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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

 

mosley700




msg:1382920
 4:54 am on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>Did Google actually suggest that YOU were the person committing fraud, or that your account might have fraudulent clicks? To me, this is an important distinction. I bet a person could go to some publishers web site and click on a link a whole bunch of times. Is that the publisher's fault?

I put Google Adsense on 5 of my websites, for about 20 days. All was well for a while, not a real impressive CTR, but it did make $1,500.

Then I got an email saying, "Thank you for your interest in Google Adsense, Thank you for your interest in Google AdSense. Our program specialists
have reviewed your application. Based on our Terms and Conditions we are unable to accept you..."

I replied to Google, nothing. I wrote again, nothing. Finally I got an email saying that they had detected fraudulent click activity and emailed me asking me to take measures to prevent fraudulent click activity. I never got the email and seriously doubt they ever sent it; if if they had, what can I do to stop people from clicking on my ads?

Furthermore, I seriously doubt they did detect fraudulent click activity. Nobody has the time or patience to click on ads like that.

Anyway, Google did succeed in ripping me off to the tune of $1,500, but that's life. You expect it from most affiliate networks, and Google is no different.

I seriously think Google needs to mature in this area. Overture has known for ages that people will click on their competitor's ads so they just don't count those clicks. Google would do good to follow suit.

eraldemukian




msg:1382921
 5:41 am on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

my experience with AdSense:

got accepted within 36 minutes
day5: got an email claiming there were fraudulent clicks
I sent emails, somebody looked at 2 pages
(referrer: [trakken.corp.google.com...] ...)
got an email they would monitor ...

day10: got an email that my account is terminated due to fraudulent clicks.
(same referrer that day, about 5 page views from that IP)

tried to ask in 5(!) emails what exactly the cause was for the termination.
Google did not give any details beyond 'fraudulent activity'

Google said they would reimburse the advertisers for my clicks.
They did actually serve ads (real ones, no PSA) after the termination of my account.

1.3 Million Impressions, 34000 clicks, $2506,- US
down the drain. Oh well.

mayor




msg:1382922
 5:44 am on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>Overture has known for ages that people will click on their competitor's ads so they just don't count those clicks. Google would do good to follow suit.

AdSense fraud is different though. Fraud clicks on your competitor's Overture ads (or Google AdWords ads) runs up your competitor's bill. Fraud clicks on your competitor's AdSense ads gets them in hot water with Google, and maybe booted from the program.

And who knows ... if you can get a Google editor to manually look at your competitor's site by using fraud clicks, maybe you can get their spammy site banned from the Google search engine as well, along with all the other sites they've installed the AdSense code on.

As soon as webmasters come on this forum whining about getting booted from the AdSense program as a result of fraudulant clicks, the same bunch that has been writing all those Google spam reports are going to be clicking away on their competitor's AdSense links until their index fingers go numb.

I hope all the above doesn't happen, but the early whining sounds already appearing here are a concern.

danny




msg:1382923
 6:26 am on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

mayor, I agree with you that "over-detection" of fraud, and third-party attempts to get publishers in trouble, are likely to be a bigger problem that fraud itself. But I suspect a lot of people using AdSense run informational sites which don't have obvious "competitors".

I don't have the foggiest idea who my "competitors" are, for example. The New York Times and the Boston Globe, perhaps, but I really can't see that either of them would care one bit whether I make a few hundred dollars a month from AdSense - heck, I doubt they even care about SERPs.

peewhy




msg:1382924
 6:35 am on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

I cannot believe for one minute that Google is not working on their own tool to counter fraud.

Equally, I'm not sure why they spend time detecting and sending out messages to those who 'test' links. - Why not just totally ignore them, remove them from the equation or add a charge for the 'test'?

Visit Thailand




msg:1382925
 6:40 am on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

peewhy - how would they know who is testing and not? Most people are on dial up isp's that change the ip every log in.

