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99% of fraud can be detected because the people doing it aren't to bright. (i've written these detection systems before) The other 1% of cases you can apply statistics to and flag the account for manual review. The only thing i can really see happening is google says you need a minimum number of impressions to join adsense
If clicks go up and conversions don't follow then the price paid per click by the advertiser falls. A look across the range of PPC providers shows huge variations in the price paid for the same keywords, the lower the price the less trust the advertiser has in the probity of the traffic.
Couldn't a "competitor" setup a bot to run Google searches of certain terms and click on Adword ads? How does Google deal with this type of abuse
Yep. That's the hazard of cpc and cpm programs. Not so much cpm because of the low cost but most definately for cpc. And more than likely when this happens it won't be from a competitor but from a kiddie hacker since it's a simple task to do.
Minimum impressions? Does anyone know the number they require?
If you don't have a click in two months, they can cancel your account.
"In addition, Google reserves the right to terminate without notice any account that has not generated any clicks on Ads (as measured by Google) for a period of two (2) months or more. "
Under section 7 - Termination; Cancellation.
I think this could be handled very easily, by disabling any IP adresses, that produced fraudulent clicks, no matter if it was a competitor, or the site owner.
We all hope for this but some still get the email which leads me to believe it won't happen. Spoofing an ip address has been around a lot longer than Google itself has.
Like NFFC said, this is a different beast. This *isn't* adwords, and it *isn't* doubleclick, or even Overture - this is a completely different model to work from. Probably the easiest for fraudsters ever. The most pressing is number 2 I mentioned above.
but wouldn't they leave the same sort of "trail" that a spam bot would and wouldn't Google be able to detect that and filter out those clicks from the legitimate ones
Not always. Spambots really don't care if you see them because they are doing nothing illegal. A well written click bot changes ip and doesn't stay on one site long enough to be caught. Kind like a well written spider. Won't camp out on a site until it finds everything but instead comes back every so often.
Other PPC's deal with it. Why not google? (don't they do fairly well with the normal adwords?)
They are dealing with it, just not to the satisfaction of a small minority of the publishers in the program.
Do you feel fraud will be the downfall of AdSense?
Assume that 1 out of 100 websites has been kicked out. I would be willing to bet you that Google could replace the impressions easily. Wether or not the amount advertisers are willing to pay will be affected negatively, I am not so sure about that. For this to happen, the following would have to occur:
1- Adsense provides a lower quality level of visitor than SERPS adwords.
2- The adword advertiser can track the conversion rate of the adsense visitor appart from the overall adword campaign.
3- Enough advertisers notice a discrepancy and decide to act on it by pulling out of content ads.
I think anytime a company puts together a program with the potential to make a lot of money, you are going to see fraud by some webmasters who look at it as an "easy" way to make money. Think back in the early days of AdSense, there were some publishers who were bragging that they were clicking their own ads and making hundreds of dollars a day. So it was no surprise when a day and a half later, they were booted out of the program. That is blatant fraud.
But the scariest one for publishers is fraud based upon sabotage. That is, a competitor or someone with a grudge deliberately clicking on your AdSense ads, with the sole purpose of getting your site suspended from AdSense. Normally, competitors are not going to click on your AdSense ads, because they don't want to be the reason for you to get ANY revenue because of their actions, even if it is only a few cents. But the danger falls on those competitors who realize the manipulation factor in the AdSense fraud detection.
The key is in the warning email AdSense sends out - it doesn't accuse the publisher of making fraudulent clicks or impressions, but rather, it just states that there WERE fraudulent clicks or impressions, but not stating who/what was responsible for the clicks. And AdSense does have IP stats, so if it was a case of your not-so-smart Competitor A clicking on many of your ads with a single IP address, then logging into his/her own account would leave a potentially trackable IP trail, and a potential flag that you were not responsible for multiple clicks, but rather your Competitor A was. But do they do this? Probably not unless you are showing a single suspicious IP address in your own logs that you think could be at the root of the AdSense fraudulent clicks problem.
So it is back on the publisher who is tagged with a fraudulent click warning, regardless if it is a case of personally clicking on the links to make money, or someone else personally doing so.
Then comes up the issue of click bots. I have no doubt that there are publishers using some kind of sophisticated ones for their own financial gain - that is, using clickbots to click on their own ads.
But clickbots could just as easily be used to knock competitors out of the AdSense market in highly-competitive areas, and also in those never-earned-a-penny-before-AdSense hobby sites that could barely afford hosting - suddenly the nobody hobby site has money to add new features to make the site stickier, and the competitor starts to feel the heat, so they manipulate that hobby sites ability to bring in the AdSense revenue.
I think on a high note though, not that many competitors would have the knowledge or know-how to lodge this kind of clickbot campaign - and probably not that many people are aware that you could potentially knock a competitor out of AdSense by participating in underhanded clicking tactics.
What can Google do? Continue perfecting whatever click fraud mechanisms are in place.
But also they need to consider the role of the AdWords advertisers, who are funding the program in the first place. If Google can't control the fraud in the first place, more and more advertisers are going to opt-out of displaying the content-targeted ads. Niche market advertisers are reporting very good results from AdSense, but more and more advertisers are reporting dismal results from AdSense. These dismal results could be a major turning point for the AdSense program - keeping the advertisers happy, upping their ROI in the AdSense market, and combatting fraud, because many of the advertisers are crying out about fraudulent clicks that they are seeing from the AdSense clicks themselves.
