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Old 04-19-2006   #1
dannysullivan
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Thoughts On New Click Fraud Index & Network?

The Click Fraud Index, http://www.clickfraudindex.com/, is a new service that gives you an estimate of fraudulant clicks (or high threat level clicks) that happen on an new Click Fraud Network, http://www.jointhenetwork.com/. Hundreds of advertisers are already apparently involved. I posted about the service yesterday on the blog, along with some comments from the person in charge of it: http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/060418-172804. Anyone using it? Comments on the figures, methodologies?
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Old 04-19-2006   #2
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Angry It SOUNDS Simple

Quote:
Just apply the TAGiQ™ page tag to your website and complete a straight forward registration process.
I decided to sign up for their free CFAnalytics tool and see what it was all about. The instructions say that you have to install the TAGiQ tag on your site. But nowhere on the site do they tell you where to find this tag or how to install it.

Now I'm really interested in where they're getting these numbers, since it doesn't look like there's a way for these "advertisers" to actually use the service.
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Old 04-19-2006   #3
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Help

Thanks for the feedback Chris. I hope Shane's phone call to you this morning helped clarify the steps to apply the page tag. If you have any other questions feel free to contact us anytime at support@clickforensics.com. Welcome to the Network!
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Old 04-20-2006   #4
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I have looked at it pretty seriously ... however I am puzzled and curious on what is the business model here...

What is in it for them? How will they make a buck on this?

What is in the EULA for the software? does it mention anything about distribution or collection of your data?

Maybe I am jaded (well there is no maybe about it) but the days of the Internet being free and full of love and group hugs have gone away with the Boo.com's

I too am really curious on this one as well
Thanks for brining it up

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Old 04-20-2006   #5
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The first blog entry is February, 2006 and where's the privacy policy? And why two separate sites instead of just one?
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Old 04-21-2006   #6
bdnseo
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reciprocal

there is a reciprocal in place in the footer to:

http://www.clickforensics.com/

..which seems to be a much more complete site. You can "join the network" from the clickforensics.com url as well.

I really can't figure out why so many domain names seem to be involved here. Perhaps Tom, the president, who answered the users question above can shed some light on it.

Last edited by bdnseo : 04-21-2006 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 04-21-2006   #7
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Brand new, multiple sites, no privacy policy in place. Nice setup for a data mining operation, eh?
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Old 04-21-2006   #8
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click fraud detection?

"Click fraud detection" or "pay per click statistics collection". Frankly, I am skeptical of any of these companies sniffing my PPC data. You are giving them a road map to compete with you. No reliable contact details on the site, a bunch of confusing domain re-directs and linking.

Data collection under the veil of "helping out the user with a free service"... classic.

Could be just badly implemented... as I stated the other site in the footer has built up some juice and it does link back... but I am left confused at best and that is not going to make me give up my PPC data to a stranger.
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Old 04-21-2006   #9
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statements on site

But isn't Click Forensics reporting open to interpretation?
Of course. But, most PPC advertisers currently rely totally on what their providers tell them. Prudent business suggests that it is better to have more information on your side rather than less. Our software has been designed to adapt to change as the industry changes. As we move closer to an industry standard, you can be a primary contributor to finding an answer by participating in our ongoing research projects.
This and other assorted BS in the FAQ. My advice, don't sign up.
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Old 04-21-2006   #10
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Originally Posted by bdnseo
Data collection under the veil of "helping out the user with a free service"... classic.
Whoa now! Some of us do provide a free service to advertisers. I have yet to ask for $1 for an advertiser to use VeriClix.

I responded about this service back in February to a similar thread:
Quote:
So far I have only looked from the outside in, however it seems that they feel a larger sampling of data is key. However, they may be trying to use one definition of click fraud against all advertiser's data. While I applaud anyone's effort's in this field, trying to place one definition of click fraud amongst many advertisers in many different markets with customers in many different phases of the sales cycle and with advertisers having many different goals for their pay per click campaigns I don't see how a larger sample could benefit each individual advertiser.
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Old 04-21-2006   #11
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I do agree that any attempt to stem the tide of click fraud is a great thing, but I believe that the business model is the reason for all of our skepticism.

If they asked for a few hundred dollars a quarter / year I would have probably been down with it...

I would like to see more on the site that proves legitimacy and control of privacy information...

