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Reporting click fraud to Google AdSense
If you know a publisher guilty of invalid clicks...

 6:33 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have been asked to announce a new reporting feature AdSense has just introduced - similar to the "spamreport" [webmasterworld.com] feature that Matt Cutts announced at the conference last month. This one, however, is specifically targeting click fraud, and the information goes to the AdSense click fraud team.

If you know a publisher engaging in click fraud and generating invalid clicks, you can now report the publisher by going to his or her site, clicking on the "Ads by Google" and including "invalid clicks" in the comment field. You can remain anonymous, or include your email address when you submit it.

Google is specifically targeting invalid clicks, such as click bots, click rings, "hired to click", etc.

Advertisers who track fraudulently generated clicks to a single publisher should also be able to report this way (although you should also go through the AdWords report method as well).

It will be interesting to see if there will be an increase in "my AdSense account just got suspended for invalid clicks" over the next couple of months... just what we need more of in this forum ;)



 4:02 am on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

while doing a little snooping this morning on "click my ads" I found and yes, reported a few of them and guess what? All the sites I had where the term referred to google and not some other ad company was FORUMS.

Amazing but true. Glad I no longer run a forum as it would seem they are so blatant about abusing the rules that they may become the number one suspect and forums would then be banned from showing adsense.

They seem to think that if they ask for clicks in a thread, or two, or three, they can get away with it. The one regular site was a university, go figure...I thought educated people read everything....or is it they think they already know everything so why read? :-)



 11:12 am on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Amazing but true. Glad I no longer run a forum as it would seem they are so blatant about abusing the rules that they may become the number one suspect and forums would then be banned from showing adsense.

I see plenty of "content sites" (articles, etc) abusing the TOS... I saw a site the other day which had a "please click the ads" type statement written in big, bold, bright red text next to a square Adsense block on their article pages. Are all content sites now suspect? Don't be silly.

Making rash statements suggesting all forums induce click fraud is just mis-informed.


 11:22 am on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Jason I don't think that Ann was suggesting that all forums do this but there can be no disputing that many of them do. What she said was that on a search for "click the ads" many of the results were from forums - this is a different thing from saying that all forums are guilty of click fraud.

However, it must be said that some people obviously see forums as a cash cow that they don't have to feed.

Present company excluded of course :)


 12:05 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Use ASP to track IP address clicks and which ads are performing. It does require the visitor have javascript on but that is 85% of all those out there.


 12:48 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thank you, BeeDeeDubbleu,

You are right. I was referring to the old saying about bad apples. One can ruin a whole barrel. (unless the other apples kick it our first) LOL.

I was not looking for forums they just happened to be the forerunner in the search I did, "please click the ads"

I will report them anytime I find one, forum or not. IF the spam is in a gray area then I move on and wait because, not being perfect, I could be wrong.

Only if it is dead bang and I see ALL the elements...the statement AND the ads will I act on it as I do not like causing others grief unless they are messing up my yard.



 5:11 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

i assume that such a report just brings a site to the top of the pile for the investigators to research.

Reports with a valid email address may go to the top.
An anonymous report might appear somewhere futher down the pile :)


 5:23 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Action is taken

About 3-4 days ago I did a fairly esoteric search for which I expected very few result - basically "unusual name" keyword

I was surprised to find several pages of results. When I took a look about 95% were scraper sites, all the same layout/design (if you could call it that), obviously the same origin and all bedecked with Google ads and little else. Mayve 80 of them, all different urls, 2-3 legitimate results.

I sent in a report, with my email address. Just checked the same query now. The sites are still there - they have no Google ads.


 5:26 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

With image ads this technique does not appear to work. Some of the CPM/image ads I have seen have a "Feedback - Ads by Google" link but when you click on it you do not get the same form you get with the text ads. Is there a good method for reporting sites that only show image ads?


 8:21 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Click fraud is serious business, and serious moral issue.
Anyone engaged in click fraud should be suspended from Adsense program immediately.


 8:27 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Some of the CPM/image ads I have seen have a "Feedback - Ads by Google" link but when you click on it you do not get the same form you get with the text ads

Just curious, what exactly will be the report about?Impression fraud?


 8:34 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

The site in question has the following text by their adsense ads:

I have recently partnered with {Google}, and they have placed {widgets} related advertisements on many of my pages. This helps me defray some costs of bandwidth and other expenses of maintaining this website. I would appreciate you clicking on those ads that interest you, and hope that I can make your visit to my site more enjoyable in the future.

In my opinion, this will generate invalid clicks. It's also in violation of the Adsense TOS.


 7:03 pm on Jul 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

I emailed Adsense about the site in question and got this email back:


What would be better do you think, sending an email to adsense-abuse@google.com or using the feedback form and including "invalid clicks" in the message?

Your thoughts?

