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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

 

NorthernStudio




msg:1382980
 6:21 pm on Jul 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

It has come to our attention that fraudulent impressions or clicks have been generated on the ads on your site(s)...

What about the "fraudulent impressions" in the email? What's that all about?

Wayne

linkshark




msg:1382981
 6:27 pm on Jul 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

I wonder if anyone has actually received a check from Adsense (especially one for over $600)

</wonder>

Poweroid




msg:1382982
 6:44 pm on Jul 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

fraudulent impressions/fraudulent clicks/ fraudulent activity ....

I think we are quibbling over semantics.

The issue still is that many webmasters here have had that email, most of them claim that they're not responsible - I know that I am not, Google has kicked more than one of them off off the program, nobody has ever had any explanation or proof provided, nobody has been able to discuss it with Google and/or present their case, and based purely on a suspicion - or an automated system flag - some of them have lost hundreds and some have lost thousands of dollars.

Commission King




msg:1382983
 6:43 am on Jul 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Luckily I've not yet been bitten by the Google Nonsense aka Fraudulent click bug yet, but know many quality and trustworthy webmasters who have. Seems like Google's Fraud Algorythm is in need of a major tune-up and I'm sure there are alot of embarrased people at Google (or atleast there ought to be). Kind of sad when a site like Google, that supposedly has some of the best programers in the world, implements a fraud detection system that a fifth grader could write. Embarrassment on Google's part, I'm sure. Will they make changes ASAP? I'm sure that will happen too... The chaos Google created could have been avoided, but I'm sure someone had a implementation goal to meet, so we become victims of corporate america. It's kind of funny (unless your one of good webmasters who has been nuked for no good reason).
Will Google reimburse the good webmasters they nuked for no reason? They should as it would be the morally corect thing to do. But, Does a internet company such as google, have morals, or do they check them at the door when they go to work? Time will tell....

europeforvisitors




msg:1382984
 5:08 pm on Jul 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Luckily I've not yet been bitten by the Google Nonsense aka Fraudulent click bug yet, but know many quality and trustworthy webmasters who have.

How many is "many"? Just curious.

The chaos Google created could have been avoided...

What chaos?

Will Google reimburse the good webmasters they nuked for no reason? They should as it would be the morally corect thing to do.

That's true if the publishers were nuked for no good reason.

It's important to remember that Google is in the unenviable position of having to serve both advertisers and publishers. So Google is a bit like a judge or jury in a civil case: it can't just assume that a publisher is innocent until proven guilty, because that would be a disservice to advertisers. Instead, Google must look at the preponderance of evidence (i.e., the overall picture) and make an educated judgment.

Now, if Google has detected a fraudulent clicking pattern on a publisher's Web site, there are two possible reasons: (1) The publisher is trying to rip off advertisers, or (2) Someone else is clicking on the ads to make the publisher look bad. Which is it? This is where judgment comes into play. If the site looks like a high-quality, comprehensive, useful information site, the publisher is more likely to get the benefit of the doubt. If the site looks amateurish or appears to have been created solely to make money, Google may be more skeptical and less forgiving.

IMHO, the best defense against a fraud rap is not only to be innocent, but also to have a quality content site that adds value to the AdSense network and to the Web. If your site looks marginal, you're just making it easy for Google to assume the worst when its security software detects fraud.

europeforvisitors




msg:1382985
 5:59 pm on Jul 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

More thoughts on fraud:

1) Fraud may lead to cancellation of an account even if the publisher is innocent. If a site's ads are constantly hit with fraudulent clicks from competitors, enemies, angry ex-spouses, or the guy down the block who resents the publisher's barking dog, advertisers are getting cheated--and Google may feel (with good reason) that the site isn't an asset to the network.

2) When fraudulent clicks are detected, Google is entitled to withhold payment for those clicks--regardless of who did the clicking.

3) Google needs to exercise good judgment when deciding whether to withhold accrued revenues from a publisher whose account is cancelled. In other words:

- If Google believes that the publisher was guilty of fraud, it may be justified in withholding all payment as a message to other publishers who steal.

