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I contacted them about click fraud and they took my account offline whilst they investigated. Haven't heard back yet. Not too bothered considering FindWhat costs are about 5% of my advertising spend, and the traffic isn't exactly top quality.
The account went offline when I notified them, but I don't think I'll bother putting it back online. Not since reading what you guys think of them anyway.
Nope, the factor that causes most people to want to share with the world in this format is a negative experience (Ranting and Venting). Postitive feedback usually goes into the form of Blogs and comments on news stories.
If it looks like a click farm, and smells like a click farm...
We are ready to pull out completely for life.
Sad to see a company that used to be solid fall so far.
Kanoodle = Findwhat = Looksmart
Stick a fork in all of them.
Google is great
AOL is getting there
High hopes for MSN
FindWhat - always very concerned about click fraud, as I never get results even close to that of google or aol
i know the FW team very well, and they are a great bunch
but somethig is up in their system, and I just cannot put my finger on it
I made a real but simple new website ... "index.php", "main.css", "logo.gif", and "favicon.ico". It was completely operational and included a series of real affiliate image links with traffic-tracking GIF pixels.
Obviously, it wasn't known to the the search engines, and wasn't linked from any other site. So for all intents and purposes, I was the only one who knew it existed.
I created a new Kanoodle account, created a series of high-demand keywords pointing to the site, waited for them to review the site and approve my links.
Then, I threw $50 at it. As expected, the money was drained in just a couple of hours. I analyzed the logs, and this is what I found:
The mechanized traffic was easy to spot, since all that was touched was "index.php". Not the stylesheet and not the logo. Some real humans may have images disabled, but virtually everyone (except a very small percentage that might be using text-based browser) would have read the external stylesheet.
Also, sort it by referred and you could see certain "referrers" generating nothing but mechanized traffic. Then, sort it by IP address address and you could see a specific subnet that kept hitting the site from multiple IP addresses over and over again.
I slogged through thousands of hits, separated what appeared to be human hits from the mechanized hits, added them up and found:
* 89% of Kanoodle traffic was mechanized. *
I repeated the test with MIVA:
* 54% of MIVA traffic was mechanized. *
Now we can begin the endless debate about how some of what appeared to be mechanized traffic may have been real, or it might have just been ill-behaving search-bots, or whatever ... and how some of the human traffic might have just been more cleverly-designed click-bots.
But the bottom line is this ... none of this mechanized traffic ... that I was paying for at 5 to 15 cents a click ... generated a single ad impression, much less a click-through. I got billed for every one of these clicks.
I want to test some others, but can only afford to throw away so many $50 bills at a time. Perhaps someone else wants to do this and share the results? If Kanoodle or Miva give me a refund (what are the odds?), I can do a few more.
If you are active in PPC advertising, do yourself a favor, spend a little money, do a test like this, and get some real data you can digest and analyze easily. That way it won't be vague impressions or other's opinions anymore. You can see how bad things are for yourself.
You can also see very easily from a test like this who the "click farms" that Kanoodle works with are. Folks like:
And quite a few others. All of these "referrers" were clearly doing nothing but generating tons of mechanized hits to my site.
For Miva, there was really only one main "click farm" hitter, which was:
Also on Miva, the subnet that just kept hammering the site, rotating through about 20 IPs was:
y[/b]: udaman2 at 5:07 am (utc) on June 16, 2005][/1]
[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 10:50 am (utc) on June 16, 2005]
[edit reason] leave the specifics out please [/edit]
udaman2, Will you Give me the url to your test page?
I'll pay the small cost for this, and hit your page with 100 hits or so, and ask you to analyze it for me.?
We're Looking for Time Of Visit! That's the Problem I'm Having. They ALL, show up in my tracking system as having Stayed 0 Seconds, but I Know for a Fact this is incorrect.
Will you let me hit it with some hits, and tell me what you See?
-I'll be sending you traffic from a small paid-to-read-email site.
-ALL the hits, Will have the Identical Referring url.
***Your Page, will come in to them, Framed Inside of a php script_runner, that Houses the Timer. They HAVE to Stay, until that Timer Expires, to get Paid by the program.
***But it Don't Work, lol. They ALL Show up as having Stayed 0 Seconds, and this is Simply NOT Correct.
***They '''APPEAR''' As Bots in tracking systems, but are NOT, they are people Staring at the page, 15 to 30 seconds, but it Does not show up as that.
I Write this off to that danged php Script_runner the page is framed underneath of, but don't understand this stuff enough to get an accurate time of visit?
willing to give it a shot for me?
Let me know please.
I'm Currently just using a free online tracking system, Which I Luv, lol:
-Gives me time of the hit:
-Gives me the ip of the visitors:
-Gives me the number of visits per ip:
-Gives me the referring url:
Couple of sorting options, including 'by ref'ing url'
But ALL, the ptr traffic I Sent IT, and Other systems I've tried in the past, Show up as Having Stayed 0.00 or 0 Seconds. This IS, Incorrect...