I think AdSense will survive, but I think they really need to put their focus on keeping the AdWords advertisers happy. As more AdWords advertisers inspect their logs to determine their AdSense ROI, more could drop out in the months to come if they don't see any of that traffic converting (it was not an opt-in for AdSense, but rather, each advertiser would have to opt-out).
But to do that, they will have to work on perfecting their fraudulent clicks algo, to lower the "false-positives" and to take into account any potential competitor sabotage.
This might not be settled until there is a great - not good - conversion tool for adwords that advertisers do use. Many will not want to give up that info, but to play you might have to eventually.
If google can track conversion percentage from an individual site and it varies greatly from the norm vs industry average, site average, historical, etc, then they will have another layer of fraud protection. They would then have a couple options. First, give adwords advertisers option to opt out of certain publisher's site or offer a lower cpc to them, or if a publisher is way below the average, ding their cpc accordingly. it's a logistical nightmare, but it can be done.
Once it's to a conversion level, you are dealing with more of an affiliate model, but isn't that what this about anyway? You'll get paid for exactly how valuable a visitor you bring to their site.
I think adsense is here to stay in some form or another
The reason for such clicking could be:
1) To run up the advertiser's costs, thereby hurting the advertiser's bottom line.
2) To exhaust the advertiser's account quickly, thereby depriving the advertiser of legitimate leads.
3) To exhaust the advertiser's account so that the competitor's ad moves up in the AdWords/AdSense rankings.
4) To punish an advertiser (e.g., if the clicker is a dissatisfied customer who has a grudge against the advertiser).
Such clicking to harm advertisers isn't exclusive to AdSense; it's just as likely to happen with search ads. Indeed, it may be more likely to happen with search ads, since it's easier for an advertiser's competitor or a disgruntled ex-customer to find an ad for Widgets R Us by searching on relevant keywords than by scouring a plethora of content sites.
I don't think anyone has. From the outset Brett has publically stated his scepticism of AdSense. I think he is wrong, but it will be a while before anyone knows the long term future of Adsense
In the end whether Google are making a decent profit on the operation will determine whether or not it continues, and in what form.
From a personal point of view my CPCs and CPMs are holding up well. In particular CPC has moved in a narrow band over the last 2 months, so it would appear that there is no mass dropping of context adverts by publishers (at least not in my market. And figures have been a lot higher than Brett initially speculated.
Whilst "fraudulent" clicks have been a problem, it is very difficult for anyone reading this board to know exactly how big a problem - quite naturally there will not be daily posts from people saying that they have NOT been banned by Google. My feeling early on was that Google would have to eventually do some sort of filtering based on volume (one way or the other). They cannot afford the people time in examing click problems on low volume sites, and may well be shooting from the hip to eliminate sites that are low volume and present click problems.
You just do month end chargebacks.
Manually disabling accounts simply means there is not enough fraud control built into the whole system.
[edited by: john316 at 6:00 pm (utc) on Oct. 3, 2003]
- 2) by competitors running click bots to cause a person to get kicked out of the program.
Then if google can see that a certain IP address is abusing the system they can ban it.
That leaves the fraudsters that will try to hurt the competition AND have a spoof IP address for every click.
Surely that will be only 0.01%ish? of adsense clicks which is probably on the same level of any other fraud attempt at any other advertising option on the internet.
If people are going to hurt the advertiser by clicking on there ads and run there budget out quickly etc. surely it would be quicker for them to do that on the google searches where they know they show up rather than searching through related sites just in case a site has their advert on!?
But the scariest one for publishers is fraud based upon sabotage. That is, a competitor or someone with a grudge deliberately clicking on your AdSense ads, with the sole purpose of getting your site suspended from AdSense.....
Has anyone else besides me held his/her tounge in this board or any other that they might frequent in order to avoid upsetting someone into going to your site and clicking away just to get you kicked out?
I have to admit that I have read posts about people getting kicked out for doing something clearly in the wrong, and I have not typed a response out of fear of getting this kind of retaliation.
I have all my trust in google, and why not? We can't do anything about Google, sure we can suggest things they read the forum but they are the ones who decide what to put in place, and with all due respect I think they probably have a lot more knowledge on the subject than you guys! Worrying is like a rocking chair it gives you something to do but it won't get you anywhere.
So I suggest you all go and relax :) Sure this is big money some of you are earning and the earnings I have are great too, if adsense does fail and you lose everything that is your fault for putting all your eggs into one basket, keep your options open because you never know when you'll be on the way down and they'll be on the way up.
I also think it raises a good point about having your URL as your nickname, or your URL in a profile in a forum such as this, especially when there is a number of members who are quite bitter about being suspended from AdSense.
But would they ever take action against a fellow member? Hard to say if anyone would do it, but I know someone brought up exactly that point a month or so ago, about how easy it would be to do just that to another member here, whose URL and nickname were the same. And as far as I am aware, nothing came of it.
Scary? Certainly. But I don't think competitor sabotage is actually occurring very frequently. We also have to consider that those who have been suspended from AdSense tend to be very vocal about it. For every one complaint we hear about it here, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of publishers happily and quietly making their money from AdSense. I don't think fraud is as prevelant as this forum may make it appear, simply because many use it as an outlet to do the "I got suspended from AdSense...." complaint. But it does exist, and the possibility for sabotage is real, even if it is not likely.