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This 255 message thread spans 9 pages: < < 255 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 > >     
Fraudulant Clicks
it wasn't me!
papamaku




msg:1382830
 8:29 am on Jul 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi all, I got this email from Google Adsense saying that they'd detected fraudulant clicks with my account and that they were investigating!, but in complete honesty it wasn't me!

I've only had the ads on my site for a few days now + may have made 2 or 3 test clicks on the first day, but that was it.

Do you think they're trying to get out of paying me?

Thanks

Maku

 

saoi_jp




msg:1382860
 3:08 am on Jul 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree with chiyo et ali on this.

My clickthrough is rather high, considering that I've been looking at my own pages to see what ads would come up. So my pageviews are inflated, and my CTR is lower than actual. I was impressed with the ads; Nearly all are very well-targetted, and more than once I was intrigued enough to type the URL into another browser (rather than waste an advertiser's click).

[edited for clarity]

yoyo8




msg:1382861
 6:29 am on Jul 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

When developing on my local machine, I supress the display of Adsense. Instead I display a box with 'text ads' written. This way I don't skew the 'Impressions'/Clickthrough Rate'.

killroy




msg:1382862
 10:13 am on Jul 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just done that on the V2 of my site on my development machine. Mostly because it's incomplete and brandnew, and I didn't want google reps to drop in to cehck out what wierd url the ads are requested from.

Now I use:

<div style="width:120px;height:600px;background-color:white;border:1px solid grey">
Ads by Google
</div>

As my place holder :)

SN

Eltiti




msg:1382863
 2:09 pm on Jul 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Last night, I got the same email as papamaku, and was *very* upset, since I was 100% *convinced* that I had done nothing fraudulant.

When I thought about the matter for a while, I could think of only two potential problems:

1) My development machine and my web server are behind a firewall and share the same IP address (from the POV of the "outside world"); perhaps GG got page requests with strange "referrers", i.e., me looking at my pages locally. (Mind you, this would only skew the number of *impressions*, not clicks!)

2) I use an HTML validator that also checks links, and validate quite often when I'm working on a page (old habit), and it occurred to me that this *could* be perceived as a "robot generating clicks or impressions".

(BTW, in the context of "fraudulent impressions or clicks", the email explicitly mentions "robots or other automated query tools", but it does *not* explicitly mention "clicking your own links" --even though that is certainly a Bad Thing, IMO!--, an issue mentioned by several posters to this thread.)

One red flag that was mentioned in the thread also applies to me: I have a CTR that is quite high (even somewhat higher than papamaku), with a rather nice CPC, too! :-))

Unfortunately, the number of *impressions* is fairly low (let's say: "Less than 200/day"), so in absolute $$ we're not talking about huge amounts... :-(

FYI, I put AdSense on *some* (less than a dozen) of my pages that had some traffic but were making little or no money from affiliate links.

Perhaps it is *useful* to have AdSense ads on some pages but not others --viewers may be "surprised" by them and check them out?! (That could explain part of the high CTR.) On the other hand, of course, you're missing "opportunities for exposure" on other pages, so your resulting revenues may be higher, lower, or the same in the end...

Anyway, I sent GG a lengthy, detailed reply (as you can see from this post, that's not too uncommon with me...).

If I get useful feedback from GG that I may share with this group, I will certainly do so.

==

Out of curiosity, papamaku, (how) was your issue resolved?

rogerd




msg:1382864
 2:45 pm on Jul 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Eltiti, I doubt if it is your HTML validator that is causing the clicks unless it runs javascript...

Eltiti




msg:1382865
 3:13 pm on Jul 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

rogerd,

No, I don't think the validator causes the *clicks*, either --but perhaps some of the *impressions*?!

The reason I mentioned it was this stuff in the GG email about "robots" (their emphasis *really* seemed to be on this), and the only thing Remotely Robot Related that I could think of was the validator...

(Scary thought: If they *do* count as impressions, my "actual" CTR would be higher still...)

loanuniverse




msg:1382866
 3:20 pm on Jul 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

I understand why anything over 10% CTR would cause suspicion. I mean even if your visitor were to visit only 2 pages and saw two adsense ads, the actual click/visitor ratio would be 20%.

