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Overture Click Fraud Investigation

Are they really doing anything?

     
5:23 pm on Jul 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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About 2 months ago I noticed that one of my OV campaigns, whilst still making reasonable ROI, wasgoing through money much faster than the same keyword set on Adwords and Espotting (UK market).

So, thinking logically, I reduced the OV keyword list to just those showing as "strong" CTR on Adwords. For the next few days the spending returned to an acceptable level, then went through the roof again.

At the same time, the original bigger keyword list was still costing a reasonable amount on the G and ES services. The jump was unreal. For example..

Day 1 G=12.44
ES=17.56
OV=25.52

Day 2 G=15.80
ES=12.22
OV=48.95

Day 3 G=12.55
ES=15.74
OV=98.85

Day 4 G=13.12
ES=14.88
OV=134.99!

The OV CTR for these high spending days was a mere 89.9%!

So I call them - they ask me to put it all in writing by email, which I do, and they say it will take around 5 days. I continue spending on the account to this day, because even WITH the click fraud the ROI is still worth it.

I call a week later - it can take a while, please be patient.

I call 2 weeks later - it's been sent to our "secure" team in the US, please be patient

Week 3 - ditto

Week 4 - A senior investigator has taken over the file, it won't be much longer.

Week 5 - please be patient, it won't be much longer.

It sounds to me like these guys are reading from a list of excuses. So, my question..

Has anyone here had any personal experience of this type of problem, either in the UK or the US, and did it eventually get resolved to your satisfaction?

And is there anything I can possibly do to speed things up?

8:50 pm on July 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Fraud investigations do seem to take a really long time.. and the amount of time seems to vary depending on your monthly spend.. Best thing you can do is to keep phoning them every week until you get a real response..
9:30 pm on July 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yep, the numbers you're reporting are small potatoes!

You just need to stay on top of them and not let it slide.

10:55 am on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I just had a look through my stats and can see that during the space of 1 minute I got 12 clicks on one keyword (which normally gets about 3 clicks a week).

I will be keeping a close eye on this and future billing.

As an aside, does anyone know whether or not Overture keeps IP addresses of who clicks what? My IP logs only show the visitor as Overture itself and when I asked an Ov rep they were very sheepish to answer the question.

2:26 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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They really only look into things for clients spending upwards of $25k per month. And don't be afraid to 'muscle' them. Let them know how much you spend and that a credit of a couple hundred dollars is small potatoes and not worth squabbling over. Works every time for me.
3:39 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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They have investigated click fraud for me in the under 5k a month category. I got burned by a bot one weekend and exhausted my monthly budget in 2 days - weekend of course.

I threatened to pull a few other accounts if they did not look into it. I also gave them proof, by submitting statistics proving that all of these clicks did not stay on the page at all.

Have they asked you for your log files yet?

5:43 pm on July 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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instead of calling weekly, do it daily. get someone's name or an extension that can be held accountable (yes, easier said than done).
9:41 am on July 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

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They really only look into things for clients spending upwards of $25k per month

This is NOT true.

Overture, will look into cases of fraud what ever the spend is.

Please do NOT post stuff which you think may be true but have no facts about.

Shak

4:20 pm on July 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Ok sure ask them to look into it what do I care?

Danno2

9:15 pm on July 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have asked Overture to investigate "click fraud" 3 different times. The comment about needing to spend over $25,000 per month may be true... I only spend about $1000 a month.

I have not been satisfied with their responses. I keep getting the form letter about how "sophisticated" their software is.

I have identified several IP Addresses that are clicking me on a regular basis, and not even looking at any of my pages. This seems like a slam dunk to analyze.

However, I am noticing a lot of clicks from different IP Address "on the same server" that only go to my main page, i.e. click on me, but don't look at any of the details.

Are any of you aware of any "organized fraud" efforts to use up a competitor's budget. I can't prove it, but this seems to be what is happening.

As I have moved up to be #1 or #2 for certain phrases, e.g. "big bear cabins", I am noticing that my ratio of "phone calls per click" is going down... and this is the ratio I really care about.

Any information on "organized fraud" groups?

9:08 am on July 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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if it really was organised fraud and if such big budgets are involved, would they not take measures to hide and/or vary their IP's? or even carry out fake visits to your pages?

because not doing it is really setting themselves up to be busted

9:18 am on July 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have asked Overture to investigate "click fraud" 3 different times. The comment about needing to spend over $25,000 per month may be true... I only spend about $1000 a month.

That $25k thing is something I really don't want to see proliferating from this thread - let me reiterate what Shak said - that is complete bull***t.

Overture has a vested interest in their advertisers trusting their reporting and their system - if people cease to trust them then they will eventually have no clients. The press it all over click fraud at the moment and the PPC engines are worried - so don't think that they don't take it seriously - they do.

11:15 pm on July 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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They have always taken it seriously, regardless of the size of the budget.

They prefer to call it click spam. I had the pleasure of talking to the person fronting up the team responsible, and they are very busy, as you can imagine, search is pushing the boundaries and there will always be those pushing them for ill gotten gain, which will get caught, it's just important to understand it's not a simple case of looking at IP addresses.

We've had many unrequested refunds, as well as some where the dossier of evidence put before the supplier has been sufficient to satisfy the request.

Getting a refund is only a small part of our wishes. Ultimately the success of search will be ROI, which means that all forms of wastage need to be addressed. I'll wager more of your money is wasted in poor campaigns than is "stolen" in click spam more often than not.

If it's a rogue publisher, we want them out, and the only way to get that is to work WITH the suppliers, and not scaremonger based on subjectivity.

If this were a court, the cases would mostly get thrown out. Yes some click spam will slip through the system, but most will get picked up at some point.

8:09 pm on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've been statistical process engineer and I'm always amused how some fields are so retarded : there are techniques to detect outliers so why don't they put some procedure for guaranting the clients that such case would be discarded from their budget account? I mean it's too easy to pretend to have the best technology and will, it ressembles much politician promises.

Who are they recruiting? Is there any PHD in their team or what?

8:13 pm on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Here's one part of the big picture...

CPC Clickers in India [webmasterworld.com]

 

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