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A webmaster writes to me saying he clicked ads.
Now, I should reciprocate......
Green_Grass




msg:3540452
 4:33 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

What should I do?

Report him to adsense and risk my account... (They may think I encourage this?.. I know I am being paranoid but..)

Write to him advising him that this is wrong...

or

Keep quiet..

I am worried..

 

The Contractor




msg:3540497
 5:03 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

How do you know it's really the person they say they are? Wouldn't it be easy to screw up someone's site reputation by doing what you are describing?

LifeinAsia




msg:3540512
 5:07 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'd ignore it. If he contacts you again and escalates the situation, just say you never received the first message. But chances are he will just go away if you don't answer.

Green_Grass




msg:3540535
 5:22 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yeah.. I did consider that it may be someone trying to get someone else banned? The email had a list of his? sites.

I guess, I better ignore this mail.

But these kind of mails are troubling. I checked the site stats he says he clicked ads on.. They did show an unusually high CTR esp as it is a low traffic site..

rocker




msg:3540542
 5:37 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Green_Grass, I would save the email, it may come in handy if a problem comes up.

Hobbs




msg:3540543
 5:40 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't think you have a choice.
If the mentioned site generated any noticeable extra revenue and above normal CTR, you are obliged to report this activity otherwise you will me at the mercy of whoever did the clicking for he can do it more than once and start embezzling.

Forward the message headers as text as well as the message body to the AdSense support, it will be up to them to verify that the email originated from the links owner, and you can sleep better.

If your main worry is Google's mistakingly banning you, you have nothing to fear as long as you know your sites can pass the sniff test. They would be extremely stupid to shoot the messenger and instill fear in publishers reporting click fraud.

jomaxx




msg:3540796
 11:48 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

How many clicks are we talking about? Doesn't sound like it was maliciously aimed at harming you. Unless you have reason to believe it was a substantial number, I'd forget about it -- with the caveat that you probably want to stay away from this person and his website.

Green_Grass




msg:3540924
 7:00 am on Jan 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your responses.

No I do not think, it was malicious. There were only a few clicks as far as I can estimate.. maybe 5-6

Maybe this webmaster generates his clicks in this fashion.

potentialgeek




msg:3541371
 11:48 pm on Jan 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

He's probably one of these people who solicit link exchanges... which lead to money (better ranking, more clicks, in theory), so in his small mind he thinks, why not adsense clicks, too?

It's pathetic.

If he keeps his brainwave rockin', sooner rather than later he'll get banned. Does he really think Google can't backtrack his "generous" clicks to his Adsense account? That it will see his login IP address, but not the Adsense click IP?

He committed link fraud, and you have every right to report it, but it's very difficult to recommend reporting him. You just never know what kind of sabotage an online wacko might attempt once banned. Anyone with the lack of character to commit fraud has the same low morals to attempt revenge.

When the banned publisher appeals process is ominous and virtually non-existent, it's often best to let these things go.

p/g

MikeNoLastName




msg:3541413
 4:11 am on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

"If your main worry is Google's mistakingly banning you, you have nothing to fear as long as you know your sites can pass the sniff test. They would be extremely stupid to shoot the messenger and instill fear in publishers reporting click fraud. "

Ha! Believe me, from experience, no they probably won't "ban" you but they will MORE than likely smart-price you to death by marking your site with the constant "unbenefit of the doubt" (i.e. if something looks the least bit non-standard, they must be doing something sneaky).

As far as telling G Adsense, from one who once always tried to be honest and helpful and gungho for GAd, I now say: "Always, better to ignore it and let GAd worry about their OWN @#$% problems, they certainly don't worry about YOURS!"

It's an interesting scam, which if done properly could conceivably bring Adsesne to it's knees and make a lot of money for those involved at least for a while: a few daily well placed clicks from a LOT of seemingly random IPs all over the world could well spell a death by a 1000 cuts for GAd. If they haven't already found a way to detect his group and others like him, I hope they are working on it. Although it will probably lead to MORE mark downs for all the rest of us. How will they ever definitively detect the difference between what he is doing and the legitimate repetitive viewer activity on a popular blog for instance? Maybe you can get him to buy something on the clicks too just to add validity ;). BTW, this is apparently one more reason, for Adsense pulishers NOT TO EVER click on Adsense ads on ANY OTHER sites they visit (even Google I suppose), even if they are truly interested and legitimate, lest one accidently be implicated by GAd as part of such a scam.

[edited by: MikeNoLastName at 4:28 am (utc) on Jan. 6, 2008]

simey




msg:3541467
 7:36 am on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think the email aspect of this needs to be thrown out since there isn't any way to truly know if the email was genuine, (sent by someone who clicked ads).

