Google PPC Click Fraud Getting Harder to Detect

PPC Conversions Disguised

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Perpetrators of click fraud are getting sneakier and sneakier. Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman has uncovered one of the more diabolical click fraud schemes known to be hatched. As he summarizes it:

Here, spyware on a user’s PC monitors the user’s browsing to determine the user’s likely purchase intent. Then the spyware fakes a click on a Google PPC ad promoting the exact merchant  the user was already visiting. If the user proceeds to make a purchase — reasonably likely for a user already intentionally requesting the merchant’s site — the merchant will naturally credit Google for the sale. Furthermore, a standard ad optimization strategy will lead the merchant to increase its Google PPC bid for this keyword on the reasonable (albeit mistaken) view that Google is successfully finding new customers. But in fact Google and its partners are merely taking credit for customers the merchant had already reached by other methods.

Do you cosider click fraud a big concern? Discuss here.

Edelman details all of the specifics about his dicovery, pointing to an example perpetrator – Trafficsolar, which he blames InfoSpace for connecting Google to. He also suggests Google discontinue its relationship with InfoSpace and other partners who have their own chains of partners, making everything harder to monitor. In his example, he finds an astounding seven intermediaries in the chain between the click and the Google ad itself.

Ben Edelman "Furthermore, Google styles its advertising as ‘pay per click’, promising advertisers that ‘You’re charged only if someone clicks your ad,’" says Edelman. "But here, the video and packet log clearly confirm that the Google click link was invoked without a user even seeing a Google ad link, not to mention clicking it. Advertisers paying high Google prices deserve high-quality ad placements, not spyware popups and click fraud."

As Andy Greenberg with Forbes points out in an article, which brought Edelman’s findings to the forefront of mainstream exposure (and likely to Google’s attention), Edelman has a history of criticizing Google, is actually involved with a lawsuit involving misplacement of Google ads, and has served as a consultant to Microsoft, but maintains that this research is not funded by Microsoft or a company involved in that lawsuit. Greenberg reports:

As for its ability to detect the new form of click fraud, Google has long argued that it credits advertisers for as much as 10% of their ad spending based on click fraud that the company detects. While the company wouldn’t comment on Edelman’s TrafficShare example, a spokesperson wrote that the company uses "hundreds of data points" to detect fraud, not just clicks.

In a report last October, click fraud research firm Click Forensics measured click fraud at around 14%, significantly higher than Google’s estimates. But even Click Forensics may not be counting the sort of click fraud Edelman accuses TrafficSolar of committing. Because Click Forensics’ data is pulled from advertisers, the company can’t necessarily detect click fraud that is disguised as real customers and real sales, according to the company’s chief executive, Paul Pellman. Pellman believes, however, that the kind of click fraud Edelman discovered is likely mixed with traditional click fraud to increase the scheme’s traffic volume while keeping it hidden.

Click Forensics’  own Steve O’Brien says "it was probably a fairly low-volume scheme to begin with.  It’s limited to machines of users that are infected with spyware who also visit select Google advertisers…It’s a problem, but probably not a huge one.  What would make it more serious is if there were another version of the spyware that simply clicks on paid links in the background without the user’s knowledge…"

As for Edelman’s suggestion that Google sever ties with Infospace and the like, O’Brien doesn’t think it is worth going that far. "A better solution would be for Google and InfoSpace to deal only with reputable partners who provide verified, audited clicks to ensure advertisers get what they pay for," says O’Brien.

Though Click Forensics appears to downplay the threat compared to Edelman’s own analysis, it shows the increasing sophistication with which fraudsters are carrying out their plots. Good times.

Do you think Google should take more action in trying to prevent new kinds of click fraud? Share your thoughts here.

Related Articles:

> How Search Engines Manage Click Fraud

> Botnets Driving Click fraud Traffic

> Massive Click Fraud Ring Shut Down

Google PPC Click Fraud Getting Harder to Detect
Top Rated White Papers and Resources
  • Stupidscript

    “Still, the burden for avoiding click fraud falls squarely on the shoulders of online advertisers themselves.”

    Really? In most other markets, the provider of a service is responsible for stopping the fraud that is being perpetrated through manipulation of the service they provide, not the consumer of that service.

    It is virtually impossible for an advertiser to monitor every click on their PPC ads, and it is similarly impossible to determine which clicks were charged for and which were not, so as to make a determination about whether/how much fraud is occurring and to be able to document a complete factual record of fraud. PPC vendors simply do not provide enough information to their advertisers to allow for either of those activities.