[edited by: Jenstar at 2:33 am (utc) on July 8, 2005]
[edit reason] No email quotes, or outting of publisher sites, as per TOS [/edit]


 4:31 am on Jul 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

I reported a site that committed click fraud, will those ads still be displayed on the site if Google disables their account?


 5:52 am on Jul 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

What would be better do you think, sending an email to adsense-abuse@google.com or using the feedback form and including "invalid clicks" in the message?

I have reported a couple of sites for blatant click fraud. On of them was advertising on my site, and the landing page was simply one button ad, centre of a page of whitespace above the fold, with a "click on the google ads" notice. Below the fold were a lot of keywords. I reported this via the link, and nothing happened. I later tried emailing them and the site got zapped. However, this "invalid clicks" is new, and I'd suggest giving it a try first.


 6:47 am on Jul 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why should it be invalid?
The webmaster is asking people to click on an ad that is of interest to them. Thats the whole idea of putting them there in the first place. Google except people to click on ads that interest them. Strategic ad placement is the same as asking people to click. Google even make suggestions as to where to stick the ads to attract the visitor. It is to be reasonably expected by the ordinary visitor that the webmaster incurs expences in running the site, and that advertising is one way to cover those costs. The ads are relevent or should be to the pages content, and the webmaster is not asking a visitor to click using an inducement. All that webmaster is doing is to invite a visitor to click on an ad if it is of interest,thats all.The mere placement of an ad block is saying the same thing.

It is not fraud.


 7:08 am on Jul 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

First, asking people to click is clearly against the terms of the contract that you agreed to, so I'm not really sure what your point is there.

Second, if you're replying to david_uk, did you even read his post? The landing page consisted of a bunch of keywords designed to attract high-paying ads. The ads shown will presumably be relevant to the keywords stuffed onto the page, but that's not really the point.


 7:56 am on Jul 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am a clean-as-a-whistle publisher, however I find this growing witchhunt attitude alarming.

It has come to the point where on another webmaster forum several senior members sent a fake email purporting to be from Adsense telling one of these young people running a 'click my ads' forum that their account was terminated.

The Adsense revenue model is a microcasm of society in general. I highly doubt any of you guys volunteer to stand in front of the local shopping mall and chase down teenaged shoplifters.

I also doubt that sending kids to 'juvenile detention' (as in getting them kicked from Adsense), does as much good as setting a positive role model and explaining that there is more cash to be made from being a legitimate Adsense publisher.

In the very end, you are certainly not making your piece of the pie any bigger by tarring and feathering publishers. If it is as easy to defraud Google on a measurable scale as pointing some arrows to your ad units, I can guarantee you there will be no shortage of punters lining up to take the place of the person you just Charles Bronson'ed'.


 8:15 am on Jul 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

In the very end, you are certainly not making your piece of the pie any bigger by tarring and feathering publishers.

I think you are missing the point. Encouraging people to click ads just for the sake of it is effectively theft whther or not it is against the law. Each time they do this with no intention of purchasing it costs a real person some real money as surely as if they dipped your pocket. It's not Google who loses the money. It's the real people who are spending real money by using Adwords. Are you suggesting that they don't matter?

I think people tend to disassociate themselves with the facts because their Adsense cheque comes from the big fat cash cow that is Google.


 8:56 am on Jul 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

in addition to the moral and legal issues of reporting cheaters, there is another reason to turn them in - self preservation. adsense is a system that relies on publishers, advertisers and visitors. fraudsters are upsetting the balance, and if it gets out of control, it could theoretically have dire consequences to the entire system.

a publisher that turns in a click-enticer or a fraudulent-click-scheme is promoting the overall health of the system.

dont forget, that at the end of the day, google will only shut down accounts that deserve to be shut down, so merely reporting doesn't do much more than alert google of the problem.

i would only urge that publisers only notify google about the true cheaters - there are so many of them. it would be a pity to fill google's inbox with insignificant infringers. i think its best to focus efforts on the real black-hat perpetrators and then tidy up the system thereafter.


 9:51 am on Jul 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

It's true I have had my Adwords campaign turned off for 3 months as it was impossible for me to turn a satisfying profit margin from it. I just attributed it to me not having enough time/skills to create an effective campaign.

One thing I did notice though is that in my case, content sites returned -better- conversion rates than the search network.. go figure..

I do appreciate both sides of the coin (and Visa does too , on my behalf :)), I just tend to worry about about people using more sophisticated fraud methods more than those putting 'please click my ads' next to a skyscraper. And i'm sure google does too..

Bottom line is, and it's been said before, people who encourage clicks often do not know they are doing anything wrong. My computer-literate associates could not even understand why I asked them to never ever click ads on my sites.. why not send the publisher an email instead, and explain briefly why they should stop doing what they are doing?

It's just good business sense, their site could grow and possibly bring you customers, why shoot them down needlessly and create even more Tribalfusion smiley skyscrapers?

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