BOTS, Are Every Bit as Big a Problem, in the paid to read biz, as they are in PPC, and these php Scripts are Practically Bullet Proof to them. They Are Not Bots, they are peeps staring down the page for from 15 to 30 Seconds, while the timer expires, at which time the site-server sends a trigger to the Script_runner, to give the 'you've been paid' message to the Top Frame, at which time the member can Close the Browser window, and move on to their Next email.
Occationally, one of these visits appears as having stayed Some Time Period, but 90+% of them, show up as having stayed for the glorious 0 Seconds, Virtually Protraying them as Bots!
Have a look at if for me? Or could you just tell me HOW to track this traffic Accurately, without spending an arm and a leg for purchased software.?
thanks for any input/help, I'm seeing appx 1,000 per week of these right now, and frankly, it's annoying, lol, to see all those loooooong list of 0.00 Knowing, that's simply Not the Actual Case.
***The Visit, 'In the Top Frame', Which has the Browser 'focus', IS, 'Mechanical', in that it is the Site Server, in the form of an Executed php Script!
***The Visit, 'In the Bottom Frame', Which does Not have the Browser 'focus', IS 'Human', and Forced to Stay for the Duration of the timer, usually from 15 to 30 seconds, depending on the site and the cost of the ad.
***While the Human Visit is taking Place, the Mechanical Visit is Also taking place, and THEREIN, I Believe,? Lies the flaw in this slaw.?
sorry if this is inappropriate for this board, it's a Tracking Issue, and one that has troubled me for a long time. thanks for any input.
Seems it won't log the visit length, unless Two pages were visited. that's the only way it can tell how long someone was there, by 'comparison', so My Error here, sorry. Guess I've got to go tracker shopping...
From my brief conversations with the PPC companies, they are telling me that they can and will control their partners. They told me they can get rid of the foreign traffic they are bringing to my site, they can ban specific domains or IP addresses from hitting my site, etc., just by my asking them to do it.
[Forgetting for a moment that the fact that they aren't *ALREADY* doing this is evidence of how corrupt they are ... they know who's running click-bots and who isn't.]
What we need is a PPC blacklist. Just from my brief tests, I can give you perhaps 20 domains and several IP subnets that I definitely don't want to ever touch my site. Other websites targeting other keywords will have different lists ... if you throw them all together, you come up with something like the SPAM blacklists.
If the PPC companies I spoke with will actually let me give them this list like this along with an agreement that they won't be allowed to touch my site, and I won't pay for the clicks if they do, then my comfort level starts to rise.
If the PPC companies really will let me have this level of control over the traffic ... then all I need is to find some buddies like you guys to share the fraud sites they are seeing on their sites, and I start to see this whole industry in a brighter light.
If I want to play very agressively, I will just add every domain with even a suggestion of impropriety to my list. But, if I think I might lose too much real business along the way, I GET TO DECIDE who I let back in. Actually, if I get it right, my conversions won't change by one nickel! But my wasted web traffic and PPC bills will go way down.
Now, let's be completely silly here, and pretend that there are some honest and ethical PPC companies out there that really want to clean up this business. Those companies would want to support such an idea.
[Leaving Candyland and returning to reality now]
Of course, if we all did this, the PPC companies won't like it a bit, since they actually make a ton of money off of the fraud. So what if a handful of us actually check our logs and try to get reimbursed ... they're banking on the fact that most don't have the time or the skills, or better yet ... they are making enough money that they are willing to just overlook it.
But first things first ... do any of you have any experience with talking to the PPC companies and getting them to ban specific domains or IPs from your site? If they will actually do this, then there is a place to start.
The real problem is that these companies let the most unscrupulous of partners into their networks and then expect YOU to do the homework and uncover them. It's dishonest and unethical. Period. It's only a matter of time before these companies dig themselves a grave so deep that they'll never see the light of day. Look at looksmart. The resemblance is uncanny. Both of these companies Findwhat/Miva and Kanoodle.
I would get out while you can. And if your not in, I suggest you stay away.
If a PPC blacklist existed and was aware of all the domains I saw in my test ... and even if there were a some new ones ... and some of the ones on the list had opened up shop under a new name ... it still might have saved between $10 and $30 of the $50 I spent that day.
Multiply that by all the advertisers ... most of them much bigger than me ... and it still could save some serious advertising money. It may not put the click-farms out of business ... but they would be stealing someone else's money, not mine.
But I would still like some feedback about whether Kanoodle and the like will honor our requests to ban domains and IP subnets from our sites like this.
[edited by: seth_wilde at 10:37 pm (utc) on June 16, 2005]
[edit reason] no urls please [/edit]