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Reporting click fraud to Google AdSense

If you know a publisher guilty of invalid clicks...

     
6:33 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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



I have been asked to announce a new reporting feature AdSense has just introduced - similar to the "spamreport" [webmasterworld.com] feature that Matt Cutts announced at the conference last month. This one, however, is specifically targeting click fraud, and the information goes to the AdSense click fraud team.

If you know a publisher engaging in click fraud and generating invalid clicks, you can now report the publisher by going to his or her site, clicking on the "Ads by Google" and including "invalid clicks" in the comment field. You can remain anonymous, or include your email address when you submit it.

Google is specifically targeting invalid clicks, such as click bots, click rings, "hired to click", etc.

Advertisers who track fraudulently generated clicks to a single publisher should also be able to report this way (although you should also go through the AdWords report method as well).

It will be interesting to see if there will be an increase in "my AdSense account just got suspended for invalid clicks" over the next couple of months... just what we need more of in this forum ;)

7:28 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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



If you know a publisher engaging in click fraud and generating invalid clicks ...

Jenstar how would we know this?

7:34 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Does this cover websites that put 'Please click here' signs beside the G ads? If so, then G will have its hands full...
8:15 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Does this cover websites that put 'Please click here' signs beside the G ads?

I hope it *only* includes those sites, or this is going to turn into a witch hunt with competitors sabotaging competitors left and right.

8:37 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



There are many ways of generating invalid clicks and JenStar's post covers all of them.

- Bots,
- Hired "employers",
- Building a network to click each others ads,
- Requesting visitors to click on the ads directly,
- Indirectly telling people that they can find more info on advertised sites,
- Indicating the ads with arrows or similar visuals
- Placing ads on pages with only several sentences of content(huge websites maybe exception to this because of the uncontrollable number of pages. The percent of good pages to bads is the key),
- Modifying the codes more than you're allowed and affecting the functionality of the scripts,
- Hiding the "ads by gooogle" text with layers,

These are what I came up with for now!

8:40 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



smacks of desperation from Google to me. They are admitting they are unable to police the system themselves.

Why allow people to remain anonymous - surely this is asking for as much abuse as it is encouraging people who wouldn't want to be seen pointing the finger.

Not sure about this - but if it helps lower click fraud then...

8:54 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Hi,

I wrote to Google explicitly asking them to confirm their position:


I don't want to either (a) loose AdSense revenue when advertisers give up
on the "Content" network, or (b) have the effectiveness of my small
AdWords spend diluted needlessly, so please would someone with authority
to do something for (a) and (b) and, (c) a strong reputational risk to
Google's brand, look at, for example:

[webmasterworld.com...]

And do something.

Please also confirm that as per my post in that thread, you *do* care and
are *not* sitting on your hands while taking the dirty money, just for my
faith in the US commerical understanding of the word "ethics" or indeed
"do no harm"...

and they wrote back and confirmed at some length that they do care and continue to work on it. This won't keep the conspiracy theorists happy I know, but I can't see why they'd bother to deliberately lie to me.

Rgds

Damon

10:26 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I am strongly against click fraud but are they going to pay me for my time?

I think not.

ann

10:47 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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



you will be paid by getting more per click when The trash is rooted out. \:-)

Ann

11:13 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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



Placing ads on pages with only several sentences of content(huge websites maybe exception to this because of the uncontrollable number of pages. The percent of good pages to bads is the key)

This could be a dangerous assumption.

If a website has an uncontrollable number of pages then that is their problem, not Google's. Web pages that have no content and that carry Adsense are no use to anyone apart from their owners and they are operating in contravention of Adsense policy. Surely the size of the site is of no consequence?

11:13 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I'm a non AS person, so ignore at will, but alas, I'm likewise a cynic. clickbots bad ... no question. But I do have to wonder.

What prevents Site A, in somewhat of a competitive niche, nabbing up a handful of online poker/chat/etc. friends to click merrily away on Sites B, C, D, E, F, etc. in the niche. Then, a tad later, mosey on over to those sites a day or three apart and report them for click fraud, followed by big laughs asll around at their private hold 'em table in cybervilleflats.