    That being said, Edelman and O’Brien have humongous personal interest in inflating click fraud statistics; Edelman to support his very long-running campaigns against Google/InfoSpace and O’Brien to support his business model. (Which brings into question your link to SortPrice.com, Guest.)

    THAT being said, the 14% figure O’Brien is getting behind is based on Click Forensics terribly flawed analyses, and should not be relied upon. (Sorry guys. Remember when I was working with you to develop your algorithms? Still pretty sucky.)

    Seriously, is anyone out there able to report that $140 out of every $1000 they spend on PPC is consistently going to click fraud? More like mid to low single digits.

    DO be diligent in log analyses. DO be diligent in filing requests for reimbursement from your PPC vendors for whatever you determine to be invalid clicks. DO continue to be aware that fraud is one element that affects every paid advertising participant. But DO NOT panic when reports about how click fraud is surging become public. What you see in your own log files, and in your own reports from your PPC vendors is the truth.

    • Guest


      It’s more like th eother way around isn’t is.

      140.00 out of every 1000.00 may be true visitors. Here is a great way you can tell which I noticed and kept track of for quite a while.

      Google.s Analytics shows the Visitor and the amount of time they spent on your website, plus which pages they visited.

      NOW have a close look at how many visitors clicked on your website according to Google and only spend 1 to 3 or 5 seconds on your website. That is in most cases just enough time to load let alone see what your website is about. That’s what I call a scam, fraud, cheating members.

      Think about it, you are searching for something online, you type in what your searching for, you then look at the results and you may click on one that catches you eye, are you going to click away from that website either just before it finsines loading or just as it’s loaded in you browser? or are you going to at least spand 15 to 20 seconds looking at the home page to see if they have what you are looking for. Lets be honest now.

      I was supposably getting 2500 visitors a day according to Google’s tools, but out of those 2500 plus a day visits where without actually sitting down and counting them one by one, there where at least 90 to 95% where all 1 to 2 and 5 second visits, Now I run shopping cart sites and you cannot tell me that out of 2500 plus visitors per day according to Google that only 5 to 10 persecnt stayed there for 3 to 30 minutes looking at what we had for sale.

      And according to othet tracking tools this 3 to 30 minute visitors where accountable for by them plus others that didn’t enter vis a Google link somehow which all stayed there a decent and logical amount of time.

      YES Google has the world on the parm of their hands and they can say what ever they like and make you beleive what they want you to beleive as all they are interested in at the end of the day is your money and not how much you make through them.

  • http://www.armyofangels.org.uk Army Of Angels

    i am new to google ads but have tried it and spent a small fortune in just one day. I am sure that most of the click throughs are not genuine but how do you prove it.? I will be using another method of advertising once my items arrive for me to sell. Lucky it was just a test for 1 day otherwise it could have crippled my campaign before it began.
    Any advice for generating visits to my charity site are more than welcome.

    • http://www.JGDouglas.com Jeffery

      Google accounts have free services that you can use. However, I found XML files very helpful and adding my web site. Social Networks like FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIN and similar Free networks also helped. I also use Web CEO ( http://www.webceo.com/download/index.htm ) which is also free and submits to those who are free. I also notice that you said “Charity” you should also included your Charity Number and your money is EAN. This is not very helpful, The Paypal Logo is helpful, I also see “Safe Buy” however it’s not working. Place on website a short refund policy or a link directly to it will also helps. People are getting very causes about Charity and similar websites.

      • Guest

        where did you get the logo, I can’t find it and no links go to it

  • http://www.JGDouglas.com Jeffery

    The burden for avoiding click fraud falls squarely on the shoulders of online advertisers themselves Where in other markets, the provider of a service is responsible for stopping the fraud that is being perpetrated through manipulation of the service they provide. I found it virtually impossible as an advertiser to monitor every click on PPC ads.

    I also find it similarly impossible to determine which clicks were charged for and which were not to make a determination about whether or how much fraud is occurring. To be able to document a complete factual record of PPC vendors simply do not provide enough information to their advertisers to allow for either of those activities.

    With Edelman and O’Brien have humongous personal interest in inflating click fraud statistics while Edelman support’s his very long-running campaigns against Google and InfoSpace. O’Brien support’s his business model which brings into question your link to SortPrice.com.

    PPC cost the advertiser tremendous amounts with out prevale. For one reason I know, Google CPC is about $0.28 CPC to $0.33 CPC. Now here’s how it worked for me, “No Guaranteed” of the out come.