I have not clicked on one single ad on our site as I do not want to run into problems even though some of the ads look interesting I can still get to that site by manually inserting the url in the browser. Perhaps a little over the top but still.

peewhy




msg:1382926
 6:57 am on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

VT you are doing exactly the right thing ... don't play with the buttons:)

I'm referring to the posts that have received emails from Google saying "it has come to our attention that a number of clicks were generated from you ...bla bla bla" ( I don't know exactly what the message is but may be other words with the same effect.

They have been accused of 'fraudulant clicks' and they are saying 'it wasn't me'.

You don't need to 'test' a link by clicking it, but if you must, who does Google not simply ignore or indeed send out a charge for the 'test'.

mayor




msg:1382927
 7:48 am on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

danny, if AdSense provides you a way to make money on your information site, you will soon see other information sites springing up and competing for your information visitors. Some of those startups would love to make a few hundred dollars too, and may see you standing in their way.

Visit Thailand




msg:1382928
 8:29 am on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Another thread got me thinking but would a link checker like Xenu create fraudulent clicks or clicks of any nature?

peewhy




msg:1382929
 8:34 am on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm pretty sure Google frown upon Xenu.

Eltiti




msg:1382930
 8:44 am on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

I use an HTML validator that also checks link validity, and had asked Google if this could cause problems.

Their answer was:

In regards to the HTML validator, it is possible that an impression is generated if the validator makes a call to the JavaScript.

So while they say nothing about clicks (hard to see why the validator would generate clicks, unless it actually executed the JavaScript!), they did confirm that it may generate impressions.

They did not explicitly say that such "validator-impressions" would be frowned upon, but given their emphasis on "robot-generated" clicks and impressions as a source of fraud, it may be best to comment out the line that calls up the code from Google, using <!--script ...>...</script-->

At least, that's what I do now!

chiyo




msg:1382931
 8:51 am on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Good points. I think most validators and link checkers and robots in general allow you to configure the behaviour by ignoring certain URL patterns (external links, js, domain names, strings in domain etc). I use Xenu but check from the hard disk, so it only sees the raw google script, not the generated links. But this is something to be careful of.

Don't other ad servers and affiliates have this problem which pay per click or impression? How do they solve it?

mosley700




msg:1382932
 5:29 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>AdSense fraud is different though. Fraud clicks on your competitor's Overture ads (or Google AdWords ads) runs up your competitor's bill. Fraud clicks on your competitor's AdSense ads gets them in hot water with Google, and maybe booted from the program.

A friend runs his own pay-per-click program for home improvement sites. Pay out is $0.25 per click through. This script he has tracks each IP of the clicker - if the same IP clicks more than one time within a 30 day period, that click is ignored. The affiliate is not credited, and the advertiser is not billed. This friend wrote the script in one week, by himself.

If this guy can figure it out, why can't Google? I'm on high speed cable and have a static IP. It never changes. I clicked on one ad the entire time it was running, so they know it was not me clicking. So, again, if this guy can figure it out, why can't Google?

loanuniverse




msg:1382933
 5:52 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

if the same IP clicks more than one time within a 30 day period, that click is ignored. The affiliate is not credited, and the advertiser is not billed. This friend wrote the script in one week, by himself.
What makes you think they don't do this already? IP logging is an established method of keeping track of fraud. The difference might be that instead of auditing your account, they might have certain thresholds that start a quality control process such as this hypothetical one:

1) Issue a flag.
2) Editor manual reviews site.
3) If warranted a warning is issued.
4) If another flag is issued you might get booted automatically or another review is made.

mosley700




msg:1382934
 6:48 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>What makes you think they don't do this already?

When they are robbing webmasters of thousands of dollars, it is more than obvious they are not ignoring the nuisance clicks.

Issue a warning? Hello? Have you read the thread? What are webmasters syupposed to do about some twit clicking on their ads? It is immature to think that I can somehow control who is clicking on the ads served by Google.

If I go to AOL, and click on every Adwords ad I see, will Google boot AOL? Highly unlikely. Google is using website owners because it can. Google knows web site owners have no way to stop people from clicking on ads that they are serving, and simply refuses to implement a grown-up policy to deal with it.

