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Old 01-18-2006   #1
Discovery
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Click Fraud Report Gets Laugh From Yahoo Rep

On Tuesday Jan 17 over a 4 hour period from about 1pm to 4pm one of our keywords which previously produce 1 or 2 clicks a day within content match generated 2,134 clicks and charged up over $5,199 dollars.

NO CONVERSIONS

My conversation with Y! rep Shawn didnt go very well.
She requested all the usual information which I provided and then informed me that they would investigate... it will take 10 days to come to a conclusion. Then she adds that tax season is here and it looks like these clicks could be legitimate!!!

I informed her that the account was offline with a negative balance and the client was not willing to eat the 5k and add another 10k (three times the avg daily spend due to the click fraud) to turn it back on. In addition to the 5k now they lost the leads normally coming from Y!. Also they would not wait 10 days for an investigation. I told her we wanted a refund today and answers as to why in 10 days. She flippantly said this was not possible. I informed her my client was meeting with their lawyer in 15 minutes as this was the 3rd time in 3 months that this has happened and would seek legal action to recover their funds if a refund was not provided in 24 hours.

Shawns repsonse

SHE LAUGHED OUT LOUD

Now I see on Overture this message:

Billing Transaction Detail Report Delay
Please note, from 5:00pm Tuesday, January 17 until the 23rd the Billing Transaction Detail report within your account will not be up to date. However, your account balance will be accurately updated during this time. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Are these two events related? Massive fraud occurs then Y! shuts down reporting so advertisers dont go into a frenzy?

Has anyone else experienced a massive click fruad event yesterday?

Needless to say this situation has tossed a vat of fuel on the long burning fire between my company, my clients and Y!

I will not air my own battle here, but will inform you of the details that may benefit others when dealing with Y!. Once I get it past legal I will post the recorded call and you can hear for yourself the voice of Y! using her condesending flippant tone of voice.

If a refund is not given within 24 hours I will make it my personal crusade to inform every business owner I meet of my experiences with Y!. And look for my forthcoming book

Y! oh Y!
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Old 01-18-2006   #2
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that hurts!

I had a similar experience with Y for a client where one of the phrases that were getting charged for clicks were not even in the active list! Go figure...didn't get a refund though.

Same thing happened with Ask.com for a phrase that clocked me $2,000 in 1 day but they agreed to refund. So in that case, Ask had better customer service and at least they admitted to click fraud.

What really sickens me with the big guys like Y and G is that they portray themselves as the Click Fraud Crusaders but when data is presented all they say is "It appears to be regular human behavior!"

Last year, I submitted click fraud activities to G where phrases that were clicked more than 5 times in 30 seconds!! 30 seconds...how many times can someone click BACK and then Click on the same ad? What are the chances? But G said it's normal - I give. G also said if it was more than 10 clicks then we would worry...so the following report I included clicks with 10+ consecutive clicks...

The response: " Seems like natural human behavior!" - I give up with these guys
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Old 01-18-2006   #3
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Karma

It will come back to haunt Y!

I tell this story this jokingly

Store owner:
"Officer a man just came into my store put a gun to my head, beat me with a stick, stole all my money but left a dime on the counter for a chicklet."

Officer:
"Well it looks like he did conduct some legitimate business, but I'll investigate and see if any crime has been committed and get back to you next month.
In the meantime keep your store closed as a safety precaution."

=========

I have not been hit with a major click fraud event on google and I've been advertising there since adwords' inception. I know there is some fraud but its just not as rampant. Y! on the other hand is rampant according to our stats.

Well I have to leave it to the legal team and get focused back on the core business. Can't let a thing like this distract you too much.

Cheers - Discovery
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Old 01-19-2006   #4
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We didn't see any unusual click activity from Y on 1/17. However, compared to other industries, we don't get a lot of click fraud.

Discovery, I totally believe what you say about the rep laughing. The one time I think we were hit with click fraud, no one laughed, but they didn't give us a refund, even though I provided what I thought was cut and dried data showing fraud. Since then, I haven't even bothered. But like I said, it's not a huge issue for us, luckily.

Either way, the reporting outages on Y are just totally too frequent and unacceptable.

Let us know how this turns out.
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Old 01-19-2006   #5
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I know you're not naming many names but is it wise to be posting this here if you have lawyers revving up? You'll let them wheel in defamation as a standard defence.

On the other hand, if you're not worried, I'd love to know the outcome of this particular dual.
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Old 01-19-2006   #6
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If you look at some of yahoos partner sites that display Yahoo ads, they give away money for you searching on their site and clicking on ads. One for instance says that they will give some of the ad revenue to charity. They don't say how much but they say some. I think this leads to click fraud and should not be allowed.
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Old 01-19-2006   #7
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Quote:
Billing Transaction Detail Report Delay
Please note, from 5:00pm Tuesday, January 17 until the 23rd the Billing Transaction Detail report within your account will not be up to date.....
It is my understanding that this message relates to the integration of Overture and Yahoo! accounting systems - an accounting event scheduled a while back - and has nothing to do with your specific case.

