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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

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 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

 

valortrade

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 3:50 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree. No "fraudulent clicks", no needs for "fraudulent impressions". That is what I said right now Google's priority is to catch "fraudulent clickers".

Poweroid

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 3:54 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

kennebec,

We are in a very similar situation to yours except that our site generates a quarter of the impressions yours does and while most of the pages are content pages we do have some pages selling products (on which we don't have Adsense)

At least one webmaster who got that email was later reinstated. It's my belief that the flag is raised for anything that falls outside a pre-defined "norm". Google then checks it out and "let's you continue" in the program. Does leave a nasty taste though.

We would be intereseted in knowing how it pans out for you. And all the best :-)

novice

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 4:03 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Jenstar

That was my post in this thread, msg 168. I was answering a question from NorthernStudio as to why Google would be concerned with fraudulent expressions. Suppose first thing in the morning you check your stats and see 100 impressions and 30 clicks having a CTR of 30%.

Thinking that Google would think these are fraudulent clicks because of the high CTR you go to your site and refresh it 200 tomes. Now your CTR is down to 10% which is in the exceptable range. Forget whether or not the 30 clicks were fraudulent or not you could actually be in trouble with Google for the fraudulent impressions and not the 30 clicks.

I think that Google would have a problem with you falsifing your stats even though there were no fraudulent clicks.

I am using (you) refering to individual publishers and not Jenstar personally.

PolishGuy



 
Msg#: 69 posted 4:09 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

. Forget whether or not the 30 clicks were fraudulent or not you could actually be in trouble with Google for the fraudulent impressions and not the 30 clicks.

wait a minute! why Google should care at all about fraudulant impresssions? they are paying for clicks, not for impressions, so they should totally not be worried about it.

supposing 1000 people in large corporation reads my website from the same IP address, so should I worry that Google will kill me due to fraudulant impressions?

novice

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 4:21 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

PolishGuy

I agree with you that Google should only be concerned with fraudulent clicks and not impressions. I was merely pointing out a scenario why Google would include no fraudulent impressions in their TOS.

valortrade

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 4:24 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Suppose first thing in the morning you check your stats and see 100 impressions and 30 clicks having a CTR of 30%.

Thinking that Google would think these are fraudulent clicks because of the high CTR you go to your site and refresh it 200 tomes.

If I were you, I would check Adsense Support for those suspicious clicks instead of making those 200 impressions.

Even you would make up today, how would be tomorrow? In the end, you could burst out.

novice

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 4:33 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

valortrade

I am sure that Google would prefer the publiser contact them instead of making fraudulent impression to cover up something that you didn't do. In my opinion that is why fraudulent impressions are against Google's TOS

valortrade

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 4:42 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Of my theory and based on other publishers discussed, unless I would make the "fraudulent clicks", I would not make the those "fraudulent impressions".

If I would found suspicious "clicks" and CTR, I would initiate the investigation with Google.

Though we have heard some people got the "redflag" letter from Google, I have not heard somebody said they noticed the unusal CTR or clicks before they got the emails from Google. Everyone claimed "innocent". This just made me asking WHY WHY WHY?

chiyo

WebmasterWorld Senior Member chiyo us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 4:51 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

it would be mightily suspicious too as all 200 impressions would come from the same IP.

I really think that google is smarter than that, and rather than second-guessing the algo (I knows its a kneejerk reaction second nature with many!) and getting into even further cowdung it may just be more cost effective and risk-reducing to work on things you know, rather than things you guess. If Adsense does not work for you, there are (and will be) other options. A certain high profile member of this board has already suggested that Adsense has 6 months at the most.. and then will slowly decline...

Iguana

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 4:54 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google have not yet cleared me from what I thought was click fraud.

I've realised that they might have actually picked up 'impression fraud'. I was testing one particular page (and copies of that page with changed HTML - same content) because it just kept on bringing up charity ads even though I knew there should be ads for it's content. Eventually by removing javascript (!) I began to get real ads on a version of the page.

The thing is my CTR wasn't particularly high so 100 impressions just from me out of 7,000 from my normal visitors wouldn't have made much difference. But what else could I do - their 'semantic analysis' of a group of my pages was rubbish - semmingly concentrating on interpreting javascript as outward link text and largely ignoring title/H1 and on the page content.

valortrade

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 5:05 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've realised that they might have actually picked up 'impression fraud'.