    Can anyone out there report that $140 CPC out of every $1000.00 CPC they spend is consistently going to CPC fraud? So the Advertiser has to be on their toe’s for this. It’s not just PPC that cost it’s also the “We can Guarantee” bit that gets me the most. They can’t guarantee anything but to “Take Your Money” and that’s also with out prevale of good results.

    So, I think quite some time about the “We Can Guarantee” you this bit, but not this Offers when they start talking. If they “don’t answer” my question, then their not likely to get my business.

    I’ve even challenge them to place “IN WRITING” with legible signature handwriting or have documents Notarized only to have them come back and say “You will get this in mail “AFTER” we get you set up and payment is made, FRAUD ALERT, FRAUD ALERT, FRAUD ALERT.

    If they are indeed a legible company that “I claim to be,” they would be very willing to satisfy you the Consumer Advertiser.

    If we are going to bash one, then we need to bash them all, there all the same when they “Can Not Guarantee In Writing” to you the Consumer that you will make back that tremendous expense.

    I do understand as a “Business Person,” that I may not have what the Consumer is looking for, but I should be “UP FRONT” with them with out the snow jobs that I get and I realize this as a “Consumer Person,” that is dealing with local companies like, JEA, Charter, Verizon Wireless, and even Wal-Mart that they are companies for one reason “Money” and don’t care about your finial support.

  • http://lists2day.blogspot.com Lists2day

    I guess we should just go back to the impression-based payment to publishers. Click frauds are here to stay. Besides, as a publisher, I think we should get something for any impression as this equates to awareness. There are times that I see an ad and I don’t click right away, then I remember the ad later on and go directly to that advertised site. In this case, the publisher isn’t credited as I visited the advertised site directly.

    I just have a concern, I already delisted my email address from your newsletter but I still get them. Okay, some articles are indeed interesting to read.

    • http://www.JGDouglas.com Jeffery

      You are one in a thousand who told part truth. Right, if you go directly to the site itself, No charge has occurred to Advertiser and the PPC didn’t receive the cost or percentage. However, you fail to note one thing, The Banner PPC or link PPC which you viewed may now be encoded like this http://bit.ly/8DpJsQ ( No a charge Click which goes to my Amazon Site, ) whether or not you click the link, If you use it by typing it in the URL there will be charge. How would you know that my website is http://www.JGDouglas.com if encoded? Some PPC have already started this and others are sure to follow so they can make the Money. I would like you to be more honest about cost and help than to hear “Fraud Slogans” that I hear and get today and even had one yesterday tieing up my phone center. It’s Money to you with “No Guarantee’s” the Advertiser will make it back. I estimate that I receive about 3% viewers and 0.01% income for it. I estimate 250 direct literature ad’s where I now they read at least some that which is 100% Direct Viewers from my self literature Ad’s. I show about 85% of them that Viewed the literature followed up compared to the News Paper Ad which was 5% and cost more ( about $175.00 per day ). I tried PPC once and wont fall back to again with a 1% rate return out of the cost of $330.00. If you yourself don’t target ( Direct literature ) and track it yourself, It’s all Fraud if you ask me.

  • http://fineartoriginals.webs.com/ Guest

    I agree wholeheartedly…the more money they make …the more money they take any way they can!

  • http://www.climatechangemagneticenergy.com most deserving nonprofit research

    Not only does it not seem fair,
    How about this?
    We found a few key words that were very expensive for clicks. Then later we found some long tail key words with the same major key word in them.
    These long tailed words were a fraction of the 6 dollar words. If we remember correctly about 10 to 30 cents.
    So we began using them. After about a week or so. They did a dirty number on us and raised the costs to over 6 dollars and suspended or ability to use these words. Or we had to use the major key words. They worded it such to protect them selves to make it not visible.
    They also claimed we were not allowed to use these words. Now if that didn’t get us PO’D

    Now if that isn’t fair, then what is? These guys don’t care what you bid what you find. If it looks like they can use their tactics to force you out . They will.
    They only care about how much they can put in their pockets.

    You don’t see the bidders and their bid. Nor do you see the reason why they raise the price. It’s all hidden so you can’t judge.
    This is criminal what they do.
    They should be forced to place the bid on an open sheet so you know what the other fellow is placing. This would be fair and open.
    We hate thieves!
    If you sell a product of menial amounts and a smaller nature. You probably won’t find half the problem, but don’t compete with the bigger companies.

    Now we no longer use ppc.