- If Google believes (or is willing to acknowledge the possibility) that the fraudulent clicks were generated by a competitor, enemy, or other third party, it should pay the cancelled publisher for clicks that were earned legitimately.

richmondsteve




msg:1382986
 9:18 pm on Jul 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Now, if Google has detected a fraudulent clicking pattern on a publisher's Web site, there are two possible reasons: (1) The publisher is trying to rip off advertisers, or (2) Someone else is clicking on the ads to make the publisher look bad. Which is it?

Or trying to incur charges for the advertiser - just as likely an option as it is on a search engine results page with sponsored listings.

europeforvisitors




msg:1382987
 12:18 am on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Or trying to incur charges for the advertiser - just as likely an option as it is on a search engine results page with sponsored listings.

Good point. I've seen a few complaints about that on the various PPC forums, including the AdWords forum. (In fact, such fraud more likely to happen on a SERP than on a content site, simply because the miscreant is unlikely to know which sites--and which pages on those sites--are carrying the advertiser's "content ads.")

Sanenet




msg:1382988
 2:12 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thought... If Google detects "fraudulent" clicks, and refuses to pay up, then their argument for not paying is based on the fact that the clickthroughs were of no valid use to the advertiser.

So - do they reimburse the advertiser for the money they spent on the clickthroughs, or do they just bank the check? In the latter case, they're just (if not more) in the ethical - and legal? - wrong as the publisher who clicked on his own links!

europeforvisitors




msg:1382989
 2:22 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

So - do they reimburse the advertiser for the money they spent on the clickthroughs, or do they just bank the check? In the latter case, they're just (if not more) in the ethical - and legal? - wrong as the publisher who clicked on his own links!

It's highly unlikely that they'd just bank the money. Never mind the fact that it would be unethical--it would also be stupid, since the network's success depends on the confidence of advertisers. (And don't think they wouldn't get caught if they just banked the money--advertisers are going to notice if their accounts are drained at record speed and their conversion rates fall through the floor!)

papamaku




msg:1382990
 3:34 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Wow, I thought this thread died a long time ago, just check back and its now huge!

Anyway, update with me - after getting that first unfounded accusing/threatening email on 1st July (after only being live a couple of days) then I got another email on 15ht July saying "Previously, we informed you that publishers may not generate fraudulent impressions or clicks on any ads and that your account was in violation of the Google AdSense Terms and Conditions" and "If we find your account to be in violation a third time, your account will be permanently disabled.".

Yeah thanks! I hadn't made a single click since those first woeful test ones.

But since then I haven't heard a thing, even though my average CTR is 12.4% (with the lowest day - 9.0% and highest day - 19.5%)

So i'm just waiting for that third strike to get me out, which'll probably come just as I'm due some money ;)

Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty"?

cornwall




msg:1382991
 4:20 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>my average CTR is 12.4% (with the lowest day - 9.0% and highest day - 19.5%)

Assuming it is your Phil. travel site, then that is high for CTR from such a site.

It is bound to make them investigate. I have no idea what the spread in CTR is for travel sites, but I suspect 95% are in the range 1% to 6%.

If you have way over that, they probably assume you are guilty until proven innocent :(

europeforvisitors




msg:1382992
 6:04 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty"?

Google isn't a criminal court (or any kind of court), so the U.S. Constitution's "presumption of innocence" doesn't apply.

In fact, the question of innocence or guilt may not even come into play. If your site generates a large number of fraudulent clicks for any reason, Google may cancel your account simply because those clicks hurt advertisers--and because monitoring your site for repeated violations (regardless of who's causing those violations) makes your site unprofitable for Google.

IMHO, the best way to defend yourself against having your account cancelled is to have a large, comprehensive, high-quality site that generates significant revenues from many different advertisers on many different pages. That way, Google may think twice before cancelling your account if somebody who's got it in for Widgetco (or who wants to run Widgetco's account dry) starts clicking madly on your site's Widgetco ads. The more Google stands to lose from cancelling your account, the less your risk of being given the heave-ho because of an isolated incident that isn't your fault.

PolishGuy




msg:1382993
 6:38 pm on Jul 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

> I suspect 95% are in the range 1% to 6%.

