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Old 10-13-2004   #41
projectphp
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I'd say that if you are paying anyone $60K per year, and it takes them 8 hours to read reports generated by click fraud detection software and contact the rep, you might oughta think about replacing the $60K per year guy AND the company supplying the supposed anti-fraud software...The whole point of the software is to do much of the analysis for you.
I dunno. I have never seen any software that made any process 100% automated.

It seems to me that if you checked click fraud once a week for half an hour, not unreasonable after logging in and havinga quick look, and then actually discovered something, put it in a report and fired it off to a search engine, that is a minimum of 5 hours work. That is still $150 you need in refunds to make it a break even proposition. Throw in a half hour call from the rep and its 5 and a half hours.

If an SEM had multiple clients, the figure may be shorter per account, but still, you gotta find something and get something back to make this worth the effort. Depending on how this is billed, it may never be cost effective.

People rarely factor time into ROI equations, and even if 50% of clicks are fraudulent, how many of those can be positively identified? And how many need to be, on a monthly basis, to make the whole project worth the effort?

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So, are you really saying you think it's ok for me to run my perfect little click fraud bot on your clients - just to give me that extra edge and to prove savings and better ROI to MY clients?
I can tell you exactly what I am saying: spend resources where they have the best effect. Simple idea, but often lost in the flow.

This makes the question: what is the expected ROI on click fraud detection? Not is click fraud ok, not how to stop click fraud, but is it worth spending to detect it. If you do choose to walk that road, are there effective counter measures that are ROI positive?

This is not a question of absolutes. As an analogy, the question isn't is it OK that Microsoft engages in monopolistic practices, but what can a competitor do about these practises, and waht is the most effective? Sometimes right and wrong aren't the issue, but what practical steps can individuals take concerning said rights and wrongs.

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After all, if the "fraud industry" is allowed to evolve and grow too much this could hit the engines very hard.
So what are the best ways to deal with this? Employ detailed click fraud analysis at a cost to a business for "the greater good"? Start lobbying for the engines to do this for businesses? Let it go, and focus on your own business and maximising ROI? I really don't know, but a lot of comments in forums on this issue don't seem to address any practical, useful and cost effective solution as the starting point, and just assume it is worth doing.

I do think, though, that for a large agency or SEM vendor, click fraud detection software rolled out accross many campaigns could be cost effective, and a mighty good USP, whether it actually works or not

For the SE themselves, tightened click fraud detection will become an increasingly important issue as a marketing and PR issue. I have no doubt they have already started writing their propoganda on this for when the S**t does hit the fan.

Last edited by projectphp : 10-14-2004 at 12:33 AM. Reason: Spellign ;)
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Old 11-03-2004   #42
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Google/Aol Fraud

I too was tapped by Google for 10K over 2 months. I discovered it through my web analytics where I saw a surge in traffic on several days on one particular keyword from JUST netscape.

While I did get a refund and Google claims that the sudden surge of traffic (that didn't convert at all) it is due to "high traffic keywords" showing up as a quick search on the home page of Netscape, it sounds like AOL's army of programers are hard at work making their numbers. I have since searated my content and search terms into different buys so I can better track and stop this keyword on my content group.
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Old 11-03-2004   #43
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Hold on, did this issue cost you $10K, or was that your total spend?

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... it sounds like AOL's army of programers are hard at work making their numbers.
That is a bit unfair. So I had a look into it. You said Google claimed:
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..it (the high traffgic no results) is due to "high traffic keywords" showing up as a quick search on the home page of Netscape
At this very minute, http://netscape.com/ lists the hot searches as:
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Hot Searches:
1. Electoral Map
2. George Bush
3. John Kerry
4. Election Results
5. Oprah Winfrey
That sort of feature, a quick link to popular searches, is bound to attract attention. If the searches were commercial, they would get clicks. NNow, that isn't click fraud whatsoever.

In fact, I would personally say this is an example of extraordinary customer service, as Google paid you back for clicks you received that were legitimate, but just didn't convert. Man, how good is that? Count your lucky stars. I bet a newspaper wouldn't be so kind.

