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Citysearch Sued for Click Fraud

     
9:37 pm on May 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Citysearch.com is defrauding its advertising customers of millions of dollars by not only turning a blind eye to click fraud, but in fact encouraging it as well, according to a lawsuit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court by Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP.

"Most click fraud cases involve companies that simply turn a blind eye to it," said the victims' attorney, Brian S. Kabateck, Managing Partner of Kabateck Brown Kellner. "Citysearch does this too, since it has no real program to prevent click fraud. But Citysearch goes beyond indifference to actively incentivizing click fraud. Citysearch's motive is simple: clicks equal cash, whether they're fraudulent or not."

Citysearch Sued for Click Fraud [foxbusiness.com]

[edited by: engine at 8:31 am (utc) on May 28, 2008]
[edit reason] fair use and link added [/edit]

10:04 am on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It looks to me like the fraud claim rests here (from the same article):

Click fraud can be detected by software that can track suspicious patterns, such as repeated clicks from the same source. Although Citysearch assures its customers that it applies this technology, the experiences of many of its customers shows otherwise, according to the suit. Still, customers are led to believe that Citysearch is in fact actively fighting against click fraud.
3:37 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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We quit advertising with them over this - it was clear to us that click-fraud was going on, but they did nothing when we reported it. I'm glad someone is holding their feet to the fire over it.
4:31 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Citysearch...pays commissions to its salespeople based on the number of clicks their customers' ads receive, providing an incentive for click fraud, according to the lawsuit.

Can't really think of another way to base a salespersons commission on other than account revenue. Are there other models used in PPC sales?
4:34 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Can't really think of another way to base a salespersons commission on other than account revenue. Are there other models used in PPC sales?

I guess it is not about the model but the rules within the model. I guess Google/Yahoo!/etc. do not offer incentives for reps to click on clients' ads.

5:19 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm probably missing something pretty obvious here, but how can the salesmen increase the clicks on a customers ads?

Seems like that's something out of their control.

5:29 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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but how can the salesmen increase the clicks on a customers ads?

By clicking on them?
5:47 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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but how can the salesmen increase the clicks on a customers ads?

By clicking on them?

And...
Asking their friends and family to click on them.
Hiring one those "100,000 visitors to your site" services.
Running a click bot.

5:59 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hiring one those "100,000 visitors to your site" services.

Or owning one.

Still, what other models of salesperson comp are there in the PPC arena?

6:10 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Citysearch...pays commissions to its salespeople based on the number of clicks their customers' ads receive, providing an incentive for click fraud, according to the lawsuit.

Can't really think of another way to base a salespersons commission on other than account revenue. Are there other models used in PPC sales?

Well, the obvious would be commissions on non-fraudulent click revenue. In other words, implement fraud detection measures and only bill the customers and pay commissions on non-fraudulent clicks.
7:18 pm on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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There are only so many things you can detect about a visitor (click):
- IP
- Client (browser)
- And other variables sent by the client (OS, colours, resolution... etc).
IP is the hard one, but if you can fake the above, AND create a 'relatively random pattern' algorithm, Voila! Your click-bot is undetectable.
7:38 pm on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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IP is the hard one, but if you can fake the above

You can't fake an IP with a clickbot: TCP/IP just doesn't work that way. You can only use IPs under your control, and to produce pseudo-random results you'd need quite a few (i.e. a botnet) to avoid easy detection.

7:43 pm on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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IP's are given out in blocks; you could get plenty of them if you take the thousands of extras that corporations and/or universities have. However, I'm sure enough IP's in the same block would be easily marked as click fraud.
 

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