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Let's play "Is it click fraud?"



3:14 pm on Jan 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have a particular situation where I think there might be some click fraud going on. Overture says no, Normal activity. I'm looking at it and it looks a little, no, VERY fishy to me. I have never run into a serious case of click fraud so I am looking for another opinion.

And for the record, I am having my logs pulled, so I will know by this afternoon if I am right or Overture is right.

I have a keyword group that looks a little like this...

the widget
wid get

Now all of these phrases have seen minimal traffic from either overture or adwords. But it makes enough sales to keep it profitable.

"widget" normally gets the traffic, which makes sense because people just don't type in the word "the" when searching.

Right after xmas, the keyword phrase "the widget" went to the #1 spot from #5. My clicks went from about 1 a day to over 60 a day with no increase in sales and once a week, never on the same day, clicks drop off to 1 again.

The same ad on adwords has seen no increase in impressions and actually has less impressions for the whole keyword group than I am getting clicks for this one lone keyword on overture. The other keywords in the keyword group on overture also showed no increase in clicks.

I called Overture about it and get back a condecending email about how the increase is due to the #1 spot and is "normal" traffic and how if I was using a tracking URL I would know this (which if they had bothered to look at my URL they would see that I do have a tracking URL)

Anyway, the question is, am I nuts here? This is a pretty blantent click fraud, right? I suppose I will know this afternoon but I just wanted to know if I was off, as I am new to this.

jeremy goodrich

5:57 pm on Jan 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jeremy_goodrich is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Check your logs -> I'd also recommend, in addition to the tracking url like http //www.widgets-url-here.com/?source=overture

that you use a persistant cookie on each visitor that comes through -> log it to a database. Then, for a returning visitor, check for the cookie...perhaps give the cookie an ID of 'searchterm' concatenated? Or similar.

And then, you'll be able to do up a quick and dirty report on visitors, repeats, etc. from Overture...that should help immensly in your analysis to see if the clicks are legitimate or not.

Also, if they are 'fraud' they more than likely may only get 1 page view in...see the % of these 'possibly fraud clicks' that are 1 hit wonders / compare that with the number of 1 hit wonders from the other terms.

That should get you started to better ROI and easier analysis of your campaigns.



6:51 pm on Jan 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

We already use temporary cookies that stay with them as long as they have the browser open, and the repeat visitors to that page per browser session is the info I am waiting for. We are only now moving towards long term cookies (PTB ethics thing prior to that), so perhaps I will ask them to work something in like that in. A quick report for emergencies.

This is the first time in nearly a year I have seen anything like this on PPC. I know it happens and had been keeping an eye out for it on my really profitable ads. This one is just stupid because the product just doesn't sell that well. What was the point? And why on the one term that barely gets any traffic anyway?


10:44 am on Jan 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

no real idea what's going on, but it could be that 60 clicks a day is normal for 1st place and you have a competitor that is bumping his PPC listings once a week which leaves you with just one click for that day. i've seen some people do some strange things ...


11:34 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Were you ever able to determine the problem?

I have been advertising on Overture for years and a simple move from 1st to 2nd position can cut my traffic in half. It might not be out of the question that your traffic increased so much due to the fact that your listing was among the first three so it was showing up on other search properties like MSN.


11:56 pm on Jan 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

But the once a week thing is weird.

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