I just could not imagine that Google would target "fraudulent impressions" first. It should be some other more reliable detecting criteria, such as CTR, IPs, etc.

Jenstar

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jenstar us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 5:08 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Everyone claimed "innocent".

I suspect that while some are truly innocent, there are plenty of those who aren't nearly as innocent as they claim, even if it was only a couple dozen "test clicks" rather than a couple.

Kind of like someone saying they didn't do anything at all to get banned from Google, until GoogleGuy pops up stating specific site factors [webmasterworld.com] such as hidden text that got the site in question banned in the first place.

Iguana

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 5:10 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Their fraud triggers may be based on code from Adwords days when it was cost-per-impression

In any case they have no way of knowing if their fraud detection system works - how many people who got that email would have replied "it's true I was fraudulently clicking". To test a hypothisis you need to get results

falkon

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 5:22 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

i'm concerned with the "fraudulent impressions" issue as well. i just have redesigned the site to better suite the AdSense advertisement. i had to check all the pages in order to test them and correct minor errors, and thats me going through some 900+ pages. Could that be considered a fraudulent activety by AdSense algo? Also my stats say that i do have visitors who brows through most of my site page by page (my site is an exhibition of design examples from great designers and many people come there for inspiration and go through the site in most thoroughful way) that could be considered as fraudulent impressions as well, especially if such visitors would not bother to click on adds.

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 69 posted 6:55 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

I suspect that while some are truly innocent, there are plenty of those who aren't nearly as innocent as they claim, even if it was only a couple dozen "test clicks" rather than a couple.

A publisher can be innocent of fraudulent clicking and still have a problem with fraudulent clicks on his site. Let's say that an NRA member comes across your get-rid-of-guns.org Web site, sees an ad for anti-NRA bumper stickers, and clicks 100 times to punish the advertiser. Those 100 clicks will trigger Google's fraud alarm even if you're innocent, and the advertiser will still get charged for 100 clicks until Google makes an adjustment. After a couple of incidents like this, Google may well decide that the $20 it's earning from get-rid-of-guns.org isn't worth the hassle.

PolishGuy



 
Msg#: 69 posted 7:08 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

publisher can be innocent of fraudulent clicking and still have a problem with fraudulent clicks on his site. Let's say that an NRA member comes across your get-rid-of-guns.org Web site, sees an ad for anti-NRA bumper stickers, and clicks 100 times to punish the advertiser. Those 100 clicks will trigger Google's fraud alarm even if you're innocent, and the advertiser will still get charged for 100 clicks until Google makes an adjustment. After a couple of incidents like this, Google may well decide that the $20 it's earning from get-rid-of-guns.org isn't worth the hassle.

exactly!

google should provide mechanism in which fraudelant clicks simply are not counted, but unless the IP address used for clicks was exactly the same as one from list of 45 latest address under which the owner of adSense account logged himself to the adsense control panel, mechanism that would protect the publisher give him peace of mind!

in fact there are plenty of quality websites with original content, that are not liked by some part of mankind... but loved by some other people. if microsoft employees will start clicking on adsense banners on linux dedicated web sites like a creazy - then should owner of this linux web site suffer? no!

I repeat: google should provide mechanism (software programming needed) that publisher never ever is killed/suspended ... if the clicks were not from his IP addresses... and the clicks are simply not counted if they are repetetive or so..

that what google is doing now is not fair and not ethical.

novice

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 7:19 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Revenue Pilot, Search Feed and Find What all provide sponsored paid search results. I have seen the stats on sites that use them. It is amazing how fast some of them are able to provide real time (or close to it) stats and are able to filter out excessive or fraudulent clicks. On any fraudulent clicks the publisher doesn't get paid and the advertiser doesn't get charged. This is all maintained automatically by logging the IP address of the visitor. I can not believe that Google does not use that technology or probablly something superior to it to filter the fraudulent clicks.

Visi

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 7:38 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Gotta love this thread. almost as many posts as an update thread, and based on about the same amount of hard information....none or very little. Seems to me people in here are using wild examples in an attempt to rationalize a few sites getting letters that....umm...are a result of google's filters. Perhaps it is time to take a step back and realize that any company with a new venture will attempt to error on the side of caution initially. Furthermore are we that niave that we don't think some sites are abusing adsense? Wait till the waters settle a bit more before assuming that filters are not already in place?