Leaving the question- can any unnatural click activity damage someones adsense acct?

Hobbs




msg:3541471
 8:25 am on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

>they will MORE than likely smart-price you to death

I don't think SmartPricing is used as a weapon. This is about click fraud, Google's highest liability, and that 800 pound gorilla can be many things but not stupid.

Anyway, a simple solution is to for publishers to use another computer, connection & Hotmail to turn in that sucker in anonymously, but his domains have to be reported and investigated as he is a liability to publishers too.

Juan_G




msg:3541515
 10:27 am on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is not the three wise monkeys' proverb, but experience seems to show the, in general, best -or least bad- way:
  • Don't reply to spammers.
  • Don't reply to trolls.
  • Don't reply to scammers.

There is also a help section from AdSense Support on Invalid Clicks and Impressions [google.com].

Juan_G




msg:3541531
 11:07 am on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

MikeNoLastName wrote:

Ha! Believe me, from experience, no they probably won't "ban" you but they will MORE than likely smart-price you


If there can be a significant trouble for advertisers, I think reporting it is the right thing to do. Of course, contact Support, not the troublemakers.

From some observations (that is, circumstantial evidence, so we don't know with what frequency), some smartpricing effect seems to happen automatically -rather than manually- after unusual or invalid click activity, even if you don't report it.

If this is the case, it's naturally unfair for the innocent webmasters, suffering the effect (lower EPC, etc.) for maybe some weeks. Anyway, invalid clicks are usually detected by Google's algorithms, and have a $0 value for advertisers and publishers. Therefore, that additional smartpricing discount seems unnecessary in this specific situation.

[edited by: Juan_G at 11:58 am (utc) on Jan. 6, 2008]

MikeNoLastName




msg:3541835
 2:30 am on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

"... weapon... 800 pound goriila"
"Therefore, that additional smartpricing discount seems unnecessary in this specific situation. "

Smartpricing seems the simplest and most logical place to compensate for this sort of thing. Read the exact wording of what G says on the subject. Think of it this way, if G "detected" that a half-dozen clicks today were definitely fraudulent and another half-dozen were PROBABLY fraud (they flagged them and think so, but couldn't tell for sure) out of say 60 clicks, that's 20% of no use to the advertiser. Then they figure "well if there were this many definites and likelies, then how about all the others we're not even catching?" So they would probably throw in another 10-20% for those to "compensate" the advertiser for further possible ineffectiveness. So the next day you come in and find your PPCs discounted 30%. Then a few days latter they detect another 6 (probably unrelated) anomolies. Ah-ha! a proven HABITUAL fraudster. Subtract another 10% and another 10% for the likelihood it is happening daily... and on and on until you're down to 2%.

Believe me I've seem it happen at least twice where drawing their attention to possible detected fraud results in an INSTANT (i.e. next day) permanent, across the board, smart-pricing effect appearance. From all the incidents I've had and read about with them I'm not real confident with their competance as a whole. Not enough redundancy where it counts: giving publishers the benefit of the doubt.

Not necessarily in YOUR case, but what if I were WRONG when I reported the suspicious traffic! and those WEREN'T fraudulent clicks, but rather a good link from a very popular AOL newsgroup, and I just targeted everyone on a New York AOL proxy IP as a fradulent clicker and thus all future clicks from that IP to your site are all priced $0?! Ahhhhhhh! If you don't start the ball rolling by tellimg them about it in the first place them detecting the original frudulent clicks is probably far far slimmer. Noone can blame you if you claim ignorance. Go watch the Oliver North or Enron trial videos again :).

vincevincevince




msg:3541838
 2:36 am on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

I would most certainly forward the email, with headers, to Google Adsense.

Green_Grass




msg:3541889
 5:57 am on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Interesting what Mike say..

In the past as I recall, when I received an unusually high CTR on one of my channels, I bought it to G's attention. Subsequently, I received only 1 cent clicks on this channel. Infact, I still receive only 1 cent clicks here (before writing to G the avg. EPC was 6 cents) and now try to divert this traffic with inhouse advertising elsewhere. It seems this specific page has been permanently knocked off. I never related it to my mail to adSense, as they did do a check and told me that everything was fine. It now , in hindsight seems a manual penalty.

This current particular page ( we are discussing) used to receive a avg. EPC of 10 cents. It is now down to 5 cents.. I hope it recovers soonest.

Juan_G




msg:3542519
 7:45 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

The Contractor wrote:

How do you know it's really the person they say they are? Wouldn't it be easy to screw up someone's site reputation by doing what you are describing?


Indeed, this is also a point to consider. Before reporting it, at least you should analyze the email headers.

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