In Australia, we get billed via Overture Ireland - we also get the same message - and we were told in advance by Overture.
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Old 01-19-2006   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_D
In Australia, we get billed via Overture Ireland - we also get the same message - and we were told in advance by Overture.
That really annoys me actually. Surely if they are billing us in AUD for services supplied by Overture Australia, they need to include GST? I've asked the question but it was completely ignored.
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Old 01-20-2006   #9
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Record your calls...

If you use Skype for calls, install the cool little program called Pamela to record them. All you have to do is tell them you're recording the call to be legal. I've been using this and found that my service levels are going WAY UP! It's like magic....

I say... "Your call may be recorded because I like to play them back at parties for fun." ... it's legal and gets a chuckle... and then we go on to talk.

http://www.pamela-systems.com

Sc


ps: I've nothing to do with them, and that's not an affiliate link.
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Old 01-20-2006   #10
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no kidding

"I told her we wanted a refund today and answers as to why in 10 days. She flippantly said this was not possible. I informed her my client was meeting with their lawyer in 15 minutes as this was the 3rd time in 3 months that this has happened and would seek legal action to recover their funds if a refund was not provided in 24 hours."

So you gave a large, public company at most 24 hours to refund $5K and you are surprised the rep laughed at you?

I'm not saying that they shouldn't take your request seriously and a bit more professionally. All the engines need to do more in this arena. But your approach yielded a predictable short term result.
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Old 01-20-2006   #11
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YM Clickfraud experience

I had a similar experience last year but only on Content Advertising. We did get our refund in a timely way. In my experience - DON'T DO CONTENT ADVERTISING! - Even the rep didn't know where the ads were available to see.
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Old 01-20-2006   #12
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A few things at issue

Understand that there are really four types of clicks and three of them are bad.

Click fraud - Straight out attempts to clean out your bank account.
Junk Clicks - from a variety of junk websites mostly in YPN
Foreign clicks (or clicks from outside your service area)
and of course the one good type

Legitimate clicks from reputable search and content sites.

What is really at issue here is not if we can provide enough data to make our case for a refund. It's my belief that the bigs have the data necessary to refund when called for without our involvement. Its weather or not they want to forego the revenue stream that these "bad clicks" deliver.

Google has already made their direction pretty clear by offering tools to remove domains the client does not want (although there is a 25 limit). They also ensure all clicks from foreign countries are stopped. Y! has not made such changes nor do they have any plans to in the near future.

Arb I understand what you're saying, however you could flip that exact statement and say a company with that much money shouldn’t worry too much about 5k they should worry more about their reputation and what damage could be done.. this thread is testament to what can happen. Plus what you don't know is how much we spend at Y! each month..I can assure you, if you were receiving this kind of revenue from a customer you would gladly refund 5k to keep the client spending.

I have had a conversation with Sr. Yahoo management and our company has also compiled more technical information about the event, unfortunately I can’t disclose this info at this point.

Discovery
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Old 01-20-2006   #13
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I will be most excited when MSN AdCenter goes publicly live and I can choose to direct client spend on MSN apart from Yahoo. For some keywords - always non-competitive ones, YSM returns great value. But as soon as a term gets competitive conversion rates plummet, clicks from off-the-wall sites jump, and costs go up, up, up.

One thing I've found with Yahoo - they will treat you really well if you spend enough with them. I was running a client campaign on a new account and as soon as our daily spend ramped up they started returning phone calls promptly and leaving first names for gold-level support advocates. I don't blame them for wanting to keep their big advertisers happy, but it is unfortunate that they don't provide better service to everyone!
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Old 01-21-2006   #14
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Quote:
laughing...
Unbelievable, i got nothing not even a respond yes, the rep took my complain and the 10 days are now about 90 days. I do not even care to contact them b/c i know the respond. They take our money and then laugh... what a way to do business.

The one thing i don't understand, how they are justified for every 10 clicks one will be from Yahoo or MSN and the rest from unknown web sites that never convert. Yahoo you are getting worst and worst
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Old 01-21-2006   #15
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Quote:
Google has already made their direction pretty clear by offering tools to remove domains the client does not want (although there is a 25 limit). They also ensure all clicks from foreign countries are stopped. Y! has not made such changes nor do they have any plans to in the near future.
Big different, with Google you can select search only that will include Google search, AOL and some other big players with a smaller chance of click fraud.

Yahoo on the other hand will allow anybody and everybody to join and be a search partner and provide you with traffic, real or not Yahoo will charge you full price for it
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Old 01-29-2006   #16
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Response to the potential click fraud at Yahoo

Hi Discovery,

I want to comment on your post. First it's very unfortunate that a company like Yahoo has people on board who do not respect their job or the company they work for enough to treat their clients with respect. I guess the truth is this happens at most major companies. This lady you had dealings with in my opinion should be blacklisted from all major corporations and forced to work only within the fast food industry.

I actually had something very similar happen on the 25th on this month. $228.20 of a fresh $300 deposit was sucked out in one day from one IP address. Usually my daily charges amount to only a few dollars if that.