    Your children may love this video,
    Swallows. A 4 min video;

    This guy has no say in what you do with this world.

    Watch these videos with your children, they are thought provoking
    Accidents like this need not happen’ A 53 second video;

    The end of the age 2012 bible commentary, UCG 30 min

  • Guest

    Seems to me that that only one who benefits from “click fraud” is the ppc vendor…..they have no incentive to stop it as the more clicks, the more they make. Always seemed a poor way of advertising to me. You are completely at the mercy of the ppc vendor to provide you accurate info as to clicks.

    • Guest

      It is a poor way of advertisement. They make it in either case not the Advertiser.

    • http://www.sciencelives.com ScienceLives

      Not just the PPC vendor would profit from click fraud. Just offhand, I can think of two other groups that would … people with ads on their site (or elsewhere) who are making money off of the clicks, and people who are clicking on competitor ads to make their competitor’s advertising dollars less profitable (and thus getting more business for themselves).

  • http://www.esspos.com wkisse

    I have also been very frustrated with Google’s “minimum bid” requirements.

    If NO ONE ELSE is bidding on the word the minimum should be $0.01!

    The only “fair” process I’ve seen is that offered by www.business.com.

    You can check your bid effectiveness REAL-TIME and make a good judgement call on who is bidding what.


  • http://ecbcnz.com/hireprofessionals Guest

    When most systems functions come under mandatory audit, why can’t PPC be put under this category?

  • http://dotcomreport.com adsense alternatives

    We all know that Google is earning billions of dollars once collected by traditional print and broadcast outlets, based partly on the assumption that clicks are a reliable, quantifiable measure of consumer interest that the older media simply can’t match.

    Google says the extent of click fraud has been exaggerated, and they stress that they combat the problem vigorously.

    • Guest

      What better way to make you stay with their fraud methods than to make you beleive they are fighting against it, beleive what you will but at the end of the day not one tracking tool will ever read the same as Goole’s tracking tools because they are fraud clicks and yet try using a dozen other tracking tools at the same time as I have and they are all so close together in thier findings that it makes Google look like they are the only ones doing the extra clicking.

  • http://www.editcnc.com Harry Powell

    I am a seller of software over the internet, and have spent many thousands of dollars with PPC.
    I have been concerned for a long time over the discrepancy between G—‘s click counts and my web activity logs. I have tried to find ways to clear this up, but have not been able to do so. I’ve suspended all four of my PPC campaigns to try other methods of online advertising or exposure enhancing.
    Time will tell if fewer sales will be offset by less advertising expense.

  • Do It Yourself

    Anyone who uses PPC have a looser for a web site. Do some reading, I hope you are capable to do that, not quite sure, if you are using PPC. lmao. Oh you want to look at optimization of web sites, you will find all you need to hot rod your site. Paying for Keywords and or phrases is out right dumb.
    If you are into investments you would do some homework and get as much knowledge on the investment world so you would have a good understanding of where your money is and what it is doing, you have control. Why not apply that to your site, take back control. Try to reverse engineer a web site, hit the source and view the HTML coding, look at the structure and keywords and wording that is used.
    A little secrete, for higher ranking, on keywords, use them in the Text of the web page, such as a information page on the article.
    It is not that hard, it just takes time to look and read.

    • http://www.editcnc.com Harry Powell

      Your rather nasty comment would be more legitimate if you learned to use proper grammar and spelling.

      • Guest

        got hit in the head with that comment. I think he put that well at lest well enough to get your comment.

      • Guest

        The comment is very legitimate when you read it as the Looser being PPC. As for reading, he simply stated that some could read if they tried. He is right about Optimization of website because I’m out there with very little expense compared to PPC and Online Advertisement. Paying for Keywords and Phrases is not a good Idea when you can do that on your site for free

        But at the same time Mr Powell of CNC Consulting Inc. with “EditCNC is the perfect companion to your CAD CAM software” money maker and all those Percentage Paying Ad’s on your website. You just didn’t like the truth now did you?

        • http://www.editcnc.com Harry Powell

          I was not disagreeing with the subject, just the nasty manner. I think my first comment shows that I have come to see that PPC isn’t a very smart way to go.
          He/she also assumed that I have not spent the time optimising (or trying to) my sites for the free listings, where in fact, I have.
          It’s interesting to note that you quoted my name and website. At least I have the cajones to not hide behind anonimity!

  • http://www.wte-ltd.co.uk WTE Ltd.

    One of our competitors openly admitted to me that he clicks rivals “untill the money runs out”.
    With this mentality, how are we ever going to combat click fraud?