11:36 am on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)



What prevents Site A, in somewhat of a competitive niche, nabbing up a handful of online poker/chat/etc. friends to click merrily away on Sites B, C, D, E, F, etc. in the niche.

How would "Site A" know about these invalid clicks? I believe the big laugh would be on Site A, no?

12:32 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



This could be a dangerous assumption.

If a website has an uncontrollable number of pages then that is their problem, not Google's. Web pages that have no content and that carry Adsense are no use to anyone apart from their owners and they are operating in contravention of Adsense policy. Surely the size of the site is of no consequence?

You're right but there are cases that this must be allowed and it's already allowed - of course there's a limit.

I can explain the situation better with an example. <example.com>: they've adunits on all of the pages and some pages contain several sentences because of the nature of the site. With millions of definitions=pages, they can't control each individual page one by one as to decide to place the ads or not. Although this can be done automatically by analyzing the text length and turning the ads on/off depending on a predefined content length limit, considering the extra server loads and all the hassle, that won't be done.

Now, I think that's acceptable.

[edited by: Woz at 12:42 pm (utc) on July 5, 2005]
[edit reason] No Specifics please, see Tos#13 [/edit]

1:19 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)



smacks of desperation from Google to me. They are admitting they are unable to police the system themselves.

It's another tool, that's all.

1:19 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I am strongly against click fraud but are they going to pay me for my time?

I think not.

wow, don't know where to start there...

The Police can not do everything by themself. If citizens didn't do their part to assist the authoritories (report suspicious activity, notify them of a crime, take a pro active action ect) there would be no safety. You can't put the task of doing away will evil on one group. It's everyone's problem so everyone needs to do their part.

Obviously Google doesn't expect you to sit on your computer and review sites with adsense all day -- that's their job-- but it wouldn't kill you to spend 2 minutes reporting that site you're on when you see, "please click Google ads now to support this site!"

1:30 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Google simply recognizes that many publishers want to help clean the system -- which is what we all want, right? So why can't it mobilize willing publishers to guide their quality control team on sites to check/monitor? Ebay has productively used this type of system, allowing members to report violations of other members so why can't Google?

Unless you guys want Adbrite's system of using a security code that the user must type when an ad is clicked to verify that the click is valid and not made by clickbots or anything. Instead of going straight to the advertiser's website, the clicker must type in the code. If Adsense implements that same system, boy oh boy, this forum will be flooded with "my earnings dropped like a rock" and "my CTR went down the drain" postings.

2:10 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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



I don't understand what's new about how we report sites or about how they follow up on the feedback. Don't they read the comments that are sent to them anyway?
2:15 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I'm sure they read them, at the very least (even if they don't act on it sometimes). This is simply a tool to streamline the process. Make it easier for everyone concerned. I'm sure you've done those things for your business as well. Think of it as creating a new Spam folder in your email tool, instead of every complaint received going into the Inbox. Now, spam has a very special box all of its own. No big deal.
2:29 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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



what's new about how we report sites

With "invalid clicks" the reports are being tagged for the click fraud investigation team. With "spamreport" it is tagged for the quality check team.

I am guessing they had enough people reporting click fraud that it made sense to have them tagged differently to speed up and streamline the process.

2:52 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



It is important to report click fraud to Google if you suspect it. This month I had $609.47 deducted from my earnings because of click fraud that I reported. Sure I would have rather had that money in my pocket, but it's more important to me to keep the AdSense system working and to stay on good terms with Google.

Eric

P.S.: The chances are good they would have caught the click fraud, too, it was so blatantly obvious... some of these click fraud con artists obviously think all webmasters are stupid. Or maybe they were trying to get me kicked out of AdSense -- what I call "disbarring click fraud", one of the three types of click fraud that I've written about. (If you're interested in the article I can send you a link to the article.)