Having said that:

Free Papamaku!
insert smily gif with right hand raised in a fist

mat_bastian




msg:1382867
 3:42 pm on Jul 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

hehe... I think in alot of cases they does a fabulous job with it's targeting, so much so that I legitimately want to click. I don't, I just type in the url, but they do such a good job on occasion that I am legitimately interested in what is offered from my site and others! It's really exciting to see advertising that works!

Tiebreaker




msg:1382868
 4:01 pm on Jul 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

I too have a high CTR like papamaku - was 15% for the first couple of days, but the average has dropped to about 8-10% now - still too early to say what it will eventually settle at.

My site is also travel related - which seems to get higher CTR's than most - so I'm hoping Google will take this into account and just compare my CTR with other travel sites - not everyone out there.

No fraudulent clicks here - but I'm scared stiff of being dumped!

I have to say, I don't see why people think these CTR's are so extraordinary - with my regular affiliate links, if I create a page which is highly targeted at a single subject - and then have a single affiliate link as the only 'exit' - I can get CTR's of 30-40% easily.

So if you add an adsense box to a page like that - 10-15% seems about right

Marketing Guy




msg:1382869
 4:32 pm on Jul 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

NO NUKES! NO NUKES!

Um...sorry wrong thread....;)

Like most of you i tested a few clicks on my site when I added the ads, but havent touched them since.

Im pretty lazy about checking up on who advertises and have some faith that Google can churn out relevant ads.

But, theres something about potentially being slapped on the wrists for clicking on a link on my own damn site that really gets my back up.

Not that im complaining about the income - it's better than what ive tried before. But we are collectly giving Google advertising and to some extent endorsements on sites and pages that would otherwise have none. Not a bad deal for Google at all. ;)

Scott

WebWalla




msg:1382870
 6:21 pm on Jul 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

mayor brings up an interesting point in message #21. What's to stop a competitor viewing your source, copying your javascript code and then creating a free geocities page, for example, with all sorts of automated clicks, popups, etc. etc. to get you chucked out?

europeforvisitors




msg:1382871
 7:04 pm on Jul 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

What's to stop a competitor viewing your source, copying your javascript code and then creating a free geocities page, for example, with all sorts of automated clicks, popups, etc. etc. to get you chucked out?

I don't think information sites have the same level of cutthroat competition that e-commerce and affiliate sites do. I also think that, in most cases, such amateurish shenanigans would be fairly transparent. Google's "AdSense cops" are probably smart enough to realize that the publisher of an information site that's making money from AdSense won't waste his time creating a junk advertising page on GeoCities that nobody visits.

daunk




msg:1382872
 11:59 am on Jul 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I hate to be a pessimist, and I'll have no part of fraudulant clicks, but I don't see how Google can keep fraud from wrecking this fine program.
I'm not only concerned about the crooks who would click on their own ads, but about the crooks who would try to cause a world of hurt for their competitors by repeatidly clicking on their ads just to get them in trouble.

I can see a competitor running a search on their own keywords in Google, going through the serps above them, and clicking on every Adsense ad they see hoping to get their high-ranking competitors in trouble and banned from Google. And I'm sure competitors can get a lot more creative than this simple illustration

I quoted this because it seems no one could come up with an answer which satisfied me, I may be a newbie with adsense (only 12 hours :*) ) But what mayor said is one of my great fears. This program really seems to be "too good to be true", I of course would never click on the advertisers links unless I myself was interested in the advert -even then I may type URL into my webrowser as I don't want to do anything to upset google ATM when it seems so good - its unethical, but I fear that a lot of unscrupulous people may.

This will hurt the rest of us and not just that but if competitors start spamming your site by giving your adsense lots of clicks from the same IP - surely google will think - aha nailed a cheater! and shut down your site - which IMO is the only option for them, as they can never be sure if you were cheating or not and better safe than sorry -they can't let 1 ruin it for the rest etc...

So this brings into question websites losing their ADsense through no fault of their own?

I hope google has (another) cunning plan up their sleave :) If adsense continues the way it is at the moment (which sadly I can't see) it will truly be the best on the market and google will become an extremely profitable company - like it wasn't already! But from what I see - maybe I am a cynic but at the current rate it is unsustainable- I have only had a few clicks in 12 hours but the rates seems very generous (talking cents not dollars) but it is far more kind than any other program I have been on.

