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How to Detect Click Fraud

Data presented for Yahoo! Product Submit

8:06 pm on Jan 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

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In Dec '06 I signed up with Yahoo!'s Product Submit. They are very terse in describing exactly where my products are advertised. I assumed only in the Yahoo Shopping directory and no 3rd-party affiliates.

We have a referrer monitor that logs each and every hit to the site including time and date, url of the referrer page with the exact parameter details, and the page on our site that was hit.

I just compared the number of hits from shopping.yahoo.com in our referrer log with the reports from Product Submit.

Over about 2 weeks, Yahoo!'s Product Submit reported (and charged me for) 151 clicks. Their reports don't give the url or product that was hit, just the total clicks per day (Pretty cheesy for such a large company).

The total hits to our site from shopping.yahoo.com were 89. If I subtract 22 hits that were exactly the same referrer url and parameters (duplicate hits?) from shopping.yahoo.com, that makes 67 hits.

I can't seem to find whether Yahoo! Product Submit uses third parties to advertise and collect money from me. If so, this can explain the unaccounted hits in our referrer report - but 41-56% discrepancy is still huge? It's hard to believe that third parties reap about as much as Yahoo! does.

Can anyone explain the approx 41-56% discrepancy?
I wrote to Yahoo! but who knows when I'll hear back. I'll post their reply when/if I get one.

Better yet, does anyone have a list of the url parameters so I can determine from where the hits come? E.g., what is unique in the url for hits from Overture, Product Submit, third-party affiliates, and Yahoo!'s organic listings? Google AdWords and organic would be nice, too. If I can get that list, I'll post a revised analysis.


2:32 am on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Y! is notorious for "dodgy partners" -- third parties that generate an abundance of nonconverting clicks. It could be click fraud; it could be something else. Also keep in mind that referrers can be faked.

If this activity persists over the course of a few months, you should either reduce your spend or switch to a program that gives you better ROI. You could try asking them for refunds, but you might not get any.

4:27 pm on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi Gregbo,

Yea - I'm dissatisfied with Overture. They revamped their interface with no new valuable functions, like limiting advertising on only US sites or only at Yahoo!.

Anyway, Product Submit is confusing because Y! appears to post the product only at Yahoo! I tested a product listed in some places at Y! and they all returned a referrer as "shopping.yahoo.com". I would assume that Y! returns a valid referrer.

I wonder if Y! isn't telling the whole story about whether third parties do, indeed, advertise products from Product Submit. Either that or I'm getting many fraud clicks.