  • Guest

    I run a very small specialised business here in New Zealand and also manage my own website, including using CPanel on a daily basis to analyse web visitor activity.

    Last month a local PC magazine carried a $100 Google Adwords voucher so I decided to give Adwords a try with this free voucher. In 20 days I went through $92 worth of clicks. My business is so small and personalised that I always ask new clients how they found me but not one of them said they saw my Google ad, but rather they found me through a regular Google search.

    I suspended my Adword campaign before it began to cost me anything but I am intrigued that not one of the 42 PPC’s actually brought me a new customer, and somewhat worrying I could not really reconcile, via CPanel, these supposed 42 PPC’s as actual visitors to my site.

    I am a novice with Adwords. Is there any way to determine what actual time of day a PPC occurred, so that it can be compared with one’s own CPanel logs?

    • http://www.computerizedspirit.com Guest

      My advice would be to when you use Adwords to use it together with Google’s Analytics, and this way you will be able to see the PPC visitors and everything regarding the visit – time, and how long they stayed on the page etc. The Cpanel Awstats cannot give the complete info like Analytics does, or the amount of data Analytics has.

      • Guest

        I came to the conculsion that the where both frauds as I never received the traffic flow that Google’s Analytics stated. It’s designed to work to make you beleive and they have done an extremely perfect job of making you beleive just that.

        Like any advertising company you have to be careful as they can configure analytics to have you beleive what they waht you to beleive and to get sales. Google is no different, why should I/we beleive them over everybody else when all they are at the end of the day was a company that started out deceiving the public by sending warms out on even computer to be able to detect what you do which in turn they where able to all of a sudden out of nowhere knew what everybody wanted and how they where using the internet.

        They have to be the biggest deceiving online business on the internet when it comes to marketing as all they want is that extra buck just like you/we do.

    • Guest

      I totally agree with you 100%,, they are a scam.

  • keep ont rying

    I have been at this web site buisness for over three years. I have had companys try to sell me everything under the sun. The pay per click was one on the worst ways for buisness as I fiqured that I barely broke even with alot of effort. The first thing is to have a good site with a good xlm site map. From there it is up to the user to make there site site show up. I have taken alot of classes on this and have found that 90% of the stuff out there that they tell us does not work. The good old way of hard work and keep trying is the only way. I have a site that show up on the first page of both yahoo and google in a number of key word searches and it still does mean you will get traffic. Be carefull out there. Feel free to e-mail as I do not want to see people go through the trial that I did as it cost alot of time and money.
    Good Luck to all!!

    • Guest

      keep on trying…
      yes i’d like to avail of your knowledge.please get in touch.

  • Guest

    I didn’t realize comments were only open to those that agree with you/ the authors viewpoint.. I thought journalists were proponents of free speech.

    My comments did not defend any type of click fraud. I just simply gave another viewpoint. Although many of Endelmen’s articles show merit he ALSO has a history of demonstrating a self serving over zealot viewpoint. His livelihood depends on it. I beleive this is one of those instances since the “fraud” he claims is based on what action you “think” the user is going to take.. it’s not forcing clicks etc.

    I would love to meet you for a beer so you can look me in the eye and tell me why my comments need to be censored.

  • http://officialsafetyandsecurity.com Official Safety and Security

    I used to use Google Adwords to promote my safety and security web site but concerns about click fraud caused me to stop. I paused my account and never re-activated it. Thanks, Chris.

  • http://www.arnavgupta.com seo expert services

    I am also running Adwords on client sites and also my site www.arnavgupta.com and when we see the report we feel like we also have few unwanted clicks….at one point Google revert the click amount in my adwords as well…but after that i have never seen it again.. So i can say that Google is doing hard work to minimize the click fraud…I can only say BEST OF LUCK GOOGLE!

  • http://www.arnavgupta.com/ seo expert services

    I am also running Adwords on client sites and also my site www.arnavgupta.com and when we see the report we feel like we also have few unwanted clicks….at one point Google revert the click amount in my adwords as well…but after that i have never seen it again.. So i can say that Google is doing hard work to minimize the click fraud…I can only say BEST OF LUCK GOOGLE!

  • http://thecomputergal.com Nora McDougall-Collins

    I seem to be missing a link here somewhere (a link in the writing, not a hyperlink.) The article has me rather mystified.

