Archive for September, 2007
Saturday, September 29th, 2007
I am bubbling up my favourite posts from September from the depths of my blog to give them a second airing
- Low Quality Clicks as a Form of Passive Demonstration
- Fair Isacc Click Fraud Study
- ClickBot Autopsy
- Pay to Read FaceBook Application
- Mechanics of Click Fraud Software
Friday, September 28th, 2007
No not really, just trying to drag the fickle Stumblers into this blog post to read about the consequences of their website channel surfing.
For the uninitiated, Stumble Upon is a social networking application where people stumble around the Internet as if they were channel surfing in the ad break with the aim of finding new and interesting web sites. If they like the site they give it a thumbs up or else they give it the dreaded thumbs down. The social aspect is that the newly stumbled sites can be shared with a group of friends.
It’s a great site and it can generate a ton of traffic for blogs such as this, but the problem from a click fraud perspective is the profile of a Stumbler is exactly the same as a paid to read click fraud farm.
What we see on our analytics from a Stumbler is a person landing on our site, spending a fraction of a second before moving on. If someone is carrying out a click fraud investigation, it is hard work to see past these valid Stumbler profiles and not judge them to be click farms clicking on paid ads and then moving onto the next site to carry on their fraud.
The way to get past this problem is to limit which referrer you are analyzing from. Stumble Upon is quite clearly the source, drill down on you ppc provider and ignore all Stumble data. This should help pin point if your are the victim of click fraud.
Thursday, September 27th, 2007
One of the biggest problems in the monitoring and investigation of click fraud is getting the real figures of the problem. There is no shared analytic data between advertisers, click fraud software suppliers and the search engines and as a result levels of click fraud differ from 0.02% according to Google up to 50% from some click fraud software suppliers.
A few shining lights stand out from the crowd. These organisations are collecting large volumes of data and are creating a transparent and available view of click fraud to the wider advertising audience.
At the head of this field is Click Forensics, Inc. This company publishes the highly acclaimed click fraud index on the back of it’s click forensics monitoring solution. Their software is free to small time advertisers and chargeable to larger corporations. The most important part of the process is that the data is captured centrally and analytical research is done on a large data set. The result of their investigations are published quarterly as the Click Fraud Index. The last reported CFI was at 15.8%
Click Forensics are fearless in their pursuit of transparency and their CEO Tom Cuthbert is in constant gladiatorial combat with Shuman Ghosemajumder Google’s invalid click Czar ( some call him the click fraud MIB, covering up all traces of indiscretion). They joust on the real level of click fraud. Google doubts the validity of Click Forensics data gathering technique and in return they question Google level of transparency.
Click forensics is not the only player in this arena, and these groups are not providing these services for altruistic reasons, they are either trying to sell click fraud software to advertisers or are attempting to sell the data collected to the paid placement companies such as the search engines.
I would advocate that all advertisers participate in some sort of data sharing scheme, in a previous post Fair Isaccs were recruiting advertisers to share their data under tight non-disclosure agreements.
Wednesday, September 26th, 2007
This post discusses the three main methods used by click fraud monitoring software to ensure your pay per click campaign is free from fraud. It also discusses the requirements to retrofit each method into your existing ads.
Some service collect keyword data and require a change to the ads as well. This is in the form of adding a keyword tracking tag. An example of this would be on Google Adwords, the landing page would need to be changed from
The amount of time to implement this type of change will increase depending upon the number of ads your company is running.
The second method of data capture is via redirection.
The landing page of the advertisement needs to be changed to point to a gateway server. Once a user has clicked through on an ad, they are briefly sent to the gateway server where the pertinent data is collected. The user is then seamlessly redirected to the real target page.
This method required more retrofitting for existing campaigns as every landing page needs to be changed to point to the new gateway servers.
Log File Analysis
The last method I will discuss is log file analysis. Using this technique, web server log file are imported into an analysis program and analytical analysis of the log is made searching for tell tale patterns in the data.
Some system provide an automatic upload of the log files via ftp every 15 minutes or so to provide near-line analysis and reporting of problems. I am not aware of a product which supplies real time analysis via this method.
This method requires no changes to campaigns as analysis is based entirely on raw log data.
