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Old 06-24-2005   #1
BrianLong
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Click Fraud Exposed - Search123

I tried many of the PPC networks for one of my websites and was shocked to see the amount of click fraud on some of the networks. What follows is an expose showing the fradulent traffic to my site from Search123. I also include the names of their 'fraud farm' partners.

To check for fradulent activity, I used a custom landing page. The landing page name is the same as the network (search123.php). I also captured the HTTP referrer and the remote IP address.

My website has a landing page that welcomes the visitor to the site and explains how to find what they are looking for. Almost all legitimate traffic results in at least two page views. This example of legitimate traffic came from Google Adwords: (I tried to load an HTML table into this forum, but it didn't work. My apologies for the rough formatting below.)

IP Address
HTTP Referrer
Page Viewed
Date & Time

65.245.89.87
http://www.google.com/search?q=movin...=50&amp ;sa=N
/Movers.php
6/24/05 1:59

65.245.89.87
http://www.(my domain).com/Movers.php
/Movers_in_KS.php
6/24/05 2:00

Here is what the traffic from Search123 looks like. Note that almost no visits result in multiple page views. Some visits have no HTTP referrer - suggesting a click-bot. (I snipped some of the referring URLS in order to get them to fit well on a page).

IP Address
HTTP Referrer
Page Viewed
Date & Time
Notes

201.140.133.90
http://webmassive.co.uk/search.php?keywords=Movers
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:08
webmassive.co.uk may be a fraud farm.

24.131.151.193
http://216.133.243.28/2.php?sid=4756&keyword=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:09
referrer is findology.com and appears to be a fraud farm

24.174.188.225
http://www.searchsalon.com/search.php?keywords=Movers
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:11
searchsalon may be a fraud farm.

24.197.202.119
http://cdhigh.info/search.php?keywords=movers
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:14
cdhigh.info may be a fraud farm.

67.141.73.247
http://www.yahoomania.com/cgi-bin/sm....cgi?keywords=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:17
yahoomania may be a fraud farm.

24.195.100.157

/search123.php
6/24/05 6:21
Click-bot? No HTTP referrer.

24.94.65.129

/search123.php
6/24/05 6:28
Click-bot? No HTTP referrer.

67.172.213.229
http://www.profseek.com/?search=Movers
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:30
profseek may be a fraud farm.

205.250.74.78
http://www.ezwebseek.com/docs/search.php?Terms=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:31
ezwebseek may be a fraud farm.

68.47.225.196
http://www.12noon.net/search.php?aff...D=200&str=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:33
12noon.net may be a fraud farm.

24.2.181.250
http://216.133.243.28/2.php?sid=4756&keyword=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:33
referrer is findology.com and appears to be a fraud farm

64.17.72.185
http://usa02.win4win.com/ConfirmClic...c=e4&link=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:36
win4win may be a fraud farm.

64.246.18.25

/search123.php
6/24/05 6:38
Click-bot? No HTTP referrer.

64.246.18.25

/Movers_in_WI.php
6/24/05 6:38
First instance of multiple page views. Click-bot? No HTTP referrer.

64.246.18.25
/Movers_in_WI.php
http://www.twomen.com/franchises/ind...se_id=00001759
6/24/05 6:38
Another page view from the same IP address. I am skeptical though, since these click all happened so fast.

24.2.181.250
http://216.133.243.28/2.php?sid=5600&keyword=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:40
referrer is findology.com and appears to be a fraud farm

24.12.81.164
http://216.133.243.28/2.php?sid=5600&keyword=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:42
referrer is findology.com and appears to be a fraud farm

66.149.60.26
http://www.infoseekweb.com/index.php?uid=61&REQ=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:45
infoseekweb appears to be a fraud farm.

68.85.101.167
http://search.brainfox.com/search.php?cat=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:49
brainfox appears to be a fraud farm.

169.229.50.12
http://www.keepsearch.com/search.php
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:51
keepsearch appears to be a fraud farm.

158.130.6.253
http://www.keepsearch.com/search.php
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:51
keepsearch appears to be a fraud farm.


I think that there is 0% legitimate traffic here.

I, of course, am contacting Search123 to get a full refund. I have found similar patterns from ePilot and Enhance.

I am having good results with Google and Yahoo.

