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Advertiser Responsibility for "Invalid Clicks." Is there such a thing?
Build a landing page that matches the ad. What a concept.
webcentric




msg:4648955
 4:30 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

You know. With invalid click monitoring becoming an obsession at Google. It makes one wonder where the responsibility lies for at least one type of "invalid click" e.g. the instant back button variety.

So, if I'm a surfer, riding the online waves while listening to my favorite Beach Boys tune and I see something that says "Free Coupons for Surfboards" and I'm thinking about buying a new surfboard, I'm probably gonna check it out. So, I click on the link and I land on a page that say's, "Fill out our survey and we'll email you some free coupons." Now, if I'm one of those characters who would never fill out a survey in a million years while listening to my favorite band, just the word "survey" is going to be enough to make me reach for my back button.

So, the question is, is this an invalid click because the user wasn't really interested in what the advertiser is pushing or is in an invalid click because the advertiser wasn't being up front about the nature of the offer? Or is it a valid click the advertising is now going to get for free. One word can be all it takes for a surfer to make up their mind about whether they're interested or not. Email submission forms are another type of trigger that can cause back button fever in the blink of an eye.

So is it my fault the advertiser drove the traffic away that I sent to them and should they really be getting their money back because they don't know how to treat a visitor with some respect?

Frankly, a lot of advertisers are pulling this crap and it's publishers who are getting reamed for it. Seems like G has just created a situation where Advertisers are getting traffic they're not paying for. This isn't a CPA network. We send traffic, it's the advertiser's responsibility to convert it.

This thought doesn't attempt to address any other kind of "invalid click." Not too long ago, the discussions around here were pointing a finger at this behavior as one of the key reasons for invalid click activity. The discussion has moved on to robotic clicks but back button disengagement seems to be the primary reason I'm seeing for removal of revenue from my account at this point in time. Can't blame anyone for being irritated by this and the smoke screen of bot activity doesn't excuse the way this aspect of the problem is handled.

Food for thought.

 

netmeg




msg:4648997
 6:01 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

That would not be considered an invalid click. The advertiser would get charged for it, and if he kept the campaign going as you described, he would probably pay more and more for the clicks and you might earn more and more from sending them to him.

[support.google.com...]

There are quality controls on both ends - Quality Score for advertisers, and Smart Pricing for publishers, that are supposed to keep things in balance. For the most part, it's better having them than not, but Google obviously doesn't always get it right. And of course, Google is very opaque about how it all works exactly. But if you play both sides of the field, you can get a feel for it. I have a feeling that if it's a toss-up, the decision usually goes in favor of the advertiser, though.

If it went on long enough and was judged to be seriously misleading or in some other way against the rules, the ad would be stopped by Google, and if the history and other activity of the account warranted it, the account would be closed.

netmeg




msg:4649003
 6:16 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

Actually this link is probably more useful as it relates more closely to the Display Network. Because there are no keyword bids involved with the Display Network, QS behaves differently. For one thing, landing page relevance is a bigger part of Display QS.

[support.google.com...]

webcentric




msg:4649008
 6:40 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

Interesting. I sort of figured there were some quality checks on the advertiser side of things but I don't use Adwords or purchase advertising generally so wasn't fully aware of the way it works.

I can see how the QS would impact placement of the ad but does all this mean that quick back button clicks are not really a factor in the "invalid click" arena or it it just not as much of a problem as other factors?

Another factor for example is double clicking and I can usually see that when it happens. For one, there are an even number of clicks (usually two) and the revenue is divisible by two. Suspicions are confirmed when one of the clicks disappears along with half the revenue. I haven't found a way that definitively points to back-button activities and little indication of bot clicks on my sites as well (if any) but I'm actively looking for specific indicators that point to specific reasons for removal of clicks. It's not a solution but rather a way of gaining deeper understanding of the process that might lead to some preventative measures.

engine




msg:4649011
 6:47 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

I agree, it would not be considered an invalid click, especially if you only did it once. Multiple clicks should get flagged, and are likely to be the actions of fraudulent activity.

My biggest concern is that click fraud is running out of control and the only thing that indicates a problem is the invalid clicks.

I wonder how many advertisers are starting to pose these questions at a higher level.

Whether you be an advertiser or a publisher, we're all suffering from click fraud to some extent.

Oh, and Google recently invested in tackling click fraud when it announced, "Google Acquires Anti-Click Fraud Company, Spider.io [webmasterworld.com]

netmeg




msg:4649012
 6:47 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

all this mean that quick back button clicks are not really a factor in the "invalid click" arena


Not to my knowledge, and I've been doing AdWords since they opened the doors.

Double clicking I'm a little fuzzier about; as far as I know there are times when it's counted and times when it isn't, and probably just depends on what Google determines is the user intent. They have a metric s--t ton about user behavior before and after the click, the history of the publisher, the history of the advertiser, other publishers and advertisers of similar ilk to compare them to, etc etc etc.

netmeg




msg:4649016
 6:52 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

My biggest concern is that click fraud is running out of control and the only thing that indicates a problem is the invalid clicks.