    Google isn’t sending out the spyware to set up the false clicks; someone else is. Now, what does the other party get out of the deal? And, if Google’s not doing it, are they paying the other guys to do it because they get more click $$$? Sounds like a bizarre partnership to me – and a stupid one to boot. However, I have seen “legitimate” web hosts advertise on sites that break every copyright rule; so, I guess I should believe that all web companies are bad.

    • Guest

      Doesn’t make sense until you consider Google’s Adsense – then you should be able to see the motivation for this type of click fraud

  • Hellen

    I think it is inescapability.
    I am using the google adwords more than two years.
    I paid $400 each month. But the gain is not satisfactory.

  • Robert


    I was using Google adwords for 18 months, It started out costing me 100.00 a week on the first month , then it jumped to 300.00 a week the secound month, and every month th eprice would go up until I got to a point I was paying $5000.00 a month.

    Thier Anylistic tools showed I was getting some 2500 visitors plus each day, and yet I was not making one single cent , I was not even getting new members. And to top that I was not even getting on first pages with Google even with this so called 2500 everyday. I then Placed I and click trackers on my website that reads the visitors that come to my website and they onlly ever read around 50 per day if that at times, yet I was paying thousands to Google each week.

    I then emailed Google after spending 2 hours searching for a conatct form on their website, Boy can they hide (I wonder why) and they told me that their anylistic tools where the best and that all the others where no true trackers and that they knew what they where doing because they had the best techical staff in the world.

    I stopped using Google Adwords all together at that point, now 12 months ago and since then , I have been getting real visitors, get new members almost everyday.

    My new anylistic tracker only states I get around 50 to 100 visitors a day and I get new mwmberships out of them.

    YES I truely beleave Google is a fraud, but they have worked out a method of doing it that can’t be traced back to them and anyone trying to argue with them, they only kill you website on Google anyway.

    I think Google is a scam. You know the funny thing about all this is, They say the own 85% of the search engine market and yet everytime I ask someone if they use google to search the internet,, I only ever get one in 20 that actually say they do use Google,, Most the others and including myself use the internet browsers search bar which is not contected to Google or any other search engine in particular, but searches the actually internet database, where of cause all the serach engines are also listed , but it’s free and not owned by Google.

    But I guess when you think about it, it’s really our fault that they get away with it, just like eBay get away with increasing fees every month or so in some way or another, These so called giants think they own us and that they can do what they want and all from using the same services you and i use everyday, The world wide web which is FREE to everyone. Yet we let places like Google and ebay get their big heads by allowing them to cahrge us for a service that is Free to them and us all.

    I have promised myself to never enter a google website again and I haven’t for 12 months now, and boy I have never been happier with my website which now has great traffic everyday and that’s without having anything to do with Google’s what ever so call webmasters tools and without even worrying how I rank by them.

    Google, what a joke they are.

    • http://ldii-sidoarjo-jawatimur.blogspot.com ldii

      Ir’s really a shocking news. If it would be true, Google is not sophisticated enough as it seems.

    • Daphne E.

      It is advertisers like youself, that do not have the wear with all it takes, to advertise with Google. Like any advertising medium you have to analysis your return on investment. This analysis should be done on a daily/weekly basis. Whether you approve of them or not, Google does have the lions share of the search market. Real advertisers know the search markets so you do not speak for the majority of real advertisers, on the internet. Unsophisticated advertisers, like yourself, are the iceing on the cake, for Google. Google has a very transparent Contact Us page and does not hide this information. It is the advertisers responsability to monitor their accounts. Obviously, if you were spending $5000.00 a month and not receiving any revenue or new memeber or whatever, something was wrong with this picture. Nobody should follow the Google Spend Recommendations. That is Google 101 and it only took you 18 months to figure it out. Some people should just stay away from advertising on the internet. Google is not perfect by any means but if you are serious about promoting your website and are diligent, there is not a more robust medium!

      Good Luck!

    • http://www.executiveedge1.com/seo.htm Allan Fine

      I totally agree with you , it will probably turn out to big one of the biggest fraud cases around, one day. Like you I got tired of wasting my money with clicks that couldn’t be confirmed or tracked . Then I thought one day what if I take courses on SEO and become a master at marketing and SEO. I did and now the money I was wasting with Google ad words and PPC goes into my SEO and marketing budget. That has really paid off , Now I teach SEO and marketing.
      Allan Fine / SEO Coach/ Lifecoach
      Phone: 403-246-7386
      Mountain Standard Time|
      Executive Edge Training
      and Lifecoaching and Consulting services.

