Click Fraud: Not Just a Scam, a Sport!

An article today in MediaPost today reports that a company called Click Forensics estimates that 28 percent of the clicks on those Google and Yahoo text ads found next to search results, blogs and various web sites are fraudulent. This is to say the are clicked on with malicious intent, in order to generate revenue for the websites that host the ads.

To vastly oversimplify a very complicated process of auctions, algorithms and audacity: Let’s say an advertiser agrees to pay Google 15 cents for every click that comes from its ad to its site. Google drops the ads on sites or search results whose content corresponds to the material in the ad. Google collects 15 cents times 120 jillion for each click to the ad, or whatever its current reach is. If the ad is on a blog or web site, Google gives (say) 5 cents to the site for each click. Google keeps a dime. Advertiser gets qualified leads. Win-win-win.

Unless it turns out those clicks are generated by robots or stooges in the employ of blogs or websites that host the ads, trying to steal from advertisers 5 cents at a time–which, the report suggests, happens with 28 percent of all such clicks.

As someone with no investment in the Adwords game–and who rarely clicks on those ads–I’m not sure what all this means to the larger world of commerce. But I offer this curious observation: When the MediaPost story on click fraud showed up in my Gmail inbox, the ads below appeared next to it. I invite you to click them all–either to strike a blow for purity in web commerce or, if you like, purely for sport. It certainly won’t make me–or cost me–any money.

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Explore posts in the same categories: AdSense, advertising

3 Comments on “Click Fraud: Not Just a Scam, a Sport!”

  1. djobe Says:

    excellent point, and well written. I have always wondered why advertisers are willing to pay per click…in the years that I have been reading and surfing then net I can say unequivocally that I have NEVER made a purchase after clicking on an ad. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I clicked on an online ad on purpose. I treat online ads the same way I treat radio and TV ads, they are the cost of doing business…my desire is to go where I want and read what I want, if there is an ad on that page, I tune it out just like I tolerate the 30 second interruptions on TV.
    Maybe I am an anomoly, but I would suspect that most people ignore online ads–at what point does this bubble burst?

  2. Craig Stoltz Says:

    djobe–Now that you mention it, I can’t recall clicking on any ads more than maybe a dozen times in the past few years–if you don’t count all those times ads launched by mistake when I moused over them, clicked inadvertently when reaching for my coffee, misnavigated with a twitchy touch pad, etc.

    Of course, if the clickfraud bubble were to burst, think of the economic ramifications–all those robots and stooges out of work!

  3. hmmmmm Says:

    There just scams I meen who gives out free ps3,wiis,and Xbox360s

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