My concern as well, Neil - I see it on both sides, from the bots running rampant in my AdSense accounts to the ever increasing amount I'm credited back in my AdWords accounts - and I keep thinking, what *aren't* they getting? Even after all the daily ups and down, my AdSense account this month has five times the earnings it had last February - if they don't take most of it out at the end of the month, I know for a fact that some advertiser(s) got ripped off. And that means that maybe on the sites where I advertise - *I'm* getting ripped off.

IanCP




msg:4649046
 7:53 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

@netmeg:
I see it on both sides, from the bots running rampant in my AdSense accounts

Why? For what purpose?

The only scenario's which makes sense to me it high school types creating a bot for no other reason than "they can", and disaffected people with a grudge taking it out on society. Much like early malicious viruses.

Then again, sometimes I'm incredibly naive,

netmeg




msg:4649055
 8:04 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

I don't know. I have three different bot attacks going on with different sites right now (and only one that is targeting AdSense) and I can't tell you for sure the motivation behind any of them.

However, if I had to guess, I would guess that the target is Google, not me, and the purpose might be either financial (i.e. there are network of advertiser and publisher accounts set up to take advantage of whatever falls through the cracks) or vengeful, i.e. some people got good and pissed at Google (cause that never happens, right?) and decided to undermine confidence in the ad network. Because if the advertisers start really losing confidence in the network, that's a big issue. That's what happened a few years ago when a bunch of us abandoned the Yahoo Content Network when we finally got to see who the "search partners" really were and the type of sites that were displaying our ads.

At least, if I were of a particular mindset, that's how *I* would go about venting my rage at Google.

webcentric




msg:4649098
 10:21 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

Oh, and Google recently invested in tackling click fraud when it announced, "Google Acquires Anti-Click Fraud Company, Spider.io"


This has made me wonder in relationship to the various reporting delays we all see as well. On very real possibility is that G is steadily integrating new click fraud algorithms that cause these delays. Seems every time there's a reporting delay, the complaints of invalid click take-backs only increase in the wake of it.

netmeg




msg:4649103
 10:39 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

Possibly, or possibly people just notice more claw backs because they're checking more because there's a reporting delay. Six of one.

webcentric




msg:4649115
 11:06 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

Six of one.


Agreed. This may all be a philosophical exercise anyway. Perhaps like bots clicking on ads. Philosophical differences, moral differences, high school pranks? Does the reason really matter? Who knows? Gotta contemplate something besides my navel occasionally. ;)

Lame_Wolf




msg:4649116
 11:21 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

Seems every time there's a reporting delay, the complaints of invalid click take-backs only increase in the wake of it.
I see it even when there aren't any delays. I check at least 50 times a day, so I see things on a micro level.
webcentric




msg:4649121
 11:40 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

I see it even when there aren't any delays.


My point was that, in recent months, there have been some serious episodes of delayed reporting, something was happening during those times and as time goes on, the instances of invalid click removal only seems to be increasing. I'm suggesting a process of adding more and more layers of validation that, 1. slow down reporting when initially introduced and 2. generally cause people to see more and more instances of removed clicks from that point forward. I'm suggesting more of a cumulative effect than an immediately noticeable cause and effect relationship between a couple of isolated events. In other words, just because there's a delay today doesn't mean look out for a bunch of lost clicks tomorrow. Rather, I'm suggesting that click removal is increasing and throughout this period of increasing click removal activity, reporting is getting log jammed over an over again and I'm wondering it the same mechanisms that are jamming up reporting periodically are also responsible for the overall increase in invalid click removals. Add more fail-safes, it bogs down reporting while at the same time more efficiently trapping and removing invalid clicks. That's one of my crazy theories anyway.

I see things on a micro level


And I'm looking at them from a long-term trends perspective. It's good to consider both the forest and the trees.

Lame_Wolf




msg:4649147
 1:12 am on Feb 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

My point was that, in recent months, there have been some serious episodes of delayed reporting,
It's been like that for a couple of years, at least.

When was the last time G made an announcement that there will be maintenance? Years, yet they still make at least 300 updates a year, or whatever it was.

eek2121




msg:4649518
 9:58 pm on Feb 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

For one of my clients i recently stepped in to help manage an adwords account. I recenty discovered a very poor performing campaign was generating more than 17,000 clicks a month with no purchases. 99.5% of the clicks came from a chinese news portal. Out of the 75,000 or so clicks in the past 6 months there were 0 conversions. Should we have paid more attention? Yes. Should google have smart priced the publisher? Yes. Did they? No. I blacklisted the site. Now the campaign itself is performing much better.

engine




msg:4649662
 10:39 am on Feb 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

Should google have smart priced the publisher? Yes. Did they? No.


This doesn't help anyone, especially the advertiser, and, importantly, the reputation of Google's system comes into question.

It's why I welcome the additional efforts to combat click fraud.

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