3:25 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Hopefully the new tool will work for the same reasons that Wikipedia works: The existance of a critical mass of motivated, well intentioned, intelligent people who see "this thing" - contextual advertising - as the basis for doing some good in the world.
4:23 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



When I come across a web site that says something like "Click on my Google ads to support this site," I click on Ads by Google, type in

spamreport - AdSense TOS violation by requesting visitors click Google ads.

It takes me about 10 seconds. Jenstar, are you saying I should now use invalid clicks instead of spamreport?

4:26 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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



The floodgates are open and the false accusations will start to fly.

I just hope Google can tell the difference between a site being setup to get booted by competitors and REAL click fraud.

6:35 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



What prevents Site A, in somewhat of a competitive niche, nabbing up a handful of online poker/chat/etc. friends to click merrily away on Sites B, C, D, E, F, etc. in the niche. Then, a tad later, mosey on over to those sites a day or three apart and report them for click fraud, followed by big laughs asll around at their private hold 'em table in cybervilleflats.

Very good point, I was wondering the exact same thing... I don't think the ability to declare click fraud on a site should be made public.

7:14 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I just hope Google can tell the difference between a site being setup to get booted by competitors and REAL click fraud.

i am sure that google will not take "invalid clicks" reports as Truth - they will verify everything. i assume that such a report just brings a site to the top of the pile for the investigators to research.

this makes me think that the process is not fully automated, because if it was, then the computer scripts could do everything on their own. apparently, a team of humans is checking (or doublechecking) everything before a decision is made. these reports then, just highlight potential violators, and the team will focus on those first.

10:36 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)



Very good point, I was wondering the exact same thing... I don't think the ability to declare click fraud on a site should be made public.

And I think it should.

It's not a good point. It's a ridiculous, uninformed point.

Are you not following this? Site A induces his buddies to wage click fraud war against Site B and then reports them to google. Reports them for what, my friend? Use your head for a change. Site A caused it.. google notices it.. then Site A reports it. Buh bye Site A. Jesus. My point is how would Site A have even have known about the click fraud unless they were instrumental in bringing it about.

Play with fire and you get burnt.

I'll be passing out bic lighters and boxes of matches on my website for anyone who wants them. 5 gal. cans of gas will cost extra, of course.

11:31 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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



It's a ridiculous, uninformed point. Are you not following this?

Your scenario has a lot of holes for such an arrogant reply. What if "Site A" doesn't report the action, but an anonymous surfer does? What if the person reporting the fraud simply claims they saw people talking about this in a chatroom?

The correct answer is that there is little or no motivation for anyone to get you kicked out of AdSense in the first place, and that Google will be investigating these reports in the same way they always have.

3:05 am on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)



...for such an arrogant reply.

You're right of course. I was just being arrogant and probably didn't even read the preceding posts.

3:18 am on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I'm curious what tools a site operator can use to determine if his/her site is being attacked in such a manner.

Abnormally high CTR/clicks? Adsense swings so far in each direction that many of us wouldn't have the slightest clue if one person clicked on the same / several ads a dozen times.

Is there a tool somewhere on the AdSense control panel that shows you which IP clicked on which ad, and when?

I've done my best to report "weird" stuff to them in the past, but they always said something to the effect of "thank you for reporting this, see the TOS to read about how we don't like click fraud." I'm just swinging in the dark so I have no idea if I've been attacked, because they just send out the same generic thing every time.

I wish they would give us more information if they want to get our help in cracking down. It would also make those of us legitimate publishers who never ever click an ad on their site (even if it looks interesting or we want to know where it goes) feel a little more secure, knowing that if some guy clicks 30 ads we can report it before G finds out and boots us.

3:44 am on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I've done my best to report "weird" stuff to them in the past, but they always said something to the effect of "thank you for reporting this, see the TOS to read about how we don't like click fraud." I'm just swinging in the dark so I have no idea if I've been attacked, because they just send out the same generic thing every time.

same here! i agree, google loves canned responses

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