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How Can You Tell If You Have Fallen Victim To Click Fraud?

Click Fraud, Yahoo, Overture



7:03 pm on Sep 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

How can I tell if I am a victim of click fraud? Recently, that is for about the past month, our spend for one of our keywords has gone through the roof. By this I mean we've spent over $2000 dollars on it in the past 3 weeks.

This is only happening on Yahoo as we also advertise on Google & MSN and haven't seen the same spike. After checking our stats I found that over 3% of all of traffic for said word was coming from 1 particular website which we are not affiliated with.

Well I called our Yahoo rep yesterday to inquire further about this I was assured that it had to do with the fact that there was a higher CPC for the word in question which should account for the spend. That and we have a couple other keywords that were adding to the cost.

Now I'm fairly new to the whole PPC programs and have only really been working with the big 3 for the past 2 months, but this seems kind of fishy to me. If it's not click fraud then what would account for the spike on Yahoo and not the other SE's? Our conversions are very low.

It is possible that this is a seasonal item, but again why is only Yahoo getting hit?

I'm just curious as I don't have as much of a background with SEO and I'd like to have a better answer for my boss for an upcoming meeting. Can anybody shed a little light for me?


8:55 pm on Sep 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Here's a basic rundown of dealing with Yahoo on pretty much any subject:

1) Their first 3 answers are designed to get you to stop asking the question.

2) Don't ask questions ... tell them what you want.

3) Be persistent and work your way up the ladder to the supervisors and managers. The lower-level people are just there to keep you from getting to the upper-level people who can really do something.

Re: Click fraud claims to Yahoo:

4) Copy appropriate sections of your log files and present them as evidence of fraud as you tell them to adjust your billing to remove amounts related to the 'invalid clicks'. Don't ask, TELL.

5) Get more and more irritated as you call them over and over to get your goal accomplished. Apparently p**sed people get better results with them.

6) Do not stop persisting in your claim until your billing has been adjusted. They will tell you on the phone that they will adjust it, but you must see it with your own eyes before you can rest assured that it has been done.

Good luck! And I hope they give you lots of nice credits to do more advertising with them ... you won't get any cash back ...

Tropical Island

9:10 pm on Sep 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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


I was told by e-mail that a click fraud refund had been issued.

I kept checking the "Billings Transaction Detail" however a separate item for the refund never appeared.

When I wrote them saying it was not there they said that they just adjusted my balance. I have no way of knowing if this was so or not as I don't track it that closely (not large amounts with them any more).

My question is - does this sound normal or should there be a separate item in billing?


9:36 pm on Sep 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

^ It should show up on the Billing Transactions Detail report. (It took me a long time to figure that out, and I too didn't keep track of the balance and had to wonder.) But for me, anyway, it is in the Billing Transactions Detail report.

BTW, it isn't a click fraud refund, it's a "Suspicious Activity Adjustment".


6:11 pm on Sep 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It's sad to say this but OV seems to have turned into a bunch of crooks. There is a major cover article in the latest Business Week on click fraud, and a lot of not nice news about Yahoo's shenanagins with OV. The major problem is its partner distribution for the keywords you bought. You can't control where they appear. I did a recent test where I directed two main keywords to a test page that got no other traffic. I found all the visitors were from OV, and that 95 out of 100 of those OV visitors were from junk sites, not from Yahoo. Plus a good number of the clicks were in the early am my time (eastern US)and they used up the budget pretty quickly early in the day. I complained to Yahoo, and got their standard answer: they have a monitoring system that ensures against click fraud, blah, blah, blah. The bottom line I told them, is I don't pay you to appear on porn search sites, and other junk sites that no one ever heard of. Let's be realistic: most people know about and use Google, Yahoo, MSN, a few others, earthlink, or one of the bell telephone search sites, and the older sites like Excite and Alta Vista. But who has heard of these off-the-map sites like "truelocalsearch" or "mysearch" etc? Do you really think that traffic from such off-beat, never heard of places, will equal and in fact, exceed, the traffic from Yahoo? It defies common sense. Using OV is paying for bogus traffic in my opinion.


1:25 pm on Oct 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks for all the feedback folks. I didn't feel like I was getting an acceptable answer from the Yahoo rep. It just simply doesn't make any sense when I look at my stats. There is no way our spend should be as high as it is without more conversions. I will be calling back today as I still feel like there is something rotten in Denmark.


1:29 pm on Oct 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks for all the feedback folks. I didn't feel like I was getting an acceptable answer from the Yahoo rep. It just simply doesn't make any sense when I look at my stats. There is no way our spend should be as high as it is without more conversions.


8:20 am on Oct 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"How can I tell if I am a victim of click fraud?"

Answer: You advertise with them.

I used to spend mega bucks with them, all the way back to the Goto/Overture days.

Now, I spend about 2% of what I used to spend, and only on low cost obscure terms.

The guy above hit it on the head - any competitive term, and 95%+ of your traffic is coming from junk, lots of it outside the U.S., and I would dare say that MOST U.S. ecommerce sites do not ship outside the U.S. to begin with, so even if it WAS (and it's not) valid traffic, it would still be a complete waste of money for the advertiser.

I'd truly like to see them 'get it together', but I'm not holding my breath...


8:49 pm on Oct 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Is there a better alternative?

I have my thoughts, but want them validated by other users..



10:54 pm on Oct 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If you really don't want to be bothered by click (or impression) fraud, you must sign up with an engine or network that allows you to pay either on a CPA or fixed fee basis. OTOH, you can sign up with AdWords, which doesn't have the "dodgy partner" problem that Y! has, but you still need to be on the alert for other types of click fraud.


2:36 am on Oct 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've been desperately trying for some time now to tell yahoo about the 50 daily 1 cent paid ads to the 7,600+ memberbase at the ptr site wepaymail dot com that ALL are 'made for yahoo ads' one page sites, but it turns out since I am not a ysm advertiser myself, I don't qualify to tell them of the potential 12 million monthly opportunities those members have to click you guys/gals yahoo budgets into cyber-oblivion. sad really.

On another and perhaps more positive note, since the b-w article the domain parking companies that have the top level backing, either g or y, have been for the most part Excellent! Kudos to those companies, they've mostly done a very good job. Goog also has pulled up to the plate with a sizable bat.

Should any of you choose to resort to rolling up your sleeves and seeing this stuff in action for yourselves at one of these ptr sites, watch out for the site-rotators, that's where the action is, but it's not what you're looking for in your logs. ...

drive safely out there.


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