Has anybody had good results with Miva, LookSmart, Kanoodle, Lycos Insite, or goClick?
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Old 06-24-2005   #2
Phoenix
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Hi Brian,

Interesting post, I did recognize a few of those sites in there. Brainfox is a second tier engine providing very very cheap traffic. They had bids below a penny at one time.

My question though is what is your criteria are you using for determing whether a click is fraudulent or not? Also, my rule is that when dealing with second tier PPC engines or similar lesser PPC companies is not to trust them. They have always brought me fraudulent traffic in great amounts and I will not touch them to this day unless there is some overwhelming reason I should gamble with it. So drawing conclusions between search123 and Adwords is like comparing apple and oranges. Search123 is actually really only a third tier engine. Someone once wrote that their are no such things as second tier engines, because they get all their traffic from third tier engines and low quality traffic peddlers. There is not quality enhancement by adding a middle man.

I would definately request a refund and stay far far away from search123.com and any of those other sites listed. I would spend my time testing Adwords and Overture for particular keywords to see if you can root out anyone fleecing you for clicks.
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Old 06-26-2005   #3
BrianLong
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Click Fraud Exposed

Hi Phoenix,

I am considering several factors to identify fraudulent traffic. 1) Does the majority of traffic look 'normal'?. In this case, all of the fraudulent traffic was single hit, zero second, visits. 2) Who was the referring search engine? I tracked-back the visits in question to the originating 'search engine' and found very poor quality search sites that only offered results from sponsored links - no organic resuts at all. One of the sites was so bad that the 'Contact Us' link led to a Hotmail acccount! I call these sites 'Fraud Farms.' And 3) the volume & timing of the traffic. The fradulent traffic started almost immediately after I activated a campaign. It came in fast and furious -- it simply did not feel 'natural' when compared to the rest of the traffic on this site.

I have placed more results from my logs, and more commentary, on my web site at http://www.firstmoversadvantage.com/click_fraud.php
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Old 06-26-2005   #4
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thanks for the interesting link and data, brian. (Methinks, however, that you are trying to rank for "click fraud." )

Please feel free to continue to post your findings here, but I would beware threats and possible legal action coming from those you are "calling out." Also please continue to keep an eye out on the "big dogs" even though you state to not have suspected anything in your research.

Thanks again for the link...
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Old 07-13-2005   #5
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Follow-up Comments

I have had a few conversations with a rep from Kanoodle who 'optimized' my account -- whatever that means.

One of the things they did was to limit my acccount to US traffic only. It appeared that almost all of the bad traffic came from overseas. They also recomended that I stop using the keyword 'relocation' as this was also causing a lot of bad traffic.

They did give a credit for the bad clicks I had and then gave me an additional credit to keep trying the service.

I did find that the volume of low-quality clicks has dropped significantly since their 'optimization'. I am still monitoring this service to see if the quality of the remaining traffic is any better.

I still have not heard from any of the other networks that I had problems with. Kanoodle is the only one to be responsive to my complaints.
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Old 07-17-2005   #6
tomr
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Brainfox

Brainfox is click fraud. At one time they were pretty good.

Last time I used it their stats were 'broken', so I couldn't see which of my keyphrases were being clicked. None of the reporting worked whatsoever.

I e-mailed them and got nothing in return. And the hundred bucks I gave them was gone in 24 hours resulting in 0 sales.

The first time I used them the reporting was great, the money went slow... I know for a fact that don't get that many searches for my niche, so the pace was accurate.

I only use Google now.
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Old 04-30-2006   #7
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Just for the record. I've removed the 12noon search engine because you were spot on. I couldn't keep up the the affiliates that were trying to make money by turning my old search engine into a fraud farm. Plus the software i was using wasn't good enough to keep things in check.

I don't know what everyone else thinks who runs a PPC search engine, but it's hard work trying to keep up with the rip-off users. I could see some affiliates clocking up hundreds of searches per day and i had an idea that something just wasn't right, so a few months ago i pulled the search engine off my domain and changed the site into a sports forum.

BTW i wouldn't trust Pay Per Click again after what i've gone through.
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Old 05-18-2006   #8
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I've had similar experience with Kanoodle, luckily they refunded me for the fraudulent clicks after I had a chat with an account reps. My advice! stick to the mainstream search engines. Specially if you are running PPC campaigns in the B2B sector. Its simply not worth your time.