As a sidelight, perhaps users of the program want to have a close look at their stats, I think you will see the patterns forming, some of which may be built in safeguards by google?

RobbieD

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 8:14 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Gotta love this thread. almost as many posts as an update thread, and based on about the same amount of hard information....none or very little. Seems to me people in here are using wild examples in an attempt to rationalize a few sites getting letters that....umm...are a result of google's filters. Perhaps it is time to take a step back and realize that any company with a new venture will attempt to error on the side of caution initially. Furthermore are we that niave that we don't think some sites are abusing adsense? Wait till the waters settle a bit more before assuming that filters are not already in place?
As a sidelight, perhaps users of the program want to have a close look at their stats, I think you will see the patterns forming, some of which may be built in safeguards by google?

Well said!

RobbieD

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 8:18 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Get the first check and I think you will sleep better. Publishers that have been on the program for 2-3 months will have benefit of the doubt when it comes to this IMO.

Maybe if this thread gets long enough someone from Google will step in to calm everyone down ;)

JollyK

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 8:37 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

I heard back from Google. They basically said to pay really close attention to the terms and policies and make sure you are and stay in compliance with them. (You can be sure that I'm reading and re-reading them!)

They said not to encourage clicks or use incentives of any kind to click on the ads, which we already knew.

Also, they said that if you suspect fraudulent clicks, to look through your logs for suspicious activity and notify them with your findings. However, it's really in their discretion whether or not they'll take action.

I emailed them again saying that some of the terms and policies were a little unclear (like the "search engine optimization services"? Not sure what that means in terms of AdSense.)

If I get further info, I'll let you know.

PolishGuy



 
Msg#: 69 posted 8:47 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

I emailed them again saying that some of the terms and policies were a little unclear (like the "search engine optimization services"? Not sure what that means in terms of AdSense.)

If I get further info, I'll let you know.

not only are their policies unclear, but also they don't provide certainty to publishers! publishers like myself have to worry "what if some bad boy will cause google to kill my account just because he hates some content that is on my pages"! it shouldn't be like that! google should assure publishers that no third party clicks frauds will cause suspension/killing of a publisher. Google has not done it yet.

so the simplest way to kill competitors of your web site is to go to them and click fraudulantly on their ad sense banners! google should not allow for such misuse. it is bad.

valortrade

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 8:53 pm on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Also, they said that if you suspect fraudulent clicks, to look through your logs for suspicious activity and notify them with your findings. However, it's really in their discretion whether or not they'll take action.

I could smell that this just confirmed what I said before. Try to initiate the talks with Google whenever you would find any suspicious "clicks/CTR".

If you would simply stunned by the "redflag/warning/banned" email from Google, that could be a bad sign.

JollyK

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 12:12 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google responded to my second email.

I asked "I am having a hard time understanding some of the stuff in the terms. For example, what does "fraudulent use of other search engine optimization services and/or software" mean?

Google replied that they are working to improve the wording of the terms and so forth, but basically there are many services on the web that help people to increase traffic or make greater profits and that these types of services should not be abused.

I also asked them about "search engine spam" techniques getting a user kicked out. Specifically, I do have hidden text on my page that is just slightly off from the background color which I use as a spamtrap. (The text says "Do not email whatever@my_domain.blah" in the hopes that spambots will get it but people will not.) I asked if Google would penalize for this just because the font was close to the background.

Google replied that yes, it would appear as hidden text, and should be avoided. They pointed me to the general Google guidelines, and implied that my site should make sure to follow those. (As a side note, WebPosition Gold is specifically mentioned in the Google guidelines as not being recommended.)

I then said that I have text above the ads saying, "Note: You may see some Google ads below. It's something new I'm trying out. Please notify me if you see an inappropriate ad," and asked them if this was okay.

Google replied that no, that wording may incite others to click on the ads and that it would be best to avoid the wording.

Since I don't really use any SEO software or services, I guess this is my signal not to start doing so. :-) I also removed any text from near the Google ads, and put the spamtrap into just visible text.

So, that's where I left off.

JollyK

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 2:46 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

And....

Then a couple of hours later, I got the dreaded "Fraudulent clicks" email.

