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|'Click Fraud' Threatens Foundation of Web Ads (Wash Post)|
Google Faces Another Lawsuit by Businesses Claiming Overcharges
"From her home surrounded by cornfields in Dow City, Iowa, Jackie Park spends hours each day on her computer, earning half a penny every time she clicks on an Internet advertisement.
By the end of the day, she usually tallies a few hundred clicks, yielding about $300 a year."
"Yankee Group estimated that fraudulent means are involved in 1 of every 10 clicks on text ads, which translated to a $500 million problem last year, when pay-per-click ads generated a total of $5 billion. Other consultants estimate that click fraud is much larger, perhaps a $1 billion problem affecting 12 percent to 30 percent of all ad clicks."
|Manual click fraud? That's so 1999. |
You took the words right out of my mouth. Every year since [mumble, mumble] way back when, these stories have regularly appeared each year.
Does it happen? Yes
Is it out of control? No
Any change since way back when? I doubt it.
If you do business on the internet should you be concerned?
NO! No more so than any "bricks and mortar" business has to factor in shoplifter activities.
All the same, as the saying goes, there isn't anything really new, just new variants on old themes.
I just don't understand how desperate someone would have to be to throw away hours every day on something that only earns $300 a year.
Are there really that many people who would do that for very long before realising McDonalds pays better? What use is $300 a year anyway?
Unless you had a farm of PCs doing this automatically, I can't see how it could earn enough to be worth anyone doing. But if you can afford a farm of PCs and know how to set them up to do this automatically, you're probably not going to be interested in earning peanuts anyway.
--yielding about $300 a year. It's not much, but it adds up for the 35-year-old mother of five--
If you DO have five kids, are you really going to have the time to spend hours a day clicking on advertisements at a pay rate of 82 cents a day?
I don't advertise on the web, but if I did, frankly I wouldn't care about a 10-15% fraud element as long as I was getting my brand name out there and selling my widgets at a profit over and above the cost of the advertsing.
|The passivity of Google is obscene and pathetic |
... and very, very profitable ...
I don't believe click fraud is profitable for Google in the long term. The more click fraud out there the lower the conversion rate for advertisers. Result: advertisers allocate a smaller percentage of their total advertising budget to Adwords. Google's fortunes are surely linked to that of their advertisers.
|I just don't understand how desperate someone would have to be to throw away hours every day on something that only earns $300 a year. |
I guess the 1.1 billion people who live on less than $1 per day. Admittedly most of them don't have access to a PC, but a third world entrepreneur could probably help with that.
[edited by: StuWhite at 11:45 am (utc) on Oct. 23, 2006]
Just this moment received a spam email the jist of which is below :-
"make $1,000.00 a day - click where we tell you to click - work about ten minutes a day at home"
StuWhite, Click fraud ultimately effects the credibility of the content network.
Which realy ^#&$^$ me off!
The shoplifting analogy is a bit off, if I have a B & M store its up to me how vigilant i am in preventing shoplifting, I have control over that. Some stores are lax, either on purpose or unknowingly. The point is the control is in the shopkeepers hands whereas click fraud is totally out of our control. Google says you got x amount of clicks, thats what they're charging you for. Period. I can't point a security camera at that.
Please, lets get some better analogies here. I ain't buying that one.
The economics of this "threat" to advertising are all wrong, if that article is correct then it pays literally worse than Third World wages. Anyone who tries to earn a living from it will run out of money or run out of patience within a few weeks of starting.
--I guess the 1.1 billion people who live on less than $1 per day. Admittedly most of them don't have access to a PC, but a third world entrepreneur could probably help with that.--
If you're on a dollar a day:
You would already be desperately busy earning the $1 you already get.
You wouldn't have a PC.
You wouldn't have internet access.
You probably wouldn't have a regular electricity supply (heck you probably wouldn't have a safe water supply).
You couldn't afford internet access and electricity even if supplies were available.
You wouldn't have a bank account to cash the cheque from such activities.
You might not be literate at all, let alone computer literate.
You might not understand english, which is the language used on most of these sites.
And what kind of bizarre "entrepreneur" is going to set you up with a computer, an internet access point, literacy lessons, english lessons, computer training, a bank account and electricity for a share of 82 cents a day?
If by some miracle millions of people on $1 a day each do receive all these things, there are far more productive things they could do with such skills and equipment than click on banners for several hours a day. In many emerging countries such educated people would earn far more working in call centres providing customer support for international corporations.
This is just an obvious attempt by the print media (in decline) to discredit the new media (growing) with horror stories to scare advertisers back into their fold.
They (print media) will be pushing this same old story for another few years yet until they all buy up some big web property to jump on the bandwagon and attempt a stock price turnaround for their shareholders.
I worked in newspapers and saw first hand the fraud and deceit that goes into claims of circulation (used to determine ad costs), "readership" (what a joke that was) and lame attempts at justification for the expense.
Major newspaper chains are hemorrhaging money and this is a thrashing out and dying gasp by them to recapture what their greed and 1970s journalism school/business sense squandered away.
