Detect Click Fraud

What should you do about click fraud? Are the measures you are currently taking assuring that you are not a victim of click fraud? Should we trust the PPCs to be the only buffer against click fraud?

The fact is that PPCs have to perform a somewhat adequate job of combating fraudulent clicks. If they didn’t, then word would get out and they would be in turmoil.

By the same token, PPCs have a vested interest in DOWNPLAYING the problem. Think about it, if word got out that click fraud was an extreme problem, this would cause a series of events that would result in PPCs losing a lot of money. Advertisers would become gun shy, and the bidding wars would slow down, driving down advertiser expenditures.

So, the PPCs have a vested interest in downplaying the problem. No one is saying they are criminals, or doing it maliciously.

The point is that advertisers should NOT leave the only detecting of fraudulent clicks to the PPCs. Even if none of them are dishonest, you are still allowing them to be the only ones to put measures in place to stop people from making them more money.

Allowing the PPCs to be the only measure to keep track of fraud is the equivalent of saying to your credit card company, “Go ahead and bill me, but don’t worry about sending me a statement. I trust you.” Who would do that? Well, in this case, many people are doing that.

The People Doing It
There are 2 groups of people that comprise the majority of people you need to worry about.
1. Competitors
2. PPC Content Partners

How They’re Doing It:
1. People in foreign countries clicking on your ads.
2. Spiders, Crawlers, Bots, Trojans

The People Doing It

Competitors
Let say you are bidding against someone for the term – insurance. Competitors have been known to use several methods of driving up the bid costs, so their competitors will be forced to lower their bids. The malicious company can either keep their same bid and have the number 1 ranking or lower their bid and still have the number one ranking. Click here to find out how they’re doing it.

PPC Content Partners
These content partners receive usually 50% of what the advertiser pays on every click. The PPC Engine receives the other 50%. It is EXTREMELY lucrative for these content partners (Remember it’s on pace to be a $3 BILLION industry in 2004.) Some of these content partners give in to the temptation to make easy and malicious millions by hiring people in other countries to click on ads or create sophisticated software programs to click on company ads.

How They’re Doing It

People in Foreign Countries Clicking on Ads

There are accounts of people in foreign countries randomly clicking on websites and generating income for themselves by doing so. An India Times Article states, “A growing number of housewives, college graduates, and even working professionals across metropolitan cities are rushing to click paid Internet ads to make $100 to $200 (up to Rs 9,000) per month.” In the same article, clickers say they get paid $7 for every $50 earned through clicks.

Anonymous Proxy Servers
People use regular or anonymous proxy servers because several users use 1 IP. For example, several people can visit your website from AOL under 1 IP, so its hard to detect. However, patterns can be found that these fraudsters use frequently. Also, we have a list of anonymous proxy servers that you want to stay away from. There is no reason why anyone would use an anonymous proxy server unless their up to something fishy.

Spiders, Crawlers, Bots, Trojans

Some fraudsters write software applications that will use automated clicking methods to click on PPC listings. These applications are getting more sophisticated as companies are working to identify them. These applications are getting closer and closer to simulating human behavior, which makes them harder to detect. This is why you need an expert.

Also, Trojans are sometimes uploaded on shareware sites. When they are downloaded they stay on a person’s computer and randomly click away. Here again, would you take your own preventive measures to fight shareware, or would you use an established software