I have a feeling that this range is typical for all sites. If you get 9% or more then there is suspicion that you have fraudulant clicks....

richmondsteve




msg:1382994
 3:15 pm on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

...such fraud more likely to happen on a SERP than on a content site, simply because the miscreant is unlikely to know which sites--and which pages on those sites--are carrying the advertiser's "content ads.")

Right. I shouldn't have said "as likely". If someone's motive is to incur costs for the advertiser it's definitely easier to do so through a Google search directly.

NorthernStudio




msg:1382995
 3:59 pm on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

publishers may not generate fraudulent impressions or clicks on any ads

papamaku:

I asked this earlier in this thread without much response: What are fradulent "impressions" and are they indeed different than fradulent "clicks?" So far in this thread, I recall only seeing mentions of "clicks."

Poweroid said it is just semantics but it is clear to me that impressions and clicks are not the same thing. Could there be something about your site and the way impressions are generated or displayed that Google doesn't like? Something that doesn't involve clicking?

Wayne

valortrade




msg:1382996
 4:09 pm on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I asked this earlier in this thread without much response: What are fradulent "impressions" and are they indeed different than fradulent "clicks?" So far in this thread, I recall only seeing mentions of "clicks."

I did post a related message before. I personally thought "fradulent impressions" is a "grey" area and it would be a little hard to discussed itself without covering "fraudulent click". Every publisher could create some unintended "fradulent impressions" everyday.

Right now, Google would be focusing on "fradulent clicks".

novice




msg:1382997
 4:13 pm on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

NorthernStudio

Maybe Google is planning on eliminating sites in the future that do not produce enough impressions, so they do not want you to repeatedly go to your site to give false impressions. Or they may think that someone may be producing false impressions to keep their CTR down so it doesn't alert any of their fraud flags. Just my opinion

europeforvisitors




msg:1382998
 4:24 pm on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

novice wrote:

Maybe Google is planning on eliminating sites in the future that do not produce enough impressions, so they do not want you to repeatedly go to your site to give false impressions. Or they may think that someone may be producing false impressions to keep their CTR down so it doesn't alert any of their fraud flags.

Hey, that's pretty clever thinking. I've been wondering why anyone would generate "fraudulent impressions," and I think you've supplied two good reasons.

Poweroid




msg:1382999
 5:04 pm on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

novice, well spotted!

NorthernStudio, clicks are of course distinct from impressions. The fraudulent part is the one that causes concern. Goggle's interpretation of that word could be substantially different from yours or mine. It would be very easy to generate "fraudulent impressions". I dont' want to be scared to just browse through my own site.

In fact, the question of innocence or guilt may not even come into play. If your site generates a large number of fraudulent clicks for any reason, Google may cancel your account simply because those clicks hurt advertisers--and because monitoring your site for repeated violations (regardless of who's causing those violations) makes your site unprofitable for Google

OK, it's their program and that could well be the reasoning. I can't see that lasting too long though. Rewarding mailicious activity isn't a good long term game plan. I still believe that the way to go is to discount clicks where evidence (and internal intelligence) suggests there's foulplay.

I agree that at the moment they are probably concentrating on fraudulent clicks rather than fraudulent impressions.

cornwall




msg:1383000
 5:11 pm on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> Or they may think that someone may be producing false impressions to keep their CTR down so it doesn't alert any of their fraud flags

I was looking at this question yesterday, when I was faced with a choice on a frames site...

...either put the tags on the static frame, or on the changing frame. Assuming the punter clicks at the same rate (moot point) then one route will give 5 to 10 times the CTR of the other, as it will serve up the tags that much more often, for essentiall the same set of actions bt the punter.

Personally I dont see much future in keeping my (increasing) CTR down artificially, and (for the moment) will continue to put the tags on the most appropriate page

Jenstar




msg:1383001
 5:15 pm on Jul 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Great point novice. I also wondered why on earth anyone would get a warning for fraudulent impressions, and you just supplied the answer. I never thought of it from the point of view of keeping the CTR rate down.

This does raise an issue of those who do frequent their own sites, if your own personal visits to your site for legitimate reasons could flag yourself for fraudulent impressions. This would be one good reason for AdSense to introduce an "ingore this IP address" feature, so you don't have to worry about roaming your site and getting flagged for it.

shadow77




msg:1383002
 11:46 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just got an email today:

It has come to our attention that fraudulent impressions or clicks have
been generated on the ads on your site(s). We have therefore permanently
disabled your account, and you will no longer be able to participate in
the Google AdSense program.