Link building would not be enough to give benefit for running a program like this... I just dont see the cost-benefit for doing this. Hence I think that it’s a scam or at least a good idea that has been poorly thought out and delivered to a forum where people know what they are doing and have been doing it for quite some time.

JMO -
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Old 04-30-2006   #12
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Our software has been designed to adapt to change as the industry changes. As we move closer to an industry standard, you can be a primary contributor to finding an answer by participating in our ongoing research projects.
Sounds like that's the goal - research.
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Old 04-30-2006   #13
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Originally Posted by bdnseo
Frankly, I am skeptical of any of these companies sniffing my PPC data. You are giving them a road map to compete with you. No reliable contact details on the site, a bunch of confusing domain re-directs and linking.

Data collection under the veil of "helping out the user with a free service"... classic.
For all such doubting Thomases, one option is to take the open source click fraud code from Visitlab and set up your own top-secret detection engine on your own server. But use something, damnit.

I have suggested to a couple of journalists that they should write about this scepticism that leaves advertisers at the mercy of fraudsters rather than trust their precious data to third parties. I use both VeriClix and Visitlab.
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Old 04-30-2006   #14
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JoinTheNetwork had a booth at AdTech in San Francisco this past week. I spent a while talking (I believe with Shane Wall whose ClickForensics card I have) and came away impressed.

While I haven't yet read the fine print on their site(s), Shane answered initial questions I had about privacy concerns, data mining, methodology, and business model more or less to my satisfaction.

They're using lots of different ways of analyzing simultaneously, so if someone flushes cookies or whatever, they have other things to look at the situation. Shane feels that having the tracking code on many pages in a site beyond the landing page, eg, might help analyze navigation patterns through a site to strengthen click fraud assertions (my phrasing... hoping I'm not putting words in his mouth).

I've got to confess that I am still a bit reluctant to put their tracking code on all my pages... but I was assured that the data is private and wouldn't be used for data mining. It was a strong assurance, not the weasily kind of assurance you get in many privacy policies. The exception, I assume, is that the data is used for pattern analysis for determining click fraud.

The business model, as I understand it, is to give smaller customers free click fraud analysis and alerts in exchange for the data which builds up the size of the network's data base. It lets the network (I haven't figured out which company is which either ) provide better service for their large enterprise customers who do pay and support them.

We didn't go into detail on how the size of the database helps, but I would guess that the larger the database is, the easier it is, eg, to spot and correlate sources of click fraud. This is conjecture on my part. I'm also conjecturing that the methodology might be secret in much the way that spam detection methods are secret, and that if you talk about it too publicly, then you're tipping off the spammers or the people doing the click fraud. (I didn't push Shane too hard on what the methods were, though, so it's not as though he wasn't forthcoming. I just didn't ask).

I'd like to hear from people who've tried the service or looked into it further, and I'd encourage the ClickForensics people to post here and answer questions.
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Old 05-02-2006   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert_Charlton
JoinTheNetwork had a booth at AdTech in San Francisco this past week. I spent a while talking (I believe with Shane Wall whose ClickForensics card I have) and came away impressed.

While I haven't yet read the fine print on their site(s), Shane answered initial questions I had about privacy concerns, data mining, methodology, and business model more or less to my satisfaction.

They're using lots of different ways of analyzing simultaneously, so if someone flushes cookies or whatever, they have other things to look at the situation. Shane feels that having the tracking code on many pages in a site beyond the landing page, eg, might help analyze navigation patterns through a site to strengthen click fraud assertions (my phrasing... hoping I'm not putting words in his mouth).
If it's just on the strength of that, then I don't really see a reason to trust them, nor do I see why this service might be better than any other system that involves tracking users with similar code.

You certainly don't need to track users through a site to determine that clicks are fraudulent. 99% of fraudulent clicks whether bot-initiated or manual will not make it past the page they clicked on, and many won't even load the whole page. It isn't rocket science. It's fake clicks. Why do I need Analytics Code Install #438 to tell me what the other stats I have already show? Long ago, when Clicktracks began showing people how to customize the report to show path analysis broken down by paid & unpaid search referrals, they often showed rather garish numbers, such as -- on the paid side, over half the clicks didn't stay longer than a second. (It's probably better now... on Google, at least.) The numbers got worse if you were buying from second-tiers in most cases, which is why everyone stopped buying from the second-tiers, with a few exceptions. In essence what I'm saying is many in the industry have lots of good numbers & insights on this already, and many needed adjustments have been made... and campaign management techniques have tended to evolve (or people would be losing their shirts in PPC).