  • http://www.myadexpert.org Mark

    I’m not trying to be positive or negative or against any comment, but I do have something to say here, Google Pay Per Click advertising is fair when the user who is using Google pay per click has done his home work, for example there is number of reasons for getting clicks but no sales:

    – Landing page

    when a user click on Ad of yours on Google the first page this user will see is the landing page of this Ad if your landing page did not have relevant information about what your Ad had from info most likely the user will click away and get distracted, for example if your website business is about mobile mechanics, you had an AD on Google says (Car service and repairs We come to you, all suburbs VIC) then when they click on your AD they go to a link to your website does not have anything with what the AD said on Google, so they just click away and keep looking, there was no phone number in big on that page, there was no quick contact form, and there was so many links but too hard to find contact us page, or the landing page that had nothing to do with the ad obviously you just lost this customer.

    – Keywords

    When using pay per click always use on your ads relevant keywords to the landing page, make sure you have a landing page optimized for this AD, always make sure your landing page has relevant keywords and information that explains your advertisement, that why the user click on your Ad from the first time, so don’t distract him with so much information and products and services keep it simple, they only want to know what the AD had from information or deal.

    – Negative keywords

    Always consider researching negative keywords so you don’t get users clicking on your AD’s when they not even looking for you or for your services, maybe someone doing research on security equipment then your AD will show up, the user will click on it to browse the link then the user clicks away, you just wasted your money, so always make sure you delete negative keywords.

    – Your website presence

    Some people judge your services and products from your website design, if you had poor website design sometimes people think you are providing cheap products and services and they click away looking for quality

    there is a lot more to say, but I can say one more thing, do what the user want you to do, be where the user want you to be, it’s not about you, it’s about your online clients how to make them find you and buy from you or use your services.

    I am happy with my Google pay per click advertising; I always get my return on investment, good luck for everyone and thank you for reading my comment.

    • http://www.qualisconsultoria.com.br Qualis Consultoria


  • http://ldii-sidoarjo-jawatimur.blogspot.com ldii

    Indeed, sometimes Google acts annoying.

  • http://udadd.com Tom Alciere

    Let’s say I have Notepad open and I’m making chages to my site. I have FTP software open and I upload the amended page, then I click on the browser window to see the changes and …ooops, I just clicked on a Google ad on my site. That is click fraud, and as an honest webmaster I don’t want the money. They probably have an allowance for this type of accident but they need to demonetize ads from my own IP address, which they learn when I log into my account. Like, if somebody logs in to check their Google stats on and then ten minutes later there are lots of clicks coming from I’m sure Google is smart enough to detect click fraud, but instead they should put NO-MONEY ADS BY GOOGLE and then display the same ads they would have displayed for a regular customer. I might actually be interested in an offer and if it’s a no-money ad then I can click on it without committing click fraud.

  • http://www.DavisTractor.com Davis Tractor Parts

    For the beginning advertiser, there’s no easy way to tell whether click are fraudulent or not.
    Clicks look the same, no everybody that visits buys, so you already have a % of non-sale visits.
    Of course, google isn’t going to make it easy for an amateur to detect fraud, thats more money for them.
    At this point, it looks like eating clickfraud costs is similar to shoplifting losses in a walkin store. If you let customers in, thieves come in with them, and theres no way to tell the difference when they come thru the entrance. But at least with shoplifting, you can try and watch/catch them. With clickfraud, we’re basically blind.

  • http://anewtattoo.com tom-g

    I dont thinkl google cares as long as they get paid for it. If they stopped all the fraud it would cut their profits. Do they refund payments for proven fraud click….I diont think so.

    • Guest

      Yes, they do refund money for proven fraud.

  • http://freemoneycommunity.blogspot.com andy

    this is a bad news for advertisers in the world. Because on of the biggest PPC company still can’t solve the click fraud in the system. I know that Adsense is the biggest PPC campaign in the world and many webmaster that use it. That’s why many people try many method to get or increase the earning with fast. I had also read the blackhat method to increase the income in adsense. But i don;t know if Google can handle it and proove the system so that advertiser feel safe from click fraud.

  • Paul

    I had been batting my brain trying to figure out why my clicks from Google never matched my weblogs and yet my PPC campaigns were always costing a lot of money, more than I would have thought based on the logs. I recently found a site that tracks all my PPC activity and allows me to block certain IP addresses of people who are clicking more than once on my ads. I figure this has saved me almost $700 per month since I started last September!

    The site is http://www.doogleonduty.com and I highly suggest anyone doing PPC should signup!

