Click fraud is nothing more than fear mongering.

Another day another company trying to create fear so they can sell a product.  In this case its a research report into click fraud.   At least this one isn’t sponsored by companies claiming to sell you “solutions” to click fraud.

No one can define click fraud or agree on a definition.  Yet some companies claim the high end is around 30%.   I installed javascript tracking on some of my adsense pages a while ago and i’ve collected over 8 and a half million clicks along with detailed info on each click here is what i’ve found. 

1.   One thing i’ve noticed is that around 30% of clicks are recorded more then once.   The browser must be sending multiple requests due to lag,  or something else related to the way the users machine is set up.  Seems to happen mostly for dailup users.

2.   As both an advertiser and adsense user i’ve noticed a LARGE percentage of users will use your ad as a bookmark.    Of course if you define every click where the user has no intention of buying as click fraud this can really mess up your stats.

The end result is none of this matters,  unless someone is targeting you with hundreds of thousands of click bots.  What everyone perceives as click fraud is nothing more then default user activity.   The thing that all these people researching click fraud don’t want to admit is that all this is already factored into the price.    If you notice that 20% of people coming to your site aren’t buying  because they are clicking the ad more then once,  or are using your ad as a bookmark  you are going to lower your bid by 20%.

A far bigger problem is the trash in Yahoo’s PPC program.  When you signup to advertise in the USA,  some of the terms have over 50% non American traffic.  Mostly junk traffic from Morocco, Egypt and India  coming from questionable third party affiliates that is what I would define as click fraud.

11 Responses to “Click fraud is nothing more than fear mongering.”

  1. JoaoJose Says:

    The use of adwords ads for bookmarking is also consistent with my data. Getting users to actually bookmark your site is extremely important.

  2. Markus Says:

    Good to see a counterpoint. Thanks for sharing this info.

  3. Dave Starr Says:

    The AdWords as bookmark is certainly an interesting point. As correctly pointed out one must factor this in … becuase the entire “first purpose” of an ad is to get a user to click. Obviously, the merchant’s ideal would be that every click result in a sale, but this would be an impossible ideal.

    many users don’t routinely bookmaoirk and/or can’t find bookmarks they preiously made and would use an ad instead. A majority of successful sales wil require more thna one vist as potential purchasers research the market and get themselves comfortable with their decison. I never thought of formally factoring that into my bid price, but that sound slike the best, relatively easy way to deal with the issue. Thanks for a good tip.

  4. Scott Karp Says:

    “As both an advertiser and adsense user i’ve noticed a LARGE percentage of users will use your ad as a bookmark.”

    Do you have to pay for each of these “bookmark” clicks since they pass through Google? If you do, that’s insane.

  5. Jules Says:

    I’m of the view that the sky high click rates currently seen are due to a constant flood of new entrants to the online ad market. Click fraud is not factored into their bids.

    Eventually the tide will turn, and publishers will need to deliver valuable leads, not (easily forged) clicks. And we’ll be back to CPA, CPM, rather than CPC ads.

    This will indirectly rid the engines of most of the MFA crap as it will no longer be profitable. I look forward to it.

  6. Click Fraud: Fear Mongering Says:

    […] “Click Fraud! Terrible! The world will end! By the way, wanna buy my click-fraud monitoring software?” The Paradigm Shift takes a look at PPC click fraud from another angle. They claim to have detailed info on 8.5 million clicks, and here’s what they found: […]

  7. David Burdon Says:

    Nice article. Came here via V7N.

    I would agree that click fraud should be factored into the price. Same as non-read newspaper ads and TV ads that are zipped or zapped.

    However, unlike the two traditional media examples there are businesses built on click fraud. Especially in the junk adsense (Google) and junk search engine affiliates (Yahoo).

    The only genuine solutions are to watch and analyse your traffic. Doing this across 20+ campaigns I’ve minimised fraud by unchecking the content box and seeking to gain most of the Yahoo traffic via organic means.

  8. paisley Says:

    most of the click fraud comes from link farms or splogs. the best solution is to ONLY place PPC ads on the search engines themselves.

  9. Pay-per-click vs. rent-a-click » Mathew Ingram: mathewingram.com/work Says:

    […] with del.icio.us   |   Email this entry   |   TrackBack URI   |   Digg it   |   Track with co.mments   |   Click here for copyright permissions! Copyright 2006 Mathew Ingram […]

  10. kwa Says:

    I’m used to look at my sister’s behavior when she uses my computer to access the web. She’s a violin teacher, so she is what I call “real people” by opposition to “IT specialists”. In addition to notice she uses Google to find her Hotmail account (yes, it writes “hotmail” into Google to access to Hotmail as many users do; you already covered that subject in many posts of your blog when talking about sites’ traffic), she also double clics in my “quick lunch” icon’s list to run the web browser. I’ve also seen some people double clicking on web links as they do to open their documents in Windows’ folders. Double clicking on a link, including a sponsor’s one appears to be what (some) “real people” do.

    Google released this paper on click fraud:

    http://www.google.com/adwords/ReportonThird-PartyClickFraudAuditing.pdf

    It’s worth reading. It appears most click fraud auditing companies often report users’ common behavior as click fraud.

  11. Odin Trisk Says:

    Muitiple click being generated is usualy a sign of the machine being infested with popup advertising that is tracking and logging all click and form submissions to a 3rd party server. The popup advert malware intercepts the browser click request and then re-asserts it so the users doesn’t know any different. Obviously the software quality of malware is extremely poor and not well thought out.

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