There are so many ways to minimise the effects of this sort of thing (starting with not showing ads outside of Google), and in an automated system, Google can't be held absolutely responsible if people don't have a full grasp of the system and its nuances.

IMHO, thumbs up to Google for a nice bit of good old fashioned customer service, and not sticking to the hardline, letter of the law and screwing a customer over.

Last edited by projectphp : 11-03-2004 at 05:18 PM. Reason: Spellign :)
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Old 11-04-2004   #44
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That was the "fraud" amount

10K over 2 months was the "fraud"... I spend close to 50K/month so I am a good customer... and yes, Google does have good customer service and this is an example of that, however for you to state the I don't understand the nuance of the system...

As I stated, the Netscape quick search was Google's guess, they offered no proof to back it up, nothing to say that for sure that on those days with significantly higher traffic on that keywork from Netscape that it WAS a quick search item... just a guess. Had they provided me with that sort of info to back up the conjecture I would be more beliving. But guess what, since the refund in the summer it has NOT happened again. They moved on to someone else... I was watching.

I may have been harsh on AOL, however I think Google is going be less critical of someone like AOL than on your local content provider. It just seemed like an excuse. And if the quick search is generating all these hits and no converts it is a money machine for AOL/Google. That got an extra $1,000/day out of me each time they did it.

As for breaking out the content and search to separate groups, I have done that and it allows me to "shut off" the keyword for the content group if I need to. I needed to break it out because the keyword is to important in search and normally converts at 5-10% on content. Google and Overture have no way of just shutting off one content provider, this would be more useful and would give media buyers greater control over this issue, find a content provider that is wacking you.. black list them for your keywords and keep everyone else.
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Old 11-04-2004   #45
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10K over 2 months was the "fraud"
Even in quotes, that is still the wrong word, and, IMHO, this is still the wrong thread. In many ways, it deserves its own thread.

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..the Netscape quick search was Google's guess, they offered no proof to back it up, nothing to say that for sure that on those days with significantly higher traffic on that keywork from Netscape that it WAS a quick search item...
So, do you believe them? I personally would tend to. Which again, comes back to unbelieveable customer service. I know of very few other advertising models that give money back simply for low conversions.

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nd if the quick search is generating all these hits and no converts it is a money machine for AOL/Google. That got an extra $1,000/day out of me each time they did it.
The reason SEO/M is so good and converts so well is because it is a conscious decision. People search for what they want. Someone seraching for "Buy plane ticket online" wants to do just that. 5 "Hot Searches" links change that paradigm. Now, people who are just bored or lazy will click on the link, and probably (being bored and lazy) the first result, a CPC AdWord link. Tire kickers never convert, and a aimless link follower is the ultimate tire kicker.

Now, while I get your concerns, this issue is far more productive to everyone as, instead of a complaint / "fraud" issue, we address it as a tip and something to look out for. And what a tip: Netscape's quick Searches, if they are words you bid on, can cause budgets to absolutely blow out, and fast. In your case, it was $1,000 per day. That is a massive ammount to potentially save, and a tip well worth knowing!!

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Google and Overture have no way of just shutting off one content provider...
And that, I agree 100%, would be an excellent feature.
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Old 11-04-2004   #46
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Would love a few more details about how this occurred etc.
Could you detail it with links to examples etc?
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Old 01-03-2005   #47
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70%+

Hi,

I recently worked with two separate clients that had experienced click fraud in excess of 70% of click-through traffic, they were both advertising on primary ad networks.

The quality of content network partners is a major factor in both of the cases above, refunds were made due to bad affiliates milking the system (similar in methodology to the Google law suit announced recently) and the ad network failed to detect the fraud even though the volumes of referrals were simply outrageous.

I will document the aboves cases on http://www.clickfraud.com/ (free click fraud info site) if I can get permission to do so from the affected businesses, there may be search network NDA's that prevent me but I will look into it.

Adam
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Old 01-03-2005   #48
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Thanks Adam....
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