Poweroid




msg:1382935
 6:51 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

mosley700, I agree with you 100%.

I had an email from Google saying that they detected fraudulent clicks on my site. It could well have been a competitor. But it's neither in a publisher's interest, nor Google's, if they ban publishers for activities of their competitors.

Hopefully, they'll have solved this soon and just ignore more than one click from an IP.

Loanuniverse, with respect, I don't see the need for any other threshold. If they are not counting clicks they are not counting clicks...they don't lose, the advertise doesn't lose. Why boot the publisher off? In fact this is the best way to stop fraudulent click activity - ignore it. The scum can then sit at a PC all day clicking on their competitor's site and will ultimately give up.

Clark




msg:1382936
 6:58 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yeah, exactly. If they can detect fraudulent activity, they should just ignore it. Naturally if publishers are seriously guilty of trying to fraud the hell out of the system, sure, kick them out, but some things should be ignored rather than kicking people out at the drop of a hat (after allowing the ads to show for some time!)

peewhy




msg:1382937
 7:05 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

This was my point
Equally, I'm not sure why they spend time detecting and sending out messages to those who 'test' links. - Why not just totally ignore them, remove them from the equation or add a charge for the 'test'?


loanuniverse




msg:1382938
 7:09 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Loanuniverse, with respect, I don't see the need for any other threshold. If they are not counting clicks they are not counting clicks...they don't lose, the advertise doesn't lose. Why boot the publisher off? In fact this is the best way to stop fraudulent click activity - ignore it. The scum can then sit at a PC all day clicking on their competitor's site and will ultimately give up.
I think is mostly as a deterrent. Even the best of anti-fraud systems will let some fraud through. However, knowing that you could lose the whole relationship over fraud is useful at combating fraud even before it starts. While, I don’t think that Google or the top ad-networks are purposely out to commit fraud on publishers, I can see how some innocent people might get affected by anti-fraud enforcement. I agree with you guys that it would work best if clicks from an ip were ignored after going over a certain number in a certain period of time. Even with ip addresses being assigned dynamically, there should be a way to implement this.

I also think that if your account was suspended by no fault of your own, and they keep on ignoring your emails, you should send them a letter {certified} asking for some explanation and making your case. Although the terms and conditions are slanted to Google’s benefit {as they should be when you are the one writing them}, I think that this is a company that likes to do the right thing. In fact, most people are really honest when it comes down to it.

peewhy




msg:1382939
 7:17 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

We see this as quite a major issue but I wonder what the real percentage is.

mosley700




msg:1382940
 7:18 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>I think is mostly as a deterrent.

As a deterrent to what? That's like fining a homeowner as a deterrent to being robbed. It's like fining a restaurant patron for getting food poisoning. I don't see even a shed of logic in that statement.

Poweroid




msg:1382941
 7:21 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> most people are really honest when it comes down to it

The scary bit though is one publisher's posting here that he built up over $2000 and Google refused to pay him because the clicks were "fraudulent". (Or maybe they will pay him eventually)

>> Even the best of anti-fraud systems will let some fraud through

Yes, if I visited a friend's house and he was online I could take that opportunity to make one click on my site. That will earn me a grand total of about $0.21. Not worth the effort, and not the type of fraud Google - or anyone - will bother with too much. It's the bigger frauds that matter. And they should rightly protect against it.

But banning publishers for something they haven't done just can't be right.

Poweroid




msg:1382942
 7:23 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> homeowner as a deterrent to being robbed

nice analogy :-)

europeforvisitors




msg:1382943
 7:25 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

if AdSense provides you a way to make money on your information site, you will soon see other information sites springing up and competing for your information visitors. Some of those startups would love to make a few hundred dollars too, and may see you standing in their way.

As I wrote in another thread, the best defense against juvenile games of sabotage is to have a clean, comprehensive, high-quality site. If your site looks professional, you're more likely to get the benefit of the doubt from Google's fraud squad. If your site is an authoritative resource or an award-winning site in its category, so much the better.