I am convinced this is indeed click fraud as no leads whatsoever came of this traffic. This alone is impossible. I believe this happens much more than it should industry wide and the search companies are not going after the folks that are doing it. After all it is driving the search companies profits.

At any rate, what I really wanted to tell you is that in this case I realized that it could have been prevented through my own actions by turning off the Content Match. This is Yahoo's version of Adsense which broadcasts their search content to third party web sites. Through Sponsored Search you will only receive traffic from Yahoo.com and other search engine partners. From my experience this is quality traffic.

I do have an email in to Yahoo Search along with my raw data log. Whether they give me credit or not, I have already decided not to hold this against Yahoo (Overture) mainly because they have been a great partner providing me business since 1999.

All the best,

Last edited by Chris_D : 01-29-2006 at 10:30 PM. Reason: Sorry, no sigs - see http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/faq.php?faq=vb_user_maintain#faq_sigfiles
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Old 01-30-2006   #17
Discovery
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Junk Click - An update

Well it has been a couple weeks since the infamous laugh and I wanted to provide an update on my experiences. I'll try to be brief.

I did receive a call from Sr. Management at Y! a couple days after the $6k plus charges for clicks that returned NO conversions.

They started out saying they were going to provide a refund, and they did, in excess of the 6k. And I know that in sales when somebody tells you they are going to give you what you want, shut up and take it, no matter what else is said. Here are a few important statements Y! left me with.

Turn off Content Match -
Why did you turn it on in the first place they asked? You had poor results there in the past.

We're going to give you a refund of $$$, even though I'm confident we'll prove you wrong within a day or two.

Our CSR acted according to our policies, she escalated the event to the necessary people and made sure the situation was addressed.

We want to have a long term and trustworthy relationship with our advertisers, that is why I am calling you now.

The Y! CSR's may sound like they don't believe you sometimes because our systems are so accurate that they come to rely upon their information 100% and sometimes forget to take the customers experience into consideration.

And finally, they asked that I work with them by providing as much information as possible to help them get to the bottom of the larger issue... junk clicks.

My first reaction was that why in the world should I spend my time solving their shortcomings. And why should I have to jump up and down and throw a fit to get attention and in my view a deserved refund. I felt that they wanted a thank you from me. I thought about this for a while and have come to this conclusion. I'm in this game for the long run and it is obvious change is needed. Complaining without providing solutions is a counterproductive endeavor and far too common in our society today. So I have decide to leave my distaste for this incident behind and instead be positive and pro-active in coming up with constructive solutions.

I have suggested this idea here before and now my company is going to follow through with it. We are creating a website where search marketers can submit their data regarding junk clicks. We will aggregate this information and provide results to those who submit data. Our goal is to provide the major ad networks with concise and timely information on junk click activity within their networks. The website will be junkclick.com (not currently available).
With the mod’s permission I will announce to you when the site is ready for receiving data. When the time comes I hope you will join us in making positive changes in the search marketing industry.

Cheers,

Discovery
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Old 02-07-2006   #18
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After a couple of spikes in traffic with no conversions, plus no help from Overture reps, I've adopted these strategies:
1) Turn off content match or set all content match bids to 10 cents
2) Set a daily budget

If you take these steps, you won't have these problems in the future. Note, the spike that I saw was hits from the Yahoo Buzz Index. I explained to Yahoo/Overture that these clicks should be content match since no one actively typed the searches. I have the tracking URLs on (Easy Track) so could tell the hits were Standard (search) match and not Content match. They disagreed and refused a refund. So, you still need to cap the daily budget as well as turn off or limit content matches.

Also, now I track Yahoo results very, very closely. I've made my tracking code open source. Feel free to use it to track your Yahoo/Overture traffic:
apogee-web-consulting.com/tools/track_yahoo_search_ads.html
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Old 02-07-2006   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ApogeeWebLLC
Note, the spike that I saw was hits from the Yahoo Buzz Index. I explained to Yahoo/Overture that these clicks should be content match since no one actively typed the searches.
What is the Yahoo Buzz Index? I wonder if this is affecting our Overture campaigns....

Melissa
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Old 02-07-2006   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mel66
What is the Yahoo Buzz Index? I wonder if this is affecting our Overture campaigns....
Take a look at buzz.yahoo.com - it's their "index" of searches. In my view, this is editoral content, talking about searches. But, when you click on a link from the Buzz Index, you are driven to search.yahoo.com. So, people will see search ads but will never have actively typed search keywords into a keyword box. Whenever my clients have had keywords matching what's featured in the Buzz Index, the resultant traffic has behaved very much like Content Match NOT Standard Match. I argued to Yahoo/Overture that they should either display Content Match ads on these searches or no ads.

BTW, you'll know the hits are from this Buzz garbage by checking your referrer logs. Yahoo appends query data like "fr=buzz" to the search.yahoo.com URL. So, if you have Easy Track on and check your referrer logs, you'll see Standard Match ads displayed on search pages originating from this Buzz page. That's not "Standard" traffic, IMHO.

If you don't have a budget set and you have keywords that are featured on the Buzz Index, you could get a massive spike in traffic for a short period of time that will not convert! Be very, very careful.
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