Click fraud is a concern among internet advertisers, and with good reason. Since advertisers are usually charged by how often they get traffic from search engine ads, competitors can benefit by clicking on the number one site and driving its advertising price tag up too high to manage. Also, some companies will use hitbots to generate false traffic to their site, get revenge on a competitor or even blackmail a company. Search engines such as Google are providing refunds to click fraud victims, but are not advising their customers on how to combat the problem. Even though many search engines have agreements with their advertisers, releasing them from liability, they may end up liable due to negligence if their trend of inaction continues.
A longer version of this story for Search Engine Watch members describes the legal options available to advertisers who suspect that they've been the victim of click fraud, and the steps required to gather evidence and supporting information to take action against it.
"Click fraud has gained a lot of notoriety in the last six months, certainly in the popular press," said Jeffrey Rohrs, President of Optiem LLC.
Some of the motivations of click fraud include financial gain, competitive advantage, revenge and blackmail.
Jessie Stricchiola, founder of Alchemist Media, began by describing the financial gain click fraud "flavor."
"Google's AdSense program, generally speaking, allows the owner/webmaster of any web site---large, small, legitimate, or fluff---to become an AdSense partner," said Stricchiola.
"Because approval and management of the AdSense program is primarily algorithmic and not human-edited as in Overture," she further explained, "there has been much room for abuse---basically webmasters setting up shop with web sites purely to host content for the delivery of AdWords.
These webmasters create their own artificially-generated traffic by automated means---namely hitbots."
Therefore, in this instance of financial gain, opportunities exist to use the Google AdSense program to generate direct revenue for the fraudster.
One way to get the top bidder out of the hot spot is to stop using their keywords (on your ads) and run up your competitor's bill.
There are two primary methods of generating invalid, fraudulent clicks: manual clicking (by humans) and automated clicking (by software).
"Additionally, the two primary initiators of click fraud
are advertising competitors and CPC engine affiliates/traffic partners," Stricchiola explained.
"Overture has historically been more willing to disclose traffic data to the advertiser during the refund negotiation process, which has helped resolve some click fraud
issues more quickly," said Stricchiola.
About the author: Mike Adams is a natural health author and award-winning journalist with a mission to teach personal and planetary health to the public He has authored more than 1,800 articles and dozens of reports, guides and interviews on natural health topics, and he is well known as the creator of popular downloadable preparedness programs on financial collapse, emergency food storage, wilderness survival and home defense skills. Adams is a trusted, independent journalist who receives no money or promotional fees whatsoever to write about other companies' products. In 2010, Adams co-founded NaturalNews.com, a natural health video sharing site that has now grown in popularity. He's also the founder and CEO of a well known email mail merge software developer whose software, 'Email Marketing Director,' currently runs the NaturalNews email subscriptions. Adams also serves as the executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center, a non-profit consumer protection group, and regularly pursues cycling, nature photography, Capoeira and Pilates. He's also author of numerous health books published by Truth Publishing and is the creator of several consumer-oriented grassroots campaigns, including the Spam. Don't Buy It! campaign, and the free downloadable Honest Food Guide. He also created the free reference sites HerbReference.com and HealingFoodReference.com. Adams believes in free speech, free access to nutritional supplements and the ending of corporate control over medicines, genes and seeds. Known as the 'Health Ranger,' Adams' personal health statistics and mission statements are located at www.HealthRanger.org
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