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A few early suggestions have been:
[B] build a follow me system to actually follow the surfer and see how many pages deep he goes and if he fills out a form or does the advertisers MWR.
that's about it, so far, and I'm not overly takem with either suggestion. i like simple systems best. I prefer to just work with top 2000 websites and allow advertisers to ban affiliates with poor conversions
B) that's not PPC.
Preventing PPC click fraud is a lot like developing a spam filter. You need to build a set of rules, algorithms, processes that can tell the difference between a "legit" click and a bot, macro, botnet, or someone just clicking on their own ads using proxies and UserAgent spoofing. In order to "teach" a system to recognize fraudulent clicks, you need a large sample set where the fraudulent status is either known or statistically inferred. Then you can use Baysean filters or K-means analysis or neural something or other to build your fraud detection brain. It's not simple, at all. And there's an army of criminals working for the dark side!
You have two opportunities to prevent bots and fraudsters from clicking a PPC ad: once when the ads are requested, and again when the ad is clicked.
There are experts in this subject... I am not one. But I know a few basic principles
1) When the ads are requested,
require the publisher to send along the user's IP and UserAgent
- validate the User Agent
- validate the IP
- employ rate limiting, and/or have filters in place to detect massive numbers of requests from the same IP
2) When the ad is clicked
- employ whitelisting and blacklisting in tandem
- check that human-like behaviour preceded the click
- trigger the alarms if one IP does a lot of clicking
- look for timing patterns, such as clicks that happen exactly every 10 seconds
- throw away any clicks that come from IPs that are known to be used by the publisher themself
While this discussion is about "How to protect your ppc xml feed" it would also be equally good to hear some comments on the vulnerability of banner networks or ad systems that charge cpm. Everywhere i look there's a new banner network and many of them seem to flourish. I'm guessing they face the same uphill battles when fighting fraud, but community comments are welcome.