IMO the adsense ads are the most professional ones you can ever get, they are so much better than all other banners I have seen. Long live google!

europeforvisitors




msg:1382873
 2:45 pm on Jul 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

This will hurt the rest of us and not just that but if competitors start spamming your site by giving your adsense lots of clicks from the same IP - surely google will think - aha nailed a cheater! and shut down your site -

The term "competitors" has a different meaning with information/content sites than it does with affiliate or e-commerce sites, and smart publishers learn to work with each other instead of wasting time on childish games of sabotage. For example, I target the same audience that most European travel-planning sites do, and there's also overlap between some of my subcategories (Spain, cruising, etc.) and other sites. Yet I link to many other sites, and they link to mine. And I certainly wouldn't gain anything by trying to sabotage their AdSense revenues. To put it another way, we aren't really competitors; we're colleagues, and what's good for any of us is likely to be good for all of us.

I'd strongly urge AdSense participants to refrain from dirty tricks, because such behavior will simply encourage Google to tighten its admission standards--especially in categories where fraud and other types of misbehavior become a problem.

daunk




msg:1382874
 2:50 pm on Jul 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thats a good point EFV, but how about trolls and people just out to cause a nuisance - say someone you barred from your site or who was disgruntled at something. I'm not saying it should happen but the truth is it does :(

peewhy




msg:1382875
 2:54 pm on Jul 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'd strongly urge AdSense participants to refrain from dirty tricks, because such behavior will simply encourage Google to tighten its admission standards--especially in categories where fraud and other types of misbehavior become a problem.

Sadly the dirty tricks brigade won't see it that way, despite your logic.

europeforvisitors




msg:1382876
 4:21 pm on Jul 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Sadly the dirty tricks brigade won't see it that way, despite your logic.

Well, the "dirty tricks brigade" isn't likely to include any serious publishers of quality sites. The best defense against amateurs' dirty tricks is to deliver quality content on a site that looks professional. That way, you're more likely to pass the "smell test" if Google's anti-fraud sguad comes sniffing around.

Having a professional-looking site with quality content will also pay off if Google raises the program's editorial standards or makes other changes to reassure advertisers who don't want to run AdWords on content sites of questionable quality.

peewhy




msg:1382877
 4:36 pm on Jul 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

...hopefully - the "dirty tricks brigade" isn't likely to include any serious publishers of quality sites.

europeforvisitors




msg:1382878
 7:15 pm on Jul 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

...hopefully - the "dirty tricks brigade" isn't likely to include any serious publishers of quality sites.

Serious publishers of high-quality sites don't have time to play juvenile games. They're too busy working on their content. :-)

peewhy




msg:1382879
 9:25 am on Jul 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

... I like that theory:)

ct2000




msg:1382880
 11:32 am on Jul 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Serious publishers of high-quality sites don't have time to play juvenile games. They're too busy working on their content. :-)

well said!

peewhy




msg:1382881
 6:06 am on Jul 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think that ultimately there are all types out there, and there's no particular mould for a fraudster, they can be super serious or juvenile idiots, if they are going to commit fraud, they are gonna do it.

The vast majority of us are decent honest people but scum exists in all areas, the internet being a growth industry attracts the scum.

valortrade




msg:1382882
 2:03 pm on Jul 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

I only could keep myself away from "those dirty games". It is true there would always have different types of "scummers" there.

In Adsense court, I trust Google would act as a good "cop & judge".

Marketing Guy




msg:1382883
 2:31 pm on Jul 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

Surely for Google to take any action, any dirty tricks campaign would have to be sustained over a fair period of time.

And given we're talking about information sites, there will be very few individuals / companies with the motivation for a sustained dirty tricks campaign if they wont profit from it.

Example: Business 1 may resort to dirty tricks played on Business 2 because the custom Business 2 loses will be caught by Business 1.

But Information site 1 will not gain anything by getting Information site 2 chucked from Adsense.

The only situation where it could be a problem is if an individual with a grudge against a site takes to dirty tricks.

But, they will usually lose interest and it would be easy enough for the big G to discount clicks from that IP. Granted they could change IP regularly, but how long can an individual maintain such an operation on the basis of a grudge?

Also, I agree with Duank - Adsense does seem "too good to be true". But I suppose the income we get is only a portion of what advertisers pay, so in theory it could be substantiated indefinitely.