Tech is by no means safe and there could be another internet bubble in the years ahead, but it's the new medium, it's here to stay and it can be crowned as the new king.
I think the largest potential for fraud are the parked sites. Google should DROP these parked sites and a lot of it would stop. We constantly fight off hackers and spammers and what are they, almost 100% of the time, trying to promote...that's right, PARKED DOMAINS with Google Adsense on them...hmmmmm, interesting indeed.
I use adwords and everytime I block one of those darn parked domains another one comes back and it never ends having to go in and block every darn parked site off...sick of it. I have asked Google to allow me to block ALL ads coming from parked domains and they say there is no way...of course.
What do you do? Its almost like Google is a type of "Godfather" and you have to pay a sort of bribe to get ads and run your business...that's what it feels like anyway.
It does not take her all day to do 200 clicks. She is not a genius at a buck an hour or so but how many people can't do math but can click?
Yea, what a pathetic way to earn money for your child, I wonder if she is teaching her child to do this as well? IDIOTIC and she deserves NO respect, no matter her situation...she COULD make her own site, (if she is home and has so much time now) and do something right! I despise her and those like her...trying to be nice here :)
|This is just an obvious attempt by the print media (in decline) to discredit the new media (growing) with horror stories to scare advertisers back into their fold. |
The leading print media are now Web media, too. The WASHINGTON POST runs "Ads by Google."
Instead of questioning the POST's motives, why not pose legitimate questions about the conclusions reached in the story?
Also, whether click fraud is done by stay-at-home moms or clickbots really isn't the issue here. The issue is whether click fraud "threatens [the]foundation of Web ads." I'm inclined to think not, since--like direct mail--cost-per-click advertising allows tracking of results, which means the element of faith isn't as important as, say, with a TV commercial or a newspaper ad. If a campaign is profitable, click fraud may be annoying because the campaign would have been more profitable without it, but a profitable campaign with click fraud still yields more revenue than no campaign at all.
Personally, I think click fraud is less of a problem than the proliferation of junk made-for-AdSense sites, parked-domain sites, etc. on the Web. If there's a general perception that editorial quality on the Web is on a par with those free weekly shopping publications that show up on your doorstep, leads from the "content network" will eventually be worth less, and advertisers will be fighting for (and bidding on) a finite pool of increasingly expensive clicks from Google.com. That obviously won't be good for AdSense publishers or advertisers, but it won't be an unmixed blessing for Google, either.
Some of you may remember a post I did a while back,
I nearly died when I saw clicks coming in from one of these scam companies, I assume their goal was to spam my logs and pick me up as a "member" but still, scary, scary stuff.
>> Personally, I think click fraud is less of a problem than the proliferation of junk made-for-AdSense sites, parked-domain sites, etc. on the Web
Google disagrees with you. If they did not, they'd drive them out of business within a few days. Take the adsense out and you have "made for nothing"--not exactly a good thing to replicate. If MSN and Y! cooperate these sites would be out of business since they would be out of the search engines as well (a quick "Check this" click from the adsense to the spam dept would do).
The headline although exaggerated a bit to get attention is not entirely without merit; if trust is lost and fraud rates increase advertisers are less likely to advertise.
|Google disagrees with you. If they did not, they'd drive them out of business within a few days. |
AdSense is still in version 1.x, so we don't know if Google disagrees or not.
I do think that, at some point, Google will move to create greater differentiation within the content network, so that (for example) advertisers can buy anything from run-of-network-filtered-by-keywords (what exists now) to subsets of the network based on quality scores, types of content, audience behavior tracking, or other factors. AdWords and AdSense aren't just products: they're a platform, so what we see today is likely to be the tip of tomorrow's iceberg.
>> AdSense is still in version 1.x, so we don't know if Google disagrees or not.
Come on now, let's be honest. They might say "Ok we approve of this," but a wink and a nod /not enough action works just as well.
|I am not surprised so many computers are compromised. I can understand spam being sent out, but who exactly benefits from zombie computers clicking on ads? |
Unethical publishers, investors, competitors, etc. Anyone who would make money from increased ad spend who doesn't want the clicking traced back to them.
|This is just an obvious attempt by the print media (in decline) to discredit the new media (growing) with horror stories to scare advertisers back into their fold. |
But the print media companies all have established (and growing) online presences, and are thus just as vulnerable to click fraud as any engine or network. In fact many of them serve up ads from G so it would not be in their best interests to discredit G.
Why mess up your wrist... ...you can always use our old friend,
HttpURLConnection huc =
ByteArrayOutputStream baos =
uis = huc.getInputStream();
Quoting raw Java on WW! You'll scare people...
