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Part 1: Poll
1. Will the above problems eventually kill the adsense program?
2. Will the problems maim adsense (by eliminating ubiquitous adsense sites. Only high quality sites to be allowed)?
3. Will Google find automated methods to keep it alive?
4. Will the problems grow but Google will still keep the program running more or less the same way?
My Vote: 2.
Part 2: Discussion
What should Google do about all this?
It will be interesting to see what happens over the next year or so. One thing you can be sure of is that there will be much more effort going into finding a solution to this than there is for their sandbox problem :)
I don't think that there is any doubt that Adsense works for webmasters, Google and the advertisers but click fraud is clearly a serious threat to its existence.
No more than click fraud is a threat to PPC programs in general, as Google's CFO has pointed out. (He cited the example of fraudulent clicks by advertisers' competitors--and that kind of fraud is probably a lot harder to detect or punish than click fraud by publishers, which could be cut drastically just by tightening up the program's quality standards.)
I think AdSense is stronger than ever. In a press release about a month ago Google stated that they currently have 230,000 advertisers and they expect that to rise to 650,000 by 2008.
Google knew about the extent of click fraud long before the general public. Despite that knowledge they still made that bold statement.
My quess is that for every disgruntled advertiser that leaves 2 more join.
The Advertisers may know they are being overcharged because of click fraud, but, right now most of them don't care.
Although this may seem absurd, it really isn't, and Google knows it!
Click fraud will not bring Google or AdSence down, competition for market share will......and, that is Google's biggest fear!
I vote for two as well. If I were a stockholder or even potential stockholder, increased reporting of click fraud would unsettle me in my attitude re: google since ppc is their business model.
If I were an analyst for google, right now I'd be running projections as when it might become feasible to start weeding out existing adsense sites, and more selectively screening new account applications.
As efv pointed out in another thread, there is the issue of how to move existing ad inventory and projected increases in ad inventory, so maybe this ties their hands for some time. But at some point, I would think, they have to weed.
Google has very sophisticated clickfraud measures.
I'm not suggesting that they do, but their anti fruad could be similar to the above. No-one knows other than G for sure and they certainly aren't going to tell us.
1. G has data from G toolbar and can measure statistically number of real visitors to any page. Just like alexa does, and they can buy data from alexa(amazon) as well.
3. G can estimate number of clicks coming to any page from G itself.
4. G has conversion data from many advertisers.
5. G also has trivial stats for impression/clicks for ads.
6. G has statistical metrics for all data they can get their hands on.
7. G has searching history of many (even if not identified to human beings but definately matched to broser signatures)
8. G has emails of many people.
9. G stores stats for long period of time and can see the large picture and can see the patterns.
10. G knows which IP's belong to proxies
11. G knows % of searches generated by any IP/browser signature comparing to whoole Internet (statistically).
123. I am sure I forgot to mention something...
G has loads of data. Actually, even way too much data, much more than any sigle entity should be alowed to have IMO.
Anytime any statistic spikes against any average in favor of a publisher the account gets flagged for manual review. An experienced human investigator having all the mentioned above data at his disposal will catch the fraud.
One perhaps can do click fraus small time like for a few $ per day or per month depending on how big his honest clicks are. But there is no doubt that click fraud in any significant amount will be caugth by G for sure and rather sooner than later.
I, personally, even leaving ethicall issues aside, would not be able to develop software which would be able to do click fraud against G in any reasonably significant way without being caught. Which means (me the modest) that it is most likely impossible. It is only in movies like swordfish someone can say something like "ohh 1024 bit encription yadayada... there is nothing impossible".. real world does not work like that...
I also think that the reason why G ignored threats of that blackmiling developer of fraud software and suied him out of ixistance is not G's bravery, but the fact that that moron actually only thought that he has developed something what google shall be afraid of.
And in conclusion a peace of advise to those who want to scam G for thousands having 1$/day making account. THINK TWICE.
Those who make thousands honestly surely can scam G for a few $ without being caught. But does it worth it? Don't you think that self-respect and your honest name worth more than a few bucks?
Google might just throw x % of people out at random every month and y% of people who have been reported to them. Then it would be easy to state "we are of top of everything we have ...."
You really believe this? You have to remember that every single publisher is a cash cow for Google. They have as much stake here as the publisher. If they remove publishers indiscriminately without reason, then they are removing a source of income.
Google has a very good reputation when it comes to research and technical prowess. Comparing Yahoo and G side by side shows that G plows more income back into research compared to Y's preference for marketing. I'm sure they will protect their biggest source of income like there's no tomorrow with the establishment of systems that can prevent fraud and ensure the trust of their advertisers, stockholders and publishers.
In reply to the poster above you, can G have too much info? Can their processing of that info be muddled?
I am against click fraud as much as anyone, it is simply theft, pure and simple.
However (and perhaps my thinking is jaundiced here) I do believe some people are thrown out of adsense who HAVEN'T committed any crime. In a lot of the other threads I notice the viewpoint is hardening with WebmasterWorld posters. We appear to be back to the view that everyone is guilty and that G is infallible.
