Washington Post: 'Click Fraud' Threatens Foundation of Web Ads

14 comments

Major article in this Sunday's Washington Post shouting click fraud as a rampant business and criminal problem. It reminds me of a terror or drug peice whereby they are saying "Click fraud could be right next door":

Quote:
From her home surrounded by cornfields in Dow City, Iowa, Jackie Park spends hours each day on her computer, earning half a penny every time she clicks on an Internet advertisement.
Quote:
Experts think click fraud is especially prevalent on sites affiliated with search engines.
Quote:
In New Delhi, small companies place ads in the top English-language newspapers every week looking to hire people who will use their home computers to click on text ads on certain Web sites. One ad offers the equivalent of several hundred dollars a day for spending two hours on the Internet.

or

Quote:
In Rockville, Doug Stevens runs a Web site called Mutualhits.com, which encourages Web site owners to form a network to click on each other's ads. The group has more than 2,000 members, many of whom live outside the United States, he said. When asked whether the traffic network was illegal or violated Google's rules, Stevens said it wasn't.

Just for fun - from mutualhits TOS:

Quote:
MutualHits.com is an honest marketing business supported by appropriate privacy statements, terms and conditions, user agreements, business practices and an excellent reputation in the trade that it will protect through all means available. This benefits you, your business and the online promotion and marketing businesses in general.

Now - how many people reactions like this are we going to see/hear from people after reading this story?

Comments

hmm seems like same old

hmm seems like same old news.

I forgot the link

Here's the link for the story

sigh

If anything, this article will increase click fraud. I can guarantee the number of people searching for one of these networks to join just increased.

Massive profit, mediocre growth

[moved]

I really want to be explained how Google made such massive profits when their viewership decreased by 2% from January 2006 standards, when it missed its 1Q projections and the stock tanked 25% in a few days.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Yawn.

Look Ma, Free Money!

Get me the WD-40 so I can lube the mouse up and we can click twice as fast.

Newspaper Badmouths Competitor

This story has been going around all the dead tree media companies. Google's taking big bites out of their ad income, so why not retaliate with FUD?

"dead tree" media companies

Quote:
This story has been going around all the dead tree media companies. Google's taking big bites out of their ad income, so why not retaliate with FUD?

I don't buy that. Those who work at newspapers are busy convincing their financial backers to invest in their web presence (i.e. more staff etc). Publishing articles about click fraud would only undermine this.

You may disagree with the sentiment of the article but that's not to say that it wasn't written in good faith.

Working at newspapers

Those working at newspapers are busy polishing their resumes in anticipation of major layoffs.

Publishing articles about

Publishing articles about click fraud would only undermine this.

Or maybe try to undermine the percieved value of search and ad networks to allow the premium publishers more leverage when negotiating ad deals on their valuable content.

newspapers running a risk

Quote:
Or maybe try to undermine the percieved value of search and ad networks to allow the premium publishers more leverage when negotiating ad deals on their valuable content.

Good point but if that's what they're doing the newspapers are running the risk of advertisers tarring them with the same brush if the advertisers fail to appreciate the differentiation between them and other online publishers.

It is also a clash of revenue cultures

MSM revenue is based on CPM, thus the importance of numbers (Nielsen Media Research ratings and 'sweeps' week, Audit Bureau of Circulations, etc.) in determining advertising rates.

PPC and PPA ad pricing/billing are foreign formats that actually have to deliver something beyond the ad and eyeballs. It is also more costly to impliment due to backend and monitoring requirements.

Click fraud must seem like the greatest thing since sliced bread to the MSM dinosaurs wanting to enter the web ad market.

While Google -> PPC/PPA
If PPC/PPA = ClickFraud
And ClickFraud = Evil
Then PPC/PPA = Evil
Pass Google-ClickFraud-Evil Reference ToAll
Loop

While MSM -> CPM
If CPM != ClickFraud
And ClickFraud = Evil
Then CPM != Evil
Pass MSM-CPM-Good Reference ToAll
Loop

Exactly

MSM/DTM also has major issues: circulation fraud, and the phony situation called sweeps week. I believe these problems are at least as bad as click fraud. I've seen clients pour tens of thousands of dollars into print advertising (Noooooo!) and then get ZILCH. Click fraud may reduce ROI, but at least there's still an ROI.

>undermine the percieved value

Cynic that I am, that's what came to mind.

So, if we're talking fraud and perception of value:
Federal authorities yesterday arrested three former employees of Newsday on charges of fraud for inflating circulation figures

Similar circulation scandals recently enveloped the Dallas Morning News, the flagship of Belo Co., and the Chicago Sun-Times.

And for subtle variances on inflated-readership-but-not-quite-fraud, ever notice all those magazines at the dentist's office? Many of them are comps (free!! just put them in your waiting area) ...sometimes 2, 3, or 4 copies of the same mag sent per month. Oh yeah, they expand the comp'd "total eyeballs" by a somewhat arbitrary multiplier ...the assumption being that they are placed where many readers will see them. Soooo, if paid subscriptions are down and your advertisers are paying by the eyeball, what's a good circulations manager to do? Ahh, I know, just send out more comps and raise the multiplier.

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