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July 24, 2004

Click-through fraud

ZDNet has an article on click-through fraud problems with search engine advertising. Basically the problem is that you could run ads on your page and employ bots or low-wage offshor labor to click through those ads. Those click-throughs generate revenue for the web site through revenue-sharing agreements with the search engines running the contextual ads.

Now, since search engine advertising is a big business, you (predictably) have fraud-detection technologies emerging to address this problem, creating another arms race:

Fraud-detection technologies are emerging to help advertisers analyse their campaigns and traffic. Some advertisers and search-engine marketing companies say they are compiling lists of sites that generate a high number of clicks but not sales.

Coremetrics, Urchin and Whosclickingwho.com are just a few that sell technology to examine click rates and sales that result from paid searches. Alchemist Media, which charges flat fees for its consulting services, has detected fraud while acting as an intermediary between search networks and marketers.

Many policing technologies can counter click fraud by analysing Web traffic logs or surfing behavior. If a page is turned every 1.8 seconds over a period of time, for example, fraud-detecting systems will flag the traffic as suspiciously uniform.

Human operations can be more difficult to detect because a wide network of people can click on ads from different computers across many regions, without a steady pattern. According to a report in the India Times, residents are being hired to click paid links from home, with the hopes of making between $100 to $200 per month.

Posted by Narasimha Chari at 07:09 PM in Current Affairs, marketing, technology | Permalink

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