At the extreme, companies like Looksmart evolved towards sending nearly all "bad" traffic. Everyone stopped buying from Looksmart, because this was obvious from any rudimentary analytics you might've wanted to use.

For the most part, even if there is the slightest suspicion about the referring URL's, we don't want the traffic. The question is, what to do about this. If some of these services are a good way of putting some collective pressure on the major content network vendors to do a better job of policing rogue publishers, then bravo. I can certainly see the value of that.

Most of the major analytics firms have all the fundamentals in place to do the same as the "fraud specific" technologies, but better.

At best, these "fraud specific" services seem to be selling a feature to an audience hungry for specifically that feature. But they aren't necessarily offering a full-fledged product as their competitors (the analytics firms) do, nor do they offer a clear roadmap towards getting refunds from traffic vendors who are themselves doing a lot to audit clicks.

Knowledge is power and all that, so that can be a sales pitch that will convince some. Then again, someone is always trying to put more code on my site, or sell me a feature I don't need. Ultimately the site owner has to decide whether to place faith in such services, but it's hard to do so when they pop up out of the woodwork based on the "anti click fraud bandwagon."

Nearly anyone who is asking to put code on my site or to invest in a hosted analytics service today needs to be stronger on the privacy policy front. Most really do enjoy seeing your data. Few really strike me as having an ironclad sense of the propriety of your data.
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Old 05-02-2006   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by an52
For all such doubting Thomases, one option is to take the open source click fraud code from Visitlab and set up your own top-secret detection engine on your own server. But use something, damnit.

I have suggested to a couple of journalists that they should write about this scepticism that leaves advertisers at the mercy of fraudsters rather than trust their precious data to third parties. I use both VeriClix and Visitlab.
Journalists *love* to write about the click fraud controversy! And nearly all have them have never logged into a single paid search interface, or managed a single campaign. It's all just sound bites.
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Old 05-02-2006   #17
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Originally Posted by andrewgoodman
Knowledge is power and all that, so that can be a sales pitch that will convince some. Then again, someone is always trying to put more code on my site, or sell me a feature I don't need. Ultimately the site owner has to decide whether to place faith in such services, but it's hard to do so when they pop up out of the woodwork based on the "anti click fraud bandwagon."
You're painting with broad strokes here. There are a few of my colleagues in the click fraud space who trying to help advertisers and affect change. Some of it you can see, like the existence of VeriClix, and some of it you can't...yet.

There are those of us in this industry that if tomorrow click fraud could be stamped out to a whisper of a problem than it currently is for advertisers, that we would consider it a great success, without placing funds in our pockets in the process. Some people take up a cause as their own and try and make a difference and worry about how they can best help others rather than just themselves. I'm fortunate to be associated with a few of these people.

True, journalists don't manage PPC campaigns and seek credits where credits are do, however I don't do interviews and write for huge publications either. It's up to the interviewed professionals to educate and support their claims.

I've discussed click fraud technologies with web analytics firms before and I can say that they, in and of themselves, are not an end-to-end solution for PPC auditing. The one's I have talked to have neither the expertise to properly audit for click fraud (or don't want to invest the resources to do so) nor do they have (or want to give) the time to help advertisers understand what data they are providing or help them in securing credits they may deserve.
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Old 05-03-2006   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewgoodman
Journalists *love* to write about the click fraud controversy! And nearly all have them have never logged into a single paid search interface, or managed a single campaign. It's all just sound bites.
Fully agree. I was interviewed by Wired for the Jan 2006 issue and I connected the writer with a former client who solved a click fraud problem with Overture/YSM relying only on his logs and a sharp eye, and not on the Whosclickingwho service he has been paying for almost two years but has probably never logged on.

I am an occasional freelance journalist but with a day job and my own affiliate sites, I don't write for others anymore. However, I try to contact the ones who have written about the gee-whiz aspects and ask them to write about the bloodymindedness of advertisers who trust Google and Yahoo but not some "unknown" third party with their click data.
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