It is against our program policies for website publishers to click on the
AdWords ads on their own website or to encourage others to do so; in
addition, website publishers, or a third party enlisted by the publisher,
may not generate fraudulent clicks on any ad(s) 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. These practices are in violation of the Google AdSense
Terms and Conditions, which you can view at:
https://www.google.com/adsense/terms .

Please understand that we consider deliberate attempts to violate our
policies and compromise the integrity of our program a serious matter.
Furthermore, your actions have cost Google and our advertisers both time
and money. Actions such as this are not tolerated by Google.

Sincerely,

The Google Team

Well that's great, one of my users kept clicking and now I'm banned. Why can't google just ignore clicks if someone clicks too much?

The Contractor




msg:1383003
 12:00 am on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well that's great, one of my users kept clicking and now I'm banned. Why can't google just ignore clicks if someone clicks too much?

I agree.
I heard someone mention this about AdWords - how each of the competitors click each-others ads until their competitor runs out of money for the day (I was shocked). I would think they would have a way to easily combat this?
A system will have to be put in place to protect both the publisher and the advertiser that would stop fraudulent clicks from being counted if the program will survive.

I'd hate to be the one caught clicking on a publishers ads.

Visit Thailand




msg:1383004
 12:00 am on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Sorry to hear that Shadow hope you get it sorted out.

Has anyone compared stats with all the people here that have been discontinued? I mean if you are discontinued then you no longer fall under the TOS I guess.

Add IN

Of course such research does not necessarily have to be done publicly but could be done privately.

RobbieD




msg:1383005
 12:06 am on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Pretty scary stuff for honest people that don't try to cheat!

Anyone here, after sending in an email to Google, been let back in?

I think that Google would have to produce IP data, how many times the ads were clicked etc to 100% close the case. Also, I'm sure there are legal issues if someone is just cut off and they have a big balance and Google will not pay without showing proof.

If you are a quality site with lots of traffic I can't see why Google would just cut you off. Why would webmasters that are earning good $$ from Google risk cheating the system?

Just some thoughts...

cramalot




msg:1383006
 12:58 am on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

The fraud impressions bothers me. It is my site I should be able to view anything I wish. Yes click rate may drop but the ammount of click should stay stable.

So I have decided that I will keep adsense ads from showing if I am on the site working on content and such. From time to time I will check in and see if the ads are looking alright.

This is very simple to do in PHP.

RobbieD




msg:1383007
 12:58 am on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

I still think they should have a system in place to not count certain IPs that are showing multiple clicks in a short time. I think they understand that some regular users will maybe go to a few ads a day or 5-10 ads in a month.

Any thoughts?

valortrade




msg:1383008
 1:14 am on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well that's great, one of my users kept clicking and now I'm banned. Why can't google just ignore clicks if someone clicks too much?

When did the "fradulent clicks" happen? Yesterday? Last week? If you would check your account on the daily basis, you probably could find those "suspicious clicks". Then, if you would initiate the "investigation process" with Adsense Support, maybe it could be a different story.

Just my thought.

By the way, do you have any idea "who" made those "clicks"? Your competitors? "Friendly Joke"?

Visit Thailand




msg:1383009
 1:50 am on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

I was just trying to think about this especially re the fraudulent impressions and I really do not understand.

For example say you have the Adsense code on this forum and this forum is your homepage as well, that would mean that every time you open your browser you get an impression then each page you visit, including log in, out, post posted, refreshing to thread etc are all impressions. Now if you are Bredd who owns the site I guess, and would probably be the one to apply for Adsense he may not be clicking on the ads rather he may well just be reading, moderating and posting.

Now how on earth could that be worked out as whether they are fraudulent impressions or not?

Of course regular sites may well be different as the set up is different but thinking about forums I cannot see how it could ever be calculated.

RobbieD




msg:1383010
 1:53 am on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

I will say it one more time...

Pretty scary stuff for honest people that don't try to cheat!

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