsteve




msg:1426771
 4:50 pm on Aug 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

My CTR is still higher than "normal," but no "fraudulent clicks" email as yet, so obviously they're looking for something other than just a jump in CTR or impressions.

Significant changes in CTR and impressions do not necessarilly indicate fraud and fraud won't necessarilly result in significant changes in either. They're looking for patterns that correlate well to fraudulent activity and I assure you the algorithms they use are pretty sophisticated.

At least, that's my theory. Anyone else noticed something similar?

I removed AdSense from all pages of a site of mine except one page, which is one of the top 2 pages in terms of page views. Let's refer to my CTR before that change as 100. It's now 700 and I don't expect to get a fraudulent activity notice.

BTW, due to how impressions and clicks are calculated the CTR in the AdSense reports is either misleading or flat out incorrect depending on your perception. That's because here's what each measures:

Impression - each time a block of ads are displayed, regardless of whether it's a paid or unpaid (public service announcement) ad

Click - each time a paid ad is clicked

This is not simply my opinion; it's a fact based on testing on a site which displayed a very high percentage of unpaid PSA ads due to Google incorrectly categorizing many of the pages as "negative content" (apparently to deal with adult content pages, though the site deals with crime).

In my case over 90% of the impressions are for PSAs. So if all pages serve AdSense ads the CTR is extremely low. If I limit AdSense code to one or two specific pages it's magnitudes> higher.

Let's take a hypothetical day.

Paid ads served: 1,000
Unpaid ads served: 9,000
Paid clicks: 90
Unpaid clicks: unable to determine

Google calls that a CTR of 0.9% (90/(1,000+9,000)).
It's really 90+Unknown/(1,000+9,000)).
But what I care about is the paid CTR of 9.0% (90/1,000).

In my opinion, Google should redo their reports as follows:

Paid Impressions: 1,000
Unpaid Impressions: 9,000
Paid clicks: 90
Paid CTR: 9.0%

They could also include unpaid clicks, though they'd have to call an internal Google page first for those ads instead of calling the destination URL directly like they do now.

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