By focusing on building a quality site while members of the "dirty tricks brigade" waste time on their games, you'll enjoy other benefits such as more inbound links, higher PageRank, greater traffic, and more revenue from AdSense and affiliate programs.

BTW, the more revenue you earn, the less impact fraudulent clicks (unless they're on a massive scale) will have on your earnings. Google's fraud squad are almost certainly smart enough to realize that a publisher earning $1,000, $2,000, or $5,000 a month legitimately isn't going to risk killing the golden goose by racking up 50 or 100 or 500 very obvious fraudulent clicks every day.

peewhy




msg:1382944
 7:27 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Does anyone know if Google have substantiated any claims relating to these fraudulant clicks?

loanuniverse




msg:1382945
 7:31 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>I think is mostly as a deterrent.
As a deterrent to what? That's like fining a homeowner as a deterrent to being robbed. It's like fining a restaurant patron for getting food poisoning. I don't see even a shed of logic in that statement.

I know you are upset and you have the right to be. But, wouldn't someone thinking of doing fraud reading your situation say:
"That guy is innocent and didn't do anything, those people at google must have some kick*** fraud detection, I am not even going to try or they will even catch me if I click twice" It will act as a deterrent since it is clear that false positives are created. Therefore, you would like to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in your site.

I also know that this is the last thing that you want to hear, if I were in your position, I would be upset too. After all, not only is your earned money taken away, but they are implying you are a cheat. Please take into consideration that I completely emphatize with your situation and I hope you get an acceptable resolution.

peewhy




msg:1382946
 7:38 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Sorry to keep interupting you guys :)
Just a couple of related points, we see this as quite a major issue but I wonder what the real percentage is. Has Google ever published the numbers relating to this specific fraud?

Also does anyone know if Google have substantiated any claims relating to these fraudulant clicks - such as once they have fired of their "it has come to our attention ..." - do they show the actual evidence?

Poweroid




msg:1382947
 7:44 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

peewhy, it doesn't seem that way. Can't find any threads here about substantiated claims. I doubt Google would publish fraud numbers/stats.

mosley700, may I add my best wishes that the matter is resolved and you get re-instated with full back payment.

I'm concerned about my earnings now and how safe that money is. Oh well, gotta wait and see.

mosley700




msg:1382948
 7:52 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

This isn't only bad for publishers, but advertisers as well. I used Google Adwords for a while, but won't be using it any more; and not just because I'm P.O.ed at Google.

In my forum, one guy PM'ed me and asked about this. He has a 42% CTR, all of it from his friends. If Google isn't smart enough to flag a 42% CTR, there is no way I'm going to trust their "fraud detection". My CTR has way down there - less than 2%.

bakedjake




msg:1382949
 7:58 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

When you set up a merchant account with the merchant service we use for our sites' credit card processing, they have a test mode that will allow you to run credit cards through to check if they are valid, but will not charge them. The whole system acts as if it is charging, with proper response codes and everything, but doesn't charge the card. When you're ready to go, you flip one switch.

Perhaps AdSense should set up something similar - a switch in the AdSense admin than can be set for "test mode", where no one receives credit or gets charged for clicks, but serves ads just like it would in "live mode".

It would help things greatly, I suspect.

europeforvisitors




msg:1382950
 9:25 pm on Jul 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

mosley700 wrote:

As a deterrent to what?

As a deterrent to fraud, what else?

If Google detects a pattern of fraudulent clicks, booting the offender will send a message that fraudulent clicking isn't tolerated. This will make other publishers think twice before trying to cheat advertisers.

Google could simply ignore clicks that it suspected were fraudulent, but that would send the wrong message: i.e., that there's no risk in stealing from advertisers. To use an analogy, it would be like not prosecuting shoplifters or homeowners who file phony insurance claims. If there's no risk of punishment, there's no incentive for wannabe criminals to behave themselves.

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