- Farees
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Old 05-30-2006   #9
Nintendo
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GoClick does generate clicks, and they look like unique, real visitors. You just have to pick the right keywords to get clicks...aka generic keywords for the site topic.

For example, want to promote a dating site? You might as well only bid on the keyword 'dating'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomr
Brainfox is click fraud. At one time they were pretty good.

Last time I used it their stats were 'broken', so I couldn't see which of my keyphrases were being clicked. None of the reporting worked whatsoever.

I e-mailed them and got nothing in return. And the hundred bucks I gave them was gone in 24 hours resulting in 0 sales.
My Brainfox log will explain why they are pure clickfraud now....

http://www.qualityproductreviews.com/stats.txt

Notice where almost all the clicks are from. Almost all of the clicks come from the same domain. I was able to get the stats to work after E-Mailing them. Now you can just sit there and watch clicks be generated. The site the clicks come from says...

Quote:
Using Cost-Per-View (CPV) ad units and a variety of ad formats, we help you reach your key target audience across multiple publishers throughout the web.
It looks like you don't pay per click, but just for some one seeing your link. Bid a measly penny on anything...and you still get bombed with fraud clicks.
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Old 06-02-2006   #10
infoseek
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I operate an affiliate & partner program I have canceled allot of members for cheating, I do not condole cheaters. there for your opinion of my site is an under statement. I have spent allot of time on my website and my scripts get
updated every 2 months with anti cheat software. I would appreciate it if you change this fraise since it has cause me allot of losses. that member 61 has been deleted from our system a long time ago.

I don't think anyone spent as much time as I do on my website to make sure things are running smoothly. it is unfair for you to quote me as a fraud farm,. You have caused my allot of pain & suffering since my wages have drop signifigcally.


Ely






Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianLong
I tried many of the PPC networks for one of my websites and was shocked to see the amount of click fraud on some of the networks. What follows is an expose showing the fradulent traffic to my site from Search123. I also include the names of their 'fraud farm' partners.

To check for fradulent activity, I used a custom landing page. The landing page name is the same as the network (search123.php). I also captured the HTTP referrer and the remote IP address.

My website has a landing page that welcomes the visitor to the site and explains how to find what they are looking for. Almost all legitimate traffic results in at least two page views. This example of legitimate traffic came from Google Adwords: (I tried to load an HTML table into this forum, but it didn't work. My apologies for the rough formatting below.)

IP Address
HTTP Referrer
Page Viewed
Date & Time

65.245.89.87
http://www.google.com/search?q=movin...=50&amp ;sa=N
/Movers.php
6/24/05 1:59

65.245.89.87
http://www.(my domain).com/Movers.php
/Movers_in_KS.php
6/24/05 2:00

Here is what the traffic from Search123 looks like. Note that almost no visits result in multiple page views. Some visits have no HTTP referrer - suggesting a click-bot. (I snipped some of the referring URLS in order to get them to fit well on a page).

IP Address
HTTP Referrer
Page Viewed
Date & Time
Notes

201.140.133.90
http://webmassive.co.uk/search.php?keywords=Movers
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:08
webmassive.co.uk may be a fraud farm.

24.131.151.193
http://216.133.243.28/2.php?sid=4756&keyword=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:09
referrer is findology.com and appears to be a fraud farm

24.174.188.225
http://www.searchsalon.com/search.php?keywords=Movers
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:11
searchsalon may be a fraud farm.

24.197.202.119
http://cdhigh.info/search.php?keywords=movers
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:14
cdhigh.info may be a fraud farm.

67.141.73.247
http://www.yahoomania.com/cgi-bin/sm....cgi?keywords=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:17
yahoomania may be a fraud farm.

24.195.100.157

/search123.php
6/24/05 6:21
Click-bot? No HTTP referrer.

24.94.65.129

/search123.php
6/24/05 6:28
Click-bot? No HTTP referrer.

67.172.213.229
http://www.profseek.com/?search=Movers
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:30
profseek may be a fraud farm.

205.250.74.78
http://www.ezwebseek.com/docs/search.php?Terms=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:31
ezwebseek may be a fraud farm.

68.47.225.196
http://www.12noon.net/search.php?aff...D=200&str=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:33
12noon.net may be a fraud farm.

24.2.181.250
http://216.133.243.28/2.php?sid=4756&keyword=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:33
referrer is findology.com and appears to be a fraud farm

64.17.72.185
http://usa02.win4win.com/ConfirmClic...c=e4&link=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:36
win4win may be a fraud farm.

