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suspicious referrerers - fake traffic?

noise traffic filling logs

7:25 pm on Aug 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

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One of my clients just placed an ad on a site that uses <snip> to serve ads/images.

The advertised-on site doesn't have the correct link set up yet (so none of their viewers can click on our ad and arrive at our site!), but we're already seeing large amounts of traffic with imgserv.<snip>.com as the referrer. Currently, one hit every minute or two ("large" is relative).

Every hit is for the home page, and the images on the home page are NEVER requested. Hits come from hundreds of different addresses, apparently from many different browsers and versions.

My first thought was that this was <snip>'s way of keeping linked ads "fresh" -- if the site went down, they'd remove the ad from rotation. (but why every two minutes, why from hundreds of different addresses, and why spoof the client type?)

I'm *highly suspicious* that this is something more deceptive. The obvious would be a click-thru inflater robot, and not a very well-designed one.

Has anyone else seen anything like this? Would you suspect <snip> or the advertised-on site? Is there *any* realistic chance that it could be an accident (or misconfig) somewhere?

Thanks for your thoughts.

[edited by: eljefe3 at 4:46 am (utc) on Sep. 1, 2004]

11:19 pm on Aug 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Answering my own question..

Yes, there is a realistic chance that it's a misconfig somewhere.

"Never attribute to malice that which can be equally explained by ignorance."

Interesting layers of interaction to unravel. But a simple error at the root of it. Still not fixed, but at least identified. :-)

12:05 am on Sept 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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There are fake hits generators available.

[edited by: eljefe3 at 4:47 am (utc) on Sep. 1, 2004]

4:51 am on Sept 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I believe that a lot of the 2nd tier PPC and advertising banner programs pay out $$ to "affiliates" who run bots and get paid for these fake hits. I see in my referrer logs a lot of bots that only call the index page and never call any of the images on the page. This is a giveaway to a badly written bot. Amazingly enough my logs also tell me which affiliate from whatever program is running the bots as the referrer string has the affiliate id in them.

Too bad these 2nd tier PPC and banner programs never want to be held accountable ( at least the ones that keep hitting my sites).


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