I don't use any SEO software or services.
I have never, not once, not even accidentally, clicked on an AdSense ad.

Gads.

I asked them if they could give me any information to help in their investigation, but I'm flabbergasted.

Now I know how the other people felt.

valortrade

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 3:14 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Sorry to hear that.

Is that because you asked so many question? ("nonsense")

What is the "symptom"? Didn't you find any "unusal" CTR or something?

JollyK

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 3:39 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

That's the odd thing. I just started with AdSense a couple of weeks ago. I've been slowly putting them on different parts of the site, and just put it on the main page yesterday or the day before. Now, yesterday was the highest clicks I've had so far in one day, but not the highest CTR.

Impressions have gone up quite a bit over the last couple of weeks as I've added the ads to more pages. The highest CTR is about one percent above the lowest CTR but it sort of goes up and down in a more or less reasonable manner, as far as I can tell. I mean, there's no sudden jump to double-digit CTR's.

There's just not anything that jumps out at me, other than yesterdays clicks were the highest yet, but there is a very small gap between yesterdays and the next highest.

If I knew what happened, I'd try to stop it. I'm sure Google found something, because in general I trust Google, but what? And how can I stop it? It's not like yesterday there were 3 clicks and today there were 300 or even 30.

I now sympathize with all the other folks who swore they had no idea why they got the email. :-(

kennebec

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 3:48 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, the unnamed people at Google seemed to become much more friendly - almost conciliatory - in tone today after I questioned their "fraudulent activity" note ... then questioned their response ... and then questioned their response to their response.

In the end, their fraud warning seems to boil down to our testing their links as we were implementing a test. And they even agreed that for testing purposes, "you may click on one or two."

The strong threats that we would be spanked, punished and then evicted seem to have mellowed.

Ironically, during our five-day test of the program we recorded a click-through rate no lower than 0.4% and no higher than 0.6%. (How in the world could anyone achieve a 15 or 20% click-through rate? I've been in this business for a few years. That dog don't float!)

Anyhow, my own take is that this seems like a very, very new program, with many kinks and bugs; I also kind of suspect that the behind-the-scenes tools at Google are much less sophisticated and fail-safe than the folks at Google would claim.

Why else would they be so quick to send nasty notes ... yet so intentionally and utterly vague in avoiding any explanation of what the problem is?

Jenstar

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jenstar us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 3:58 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

recorded a click-through rate no lower than 0.4% and no higher than 0.6%.

This confirms that AdSense is using other factors than just high CTR as checks for fraudulent activity. And that they do have something in place to check publishers clickthroughs.

chiyo

WebmasterWorld Senior Member chiyo us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 4:32 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>AdSense is using other factors than just high CTR as checks for fraudulent activity<<

yes, but i would think many would have assumed that already. its just that CTR is most obvious, and is one of the few bits of info on our account history that google shares with us. II'd guess their more powerful indicators are kept inhouse! (including CTR per page, % of clickers by country/IP/times/browser ID's/ and crossreferencing "clickers" with what other ads they click on through the whole network, plus historical info on "suspect" IPs, and finally google's own historical info on the site and owners itself including (admittedly very rough) toolbar data on estimated impression rates and comprisons with "similar sites CTR". )

>>they do have something in place to check publishers clickthroughs<<

that would be easy for them through cookies or checking IP's on control panels, and an almost essential security measure. In that reply, Google just said that "it was ok to click on a couple for testing purposes", but didnt actually say whether they checked publisher's clickthroughs. So no new info there really (other than a couple of accidental, or test clicks from a publisher's IP/machine would probably not do enough to flag the account)

But nice info to confirm that such an email may not be the "kiss-of-death" and all adds to trying to understand whats going on so thanks kennebec.

Poweroid

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 69 posted 8:36 am on Jul 31, 2003 (gmt 0)


Ironically, during our five-day test of the program we recorded a click-through rate no lower than 0.4% and no higher than 0.6%. (How in the world could anyone achieve a 15 or 20% click-through rate? I've been in this business for a few years. That dog don't float!)

I'm sorry to disappoint you. Genuine CTRs in that range are not only possible but they are happening, have been happening for a while, and - on some sites - with no objection from Google. If you've established a steady CTR of 17-18% no email. If that jumps to 20% you will get a warning email. It's not the CTR itself, it's sudden variations.

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