64.246.18.25

/search123.php
6/24/05 6:38
Click-bot? No HTTP referrer.

64.246.18.25

/Movers_in_WI.php
6/24/05 6:38
First instance of multiple page views. Click-bot? No HTTP referrer.

64.246.18.25
/Movers_in_WI.php
http://www.twomen.com/franchises/ind...se_id=00001759
6/24/05 6:38
Another page view from the same IP address. I am skeptical though, since these click all happened so fast.

24.2.181.250
http://216.133.243.28/2.php?sid=5600&keyword=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:40
referrer is findology.com and appears to be a fraud farm

24.12.81.164
http://216.133.243.28/2.php?sid=5600&keyword=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:42
referrer is findology.com and appears to be a fraud farm

66.149.60.26
http://www.infoseekweb.com/index.php?uid=61&REQ=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:45
infoseekweb appears to be a fraud farm.

68.85.101.167
http://search.brainfox.com/search.php?cat=[snip]
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:49
brainfox appears to be a fraud farm.

169.229.50.12
http://www.keepsearch.com/search.php
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:51
keepsearch appears to be a fraud farm.

158.130.6.253
http://www.keepsearch.com/search.php
/search123.php
6/24/05 6:51
keepsearch appears to be a fraud farm.


I think that there is 0% legitimate traffic here.

I, of course, am contacting Search123 to get a full refund. I have found similar patterns from ePilot and Enhance.

I am having good results with Google and Yahoo.

Has anybody had good results with Miva, LookSmart, Kanoodle, Lycos Insite, or goClick?
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Old 06-02-2006   #11
Twigs
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I've used them all: galaxy, searchfeed, search123, 7search, goclick, miva, kanoodle, lycos, pageseeker, enhance, looksmart, epilot, etc and I find that the deposit is used up right away and the amount of qualified traffic to my site is about zero.
I also find that most of the time my ads are put on sites that I don't want to be associated with, and if you try to get in contact with anyone reguarding your account you're SOL. (I did have a nice chat with a looksmart rep the other day though - props to looksmart for being on the ball)
The few lingering 2nd tier campaigns that I still have running are only going because they still have a few bucks in them. Once the money is gone I'm never looking back.
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Old 06-02-2006   #12
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respond

Searchfeed is an excelent advertisier they canceled my account because of this #61 member. you have to realized that we cannot control who joins,
but they get caught right away. and I'm pretty sure you was refunded,.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigs
I've used them all: galaxy, searchfeed, search123, 7search, goclick, miva, kanoodle, lycos, pageseeker, enhance, looksmart, epilot, etc and I find that the deposit is used up right away and the amount of qualified traffic to my site is about zero.
I also find that most of the time my ads are put on sites that I don't want to be associated with, and if you try to get in contact with anyone reguarding your account you're SOL. (I did have a nice chat with a looksmart rep the other day though - props to looksmart for being on the ball)
The few lingering 2nd tier campaigns that I still have running are only going because they still have a few bucks in them. Once the money is gone I'm never looking back.
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Old 06-02-2006   #13
Twigs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by infoseek
Searchfeed is an excelent advertisier
I think we're measuring different KPI
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Old 06-02-2006   #14
BrianHorn
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I sut down all smaller PPC services many months ago

I knew when some website I never heard of was sending more traffic than Google (my site is ranked #3 for the most competive term) that something was wrong. All tracked by to 7Search. I got back a wad of cash (client is an attorney...that helps)and canceled the service. Only use Yahoo and Google, with a little Kanoodle mixed in for branding.
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Old 06-12-2006   #15
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I would have to agree after running PPC on most of the secondary engines all of it was crap. Alot was from paid to click traffic programs.

I have also found this same thing with rent someones a list... or two or three.

Ask and GoClick both do send clicks, at somewhat less expense than Google, Yahoo, and MSN somewhat.

I learned from one client who had the patience and pockets to test these waters and we / I have never ventured back.

Currently working with Momma.com to see what she has to offer...so far so good but it is minimal at best and I am not targeting high traffic terms.

In fact it is a widespread localized campaign. Each state has it's own landing page. Out of the 50 I use normally I am using 15 in the Momma test.

Remains to be seen.

Anyone who may have used them in the past let me know.
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