In a future post I will discuss my preferred method of evaluating and choosing a click fraud monitor.
Monday, September 24th, 2007
Whilst Browsing though Facebook applications today, I came across one which looks remarkably like a pay to read scheme.
Cash Cliques as it is know, asks people to click on websites, stay on the site for 30 seconds and then move onto the next one. In return a small trickle income is sent to the clicker via Paypal.
The sales copy for the application states:
By simply adding this application you can earn $ for clicking on websites, you don’t even have to look at the website just wait 30 seconds and click on the next and get paid for everyone you click on!
We’re not talking $Millions but a couple of extra quid a week for simply being on Facebook is better than nothing!
You can be paid by PayPal or cheque so you don’t have to worry about revealing your bank details!
If you don’t like it you can remove the application at any time, like any Facebook application! But UNlike other Facebook applications, this one can make you REAL money!
In a pay per read scheme, the user will usually click through on a pay per click link, costing advertisers money, the clicker then pauses to simulate a real person reading content on a website before moving on.
The people who benefit are content providers taking a share of the ad revenue from systems such as Adsense or competitors trying to deplete the daily marketing budget of another company.
I would recommend that no-one signs up for application of this sort as they are just another manifestation of click fraud.
Saturday, September 22nd, 2007
A quick post to raise a rye smile, I was submitting my usual monthly click fraud report and it is too big for the Google system to handle and it was rejected, there is just too much fraudulent activity from the content network this month.
Friday, September 21st, 2007
I was fortunate enough to be given a guest blogging spot on Seo Scoop, where Dazzlin Donna let me write a post about ClickBot.A.
Friday, September 21st, 2007
BlogRush a new blog syndication service has just opened it’s doors and already nefarious users have found a loop hole and are using impression fraud techniques to generate traffic to made for ads sites. MFA sites are suspected to be creating a large portion of click fraud on the content networks.
Blogrush is a reciprocal advertising platform for bloggers. For every load of my blog pages, the feed of other burners is displayed on the widget (check out the widget to the right of my posts), this in turn allows my feed to be shown on other bloggers BlogRush. This reciprocal advertising should hopefully generate traffic.
BlogRush have been forced to manually vet every new blog in the hope of sifting out low quality MFA sites. Let hope the manipulative few will not spoil what looks like a quality blogging tool.
Thursday, September 20th, 2007
A new term has come onto my personal radar and that is impression fraud. I would like to define this term for readers of this blog.
Impression fraud is a close relative of click fraud, but instead of effecting pay per click advertising budgets, it is effecting advertisers who use pay per impression or CPM as it is also know.
CPM is an abbreviation for cost per thousand impressions where M stands for the Latin term for one thousand. The abbreviation is a throw back to print advertising where the term meant cost per thousands of homes the publication would reach.
In a Google Adwords context it relates to site targeted advertising where you will pay a set amount for one thousand impressions of your ads on a site or type of site your select during ad creation, as opposed to pay per click advertising when an advertiser only pays when the ad is clicked upon.
CPM ads can be text ads, image ads or click to play video ads, and they are generally used when a company is trying to build brand awareness. An example of this could be a car company who has released a new model and they want to pay for repeated image ads to be displayed on a leading car review site which runs adsense advertising.
With impression fraud, content publishers are generating repeated reloads of their website in an effort to increase impressions and thereby generate revenue.
There are doubts whether impression fraud gets past many of the filters used by the search engines.
I hope that helps define impression fraud for you.
Thursday, September 20th, 2007
Google has estimated that invalid clicks cost them $100 million in lost sales per percentage point, they go onto say that the invalid click rate they are seeing is 10%. This equates to a staggering $1 billion in lost revenue.
In an interview for Forbes Shuman Ghosemajumder Google’s manager for trust and safety said:
Our invalid clicks rate — the activity rate — has remained in the range of less than 10 percent of all clicks every quarter since we launched AdWords in 2002. At Google’s current revenue rate, every percentage point of invalid clicks we throw out represents over $100 million [U.S.] per year in potential revenue foregone
This figure is comprised of all the clicks that Google’s filters intercept and mark as invalid, this type of click will include actual click fraud from bots etc along with things such as reloads which count as a double click.