I would happily have let ANYONE (especially here) or anyone at G look at ANY part of my site/logs/IP's/stats if they would have told me what I was guilty of.
However, I am lucky in that I have moved on, actually I am probably more lucky as I am now making 4 times with a rival(starts with an A) than what I was with G. I just wonder how many others haven't been as lucky or don't have any alternatives as not every rival has the same geographical spread as G.
To put this firmly back on topic I wonder if serious rivals emerge for G what their response would be to:
a publisher EASILY banning IP addresses(including their own)
showing what PAGE earned the click through (rather than channels)
In reply to the poster above you, can G have too much info? Can their processing of that info be muddled?
Yes - me! What will 160 or so PhD do all day except to play around with the information? Sure, there will always be learning curve. A year and a half into the game, though, I'm sure that they have started to finetune their methods and working to continuously improve it.
They cannot NOT work hard on preventing click fraud, or at least minimize it. Their biggest revenue source depends on it.
As to your getting banned, we've heard ad nauseum your protestations of innocence and how good the other network is. Good for you that you have moved on. But that is not the issue at hand.
No I didn't say that I believed it. What I was saying is that NO-ONE except G knows how good or bad their click fraud detection is.
Of course. And that's as it should be. (Target, Wal-Mart, Tesco, Harrods, and your local bank keep the details of their antitheft measures a secret, too.)
I agree that it's scary what info Google has. They know things about your site that you'll never know. It's not disputed that they have the means to put their stats PhDs to good use. Do they do it? Yes, we've seen evidence. In threads of Adsense bans it often turned out that there was in fact a violation of TOS, even if inadvertent. Occasionally there is a case where the poster never accepts that he was at fault in any way. This is understandable as it's possible the fraudulent clicks happened outside of his knowledge (even by an advertiser depleting a competitor's ad budget). The fact that Google doesn't shed any light on the reasons does make it harder to accept the ban if you believe you've done no wrong. But, I can't see a logic in Google banning people at random when they have sophisticated tools on which to base the bans.
The general fear about getting the dreaded "fraudulent click email" seems to have abated substantially since the early days.
Occasionally there is a case where the poster never accepts that he was at fault in any way. This is understandable as it's possible the fraudulent clicks happened outside of his knowledge (even by an advertiser depleting a competitor's ad budget). The fact that Google doesn't shed any light on the reasons does make it harder to accept the ban if you believe you've done no wrong.
True, but Google may feel that it isn't worth getting to a time-consuming dialogue with a publisher whose account has been disabled--especially after reading Webmaster World threads like the ones below. :-)
Just as important, there may be legal reasons for not going into detail about why the relationship is being terminated. By not accusing the publisher directly of fraud, Google may be less vulnerable to lawsuits and subpoenas that could lead to disclosure of its fraud-detection methods. (Indeed, I'm almost surprised that Google reveals anything at all: The more conservative approach might be to simply say, "We've decided to terminate our mutually cancellable contract" and leave things at that.)
Yes - me!. Yes me in relation to what?
As to your other remarks. Hope you never get banned. Wouldn't like to have my mantle as chief "bleater" removed.
As I also said, the topic is about what will G do in relation to challenges. What will it do if a serious contender emerges. Obviously MANY of this board would never leave adsense because it is so great. But consider: serious contender, paying similar or better (and before anyone picks up on this single point it is dependent on what topic area you are in) to G. Offers direct deposit, OR ability to ban IP for a non programmer, or some other "benfit". What are the publishers going to do and what will G's response be?
Or at least I hope so -- I'd hate to think of option 1, or even option 4 for that matter.
As for part 2, I think they are already doing the right things, and that the problem is being addressed.
The greater question is if publishers will be prepared to survive if adsense doesn't.
The Web had plenty of publishers before AdSense came along. "Made for AdSense" sites would certainly take a hit, though. :-)
Advertisers are aware of all these, and many more, liabilities but the nature of business is to balance risks vs. gain while knowing that without risk there is no gain.
AdSense offers small advertisers powerful geo and topic targeting that is pretty hard to beat. Usage of AdSense is certain to grow as the Web becomes increasingly localized throughout the world. As an AdSense publisher, AdWords client and Google stockholder, I'm confident that Google will manage the fraud problem adequately, if not perfectly, and that the program will continue to do well for both publishers and advertisers and, therefore, for stockholders.
AdSense offers small advertisers powerful geo and topic targeting that is pretty hard to beat.
Big advertisers, too. (In just the past few days, I've seen ads for three major cruise lines on my site.) If Google can give more control to advertisers and clean up "scraper sites" and other dross, the number of mainstream corporate advertisers is bound to increase--especially if using AdSense remains cheaper than using targeted direct mail.
i believe that as the ppc model develops and matures, then click fraud will be seen rather as shoplifting is by store owners ... an unfortunate but inevitable consiquence of business, that needs to be minimised but cannot be eradicated. we will work with it as best we can.
the alternatives are worse than ppc, banner impression fraud (for want of a better way of putting it) was rife when banners were king.
compared to the way some companies are ripped off with print advertising rates then i believe click fraud to be a small problem, no more.