My concern is that at any point Google can subtly reduce the amount paid without anyone really noticing (you initially put it down to the season or your industry or visitor demographical change, etc, etc then it becomes the norm, then it drops again....).

Scott

Eltiti




msg:1382884
 2:42 pm on Jul 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the comments made by europeforvisitors make a *lot* of sense.

If your site looks professional and "clean" (from Google's POV, that may also mean: no black-hat SEO "tricks"!), you should be much more likely to get at least the benefit of the doubt.

After all, if you are *capable* of creating high-quality content that is useful to your visitors, you have a skill that, eh, 90% of all webmasters don't possess --so why would you endanger your long-term success by "cheating"?

On a related note, I think GG's guidelines could be a bit more explicit in certain regards.

Most of us seem to agree that clicking on your own links is "not done" (with the occasional embarrassed "I did it once, to test, just after I added the code"...); yet I have seen *no* explicit statement by GG that this is not allowed.

Compare this with the terms and conditions of certain CPC networks that threaten to kick you out if you as much as *look* at their ads ;) and you can see the potential for confusion!

cornwall




msg:1382885
 2:54 pm on Jul 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>yet I have seen *no* explicit statement by GG that this is not allowed<<

If you read "Google AdSenseTM Standard Terms and Conditions" its pretty tightly tied down.

"
Prohibited Uses. You shall not, and shall not authorize or encourage any third party to: (i) generate fraudulent impressions of or fraudulent clicks on any Ad(s), including but not limited to through the use of robots or other automated query tools and/or computer generated search requests, and/or the fraudulent use of other search engine optimization services and/or software...
...Violation of any of the foregoing may result in immediate termination of this Agreement, and may subject You to state and federal penalties and other legal consequences.
"

Eltiti




msg:1382886
 4:01 pm on Jul 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

cornwall,

I *have*, of course, read the T & C, but I *don't* think that they are sufficiently explicit about this matter.

What are "fraudulent clicks"? Well, clicks generated through the use of robots are mentioned explicitly; but what about (manual) clicks by the webmaster of the site displaying the ads?

The T & C of another CPC network contain a similar passage about bots, scripts, etc., but they also say: "Clicking your own links to generate money is strictly forbidden."

Adding a clause like that would, IMHO, prevent some confusion!

valortrade




msg:1382887
 4:23 pm on Jul 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think that the definition of "fraudulent clicks" is pretty clear and it should not be any problem.

However, from my personal view, the "fraudulent impressions" is a grey area and it would be a little tough for publisher. As the admin of the website, we do need monitor our site's status from time to time. I think it would be unavoidable that we would unintentionally create some "fraudulent impressions". The good thing is that it should be a tiny part of the whole impressions and it would just have little impact on CTR. I THINK IT WOULD BE DURABLE.

Zygoot




msg:1382888
 6:08 pm on Jul 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have my doubts, how the hell can Google see if a webmaster is making fraudulent clicks?

Here are a few examples :

* A webmaster wants to check the advertised links, to see what their content is, so he will be able to ban the links, so his visitors will not get links to 'evil' sites which for example sell stuff way too much overpriced.

* Someone does not likes a site with Adsense ads on it, and makes on purpose a LOT of fraudulent clicks every day. How will google check this?

* A brother or sister or a friend is browsing on the website on the same pc as the webmaster always does, and finds an interesting ad. He clicks on it, how will google see if this is fraudulent or not?

peewhy




msg:1382889
 6:15 pm on Jul 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

Welcome to webmasterworld zygoot!

I think you are looking at 'management' as opposed to 'fraudulent'. I would imagine that Google would in the near future, put in place some tool so that these issues can be managed.

chiyo




msg:1382890
 6:19 pm on Jul 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>* A webmaster wants to check the advertised links, to see what their content is, so he will be able to ban the links, so his visitors will not get links to 'evil' sites which for example sell stuff way too much overpriced. <<

1. Mouse over the link and copy the link.

2. paste it into the address bar, just leaving the actual url and removing your id and other info

3. click go!

It may take a bit longer but you owe it to the advertiser and if you want to check links you should be willing to go to the extra effort to make sure the advertiser isnt paying for you to "review" their link.

This 255 message thread spans 9 pages: < < 255 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 > >
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