But in any case, if that was meant to be a recipe for click fraud, you'd want to use an open/anonymising proxy, execute the JS, and actually identify your target and click-through on it. All non-trival, though in the hands of a script-kiddie, of course it can be done (and almost certainly is).
|But the print media companies all have established (and growing) online presences |
but most of them earn just a minimal fraction online of what they can demand from offline advertisers.
compared to online pricing models, ad pricing for print is unjustifiable and exorbitant with hardly measurable performance.
they can get away with it yet, but it's getting harder and harder as even loyal advertisers recognize the loss of readers and the unbeatable advantages of online campaigns.
the decrease of print sales is an existential problem even if some of the old media are well positioned with their online presences.
no traditional subscription base, competitors with the same news and reports only one click away, much less customer loyalty.
how many of you guys are in the range of common mid-sized regional newspapers in terms of unique online visitors? i know i am.
how many print editors can economically be replaced with only one web publisher? how many have to be laid off because adsense doesn't feed all of the staff?
Newspapers don't work the way many Webmasters and outside businesspeople apparently think they do. At least, real newspapers like THE WASHINGTON POST don't work that way: Reporters in the newsroom don't write stories because someone on the business side comes in and says, "Let's run something about Internet click fraud so we can scare advertisers into sticking with print."
It's okay to disagree with the premise of the POST's story, but questioning the reporter's motives (especially while using an alias) strikes me as being unsporting at the very least.
Google's future move to a CPA model from a CPC model will take care of most of the fraud, in my opinion.
>>>Reporters in the newsroom don't write stories because someone on the business side comes in and says, "Let's run something about Internet click fraud so we can scare advertisers into sticking with print.">>>
sure 'bout that?
Sure the Post may run AdSense, but let's compare their AdSense earnings with their overall advertising earnings before claiming their motives for the story are pure as the driven snow.
|Sure the Post may run AdSense, but let's compare their AdSense earnings with their overall advertising earnings before claiming their motives for the story are pure as the driven snow. |
I'm not claiming anything about their motives. I am suggesting that it's unethical to make claims about their motives without supporting evidence. It's also not very smart, and it doesn't get us any closer to an answer to the question of whether "'click fraud' threatens [the] foundation of Web ads."
>>>> sure 'bout that?
Yeah, I'm sure 'bout that at the newspaper I work at. The two departments don't even talk to each other.
If anything, the news division sometimes writes stories that tick off advertisers and they still write them and more.
|Google's future move to a CPA model from a CPC model will take care of most of the fraud, in my opinion. |
google going cpa, now that's breaking news! everytime there is a new discussion about click fraud, people step in and proclaim cpa as the future of online advertising like a mantra.
i tell you what: cpc is the groundbreaking idea of an online ad pricing model that made google the fastest growing and biggest internet company in the world. nearly 100% of googles revenue is generated by this accounting method. without cpc no balance of risk between advertisers and publishers. other advertising forms lack confidence and acceptance on the one or the other side. cpc is the core of googles business. if google would go completely cpa, publishers would flee in masses, because they would be dependent on a few sales once a month with income streams more like a lottery and total dependence on advertiser landing page and product quality, factors he has absolutely no influence on. so that would leave no advertising space on the content side.
cpa a is at least as fraud ridden as cpc. this time with the incentive on the advertiser side to defraud publishers and google (both are affiliates in this case). just one advertiser who cheats his conversions can do massive harm to the whole system, as one action/lead/sale can be worth hundreds or even thousands of clicks. in addition, due to temporal and spacial distortions certain user actions are impossible to be tracked down to their origin and can't be credited to the publisher (i.e. user reverts to the landing page at a later time or buys stuff with another computer without the publisher referrer). cpa will always be only another option, just like cpm. nuff said.. phew.
|in addition, due to temporal and spacial distortions certain user actions are impossible to be tracked down to their origin and can't be credited to the publisher. |
I'm often surprised by the number of people don't understand that CPC ads can be used to generate leads for offline selling, to get invitations to make proposals, or to build long-term relationships--not just to stimulate e-commerce transactions. In the brick-and-mortal world, businesses calculate a "cost per lead." Why would anyone assume that, in the online world, the same businesses would be replace lead generation with a "shopping cart" icon and an "order now" button?
MoTi. I agree that fraud can occur using the CPA model, however, wouldn't this fraud be harder to do and less widespread? I understand that someone with stolen credit cards, etc. could fake transactions and send them to bogus addresses. However, this would be much harder to pull off by the average current click fraudster. Fake leads/ emails could be a problem but there could be some quality control done by the site owner and/or Google to screen these false leads? Affiliate programs today (at least the good one's) are able to deal with fraud in their programs, then why couldn't this be done with Google using a CPA advertising venue?
|but most of them earn just a minimal fraction online of what they can demand from offline advertisers. |
compared to online pricing models, ad pricing for print is unjustifiable and exorbitant with hardly measurable performance. they can get away with it yet, but it's getting harder and harder as even loyal advertisers recognize the loss of readers and the unbeatable advantages of online campaigns.
Over time, they will move more of their operations online as print readership declines, or the cost of maintaining it becomes unjustifiable. This said, it's not in print media's best interests to cast stones at search engines or online ad networks because they will have increasing exposure to online ad fraud.
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