    • Guest

      Our company has been using http://www.doogleonduty.com for the past 9 months. Our AdWords campaign ROI started to decrease even though the CTRs continued to increase. We were convinced that click fraud was happening. When we pressed the issue with Google, our rep suggested http://www.doogleonduty.com. Withing 48 hours we blocked two click farms IP addresses that were costing us more than $200 per day. And we got Google to give us a credit based on the reports we generated by Doogle.

    • Guest


  • http://www.marketlance.net Guest

    I doubt Google is as concerned or as motivated to combat ppc click fraud as is the advertiser who is charged the cpc fees. Moreover, I have always felt Google has a given predisposition opposing Search Engine Optimization services or SEO because it takes a given % of the search giant’s revenues away. Supposing this distaste of SEO is related to potential loss of revenues…it certainly would explain why Google opted to drop SEO and other web related services from its local search listings doesn’t it? Obviously my conspiracy theory lacks supporting evidence given I am not aware of what other types of listings Google elected to drop but we can’t be naive and believe that all things are not somehow tied to income production. Google is definitely not a non-profit company so it is possible that the only one concerned about click fraud and ppc is the party paying the bill.

  • http://www.emma-actividades-musicais.pt Pedro Duarte


    I have an adwords campaign running for some months now.

    About this issue I have to say that it’s not very dificult for me to see what’s fraud and what is not, or what shoud be considered PPC fraud:

    This campaign is GEO filtred, I can access both analytics and awstats and a few more trafic related analysis soft. on this server.

    For me, PPC fraud is clear because when the website gets a click marked “paid trafic” and it generates a ZERO seconds traffic or 1 second traffic… that is fraud.

    Why is it fraud? Because PPC is an “opt in” advertisement and not an interruption one. And as it is “OPT IN” it is considered that only potential customers would visit the site.

    What potential costumer makes a ZERO seconds visit to a site wich add he as chosen to click?
    If a site has 2000 visits and the average visit time is 2m30s, is there a reason to pay for 100 clicks that has generated ZERO seconds, or 1 second, 2 seconds?

    That is not real PPC that is adressed for POTENTIAL costumers only! -That is the real OPT IN point of view for a marketeer. That is what we the advertisees what to pay for: REAL POTENTIAL CLIENTS, REAL QUALITY TRAFFIC.

    But one might ask “and what about a 5 seconds visit or a 10 seconds visit?”. In my opinion PPC control should be based on a % of the sites visiting time average, I believe that 20% should be a good number for a 2 minute average, but that percentage shoud be adapted to each average, decreassing with bigger time averages. Even for a average visiting time of 2 minutes, those 20% should be 24 seconds: More than enough time to have a positive or negative feedback from a POTENTIAL customer.

    Lets just say that a 0 second, or little more than that, should be considered: FRAUD or “Websurfer mistake” that an Advertisee should not pay for.

    • http://www.sciencelives.com ScienceLives

      Just to play devil’s advocate, a zero or low number of seconds visit to the site may also mean a poor match between the ad and the actual site … that is, if a lot of people click on the ad then see the landing page and immediately decide it’s not what they want to look at and immediately leave the site, it could also mean the ad didn’t accurately reflect what the site was about. So that isn’t necessarily an accurate way to determine that click fraud is occurring.

      • Pedro Duarte

        Nop… the add is very clear!
        What it means that there is low control on PPC quality! And… imediatly as you say is about 2 seconds! “Click and see” for what is human possible is a bit more than ZERO seconds don’t you agree?!

        One thing is to react as a human beeing another is to react like a script or a “machine”. Do you ever clicked on a advertisement and stay on that page for … Zero seconds?!

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  • Clark Griswold

    I knew I had significant click fraud based on site visit duration. However, it was painfully clear when I was hiring several new employees late last year, and I interviewed 11 candidates from my competitors. 7 of them claimed (without me even asking) that their role included clicking on competiors ads online to drive costs up. After the week of interviews, I pulled all Google, MSN/Bing and Yahoo advertising. My budget was $1,000.00 USD per day per site, so I am far from a big fish. It was somewhat of a blessing, as I found programs that worked on a CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) basis, where I only pay if the customer buys. I turned the tables… Now, my employees selected high-$ keywords ($75-100 per click) and click on my competitors’ ads as a daily routine, and they are instructed to enter the site and click through a few pages. We only manage to get through 50-100 per day, but I figure it costs my competitors $20k-50k per week total. I am just happy to return the favor…

    As long as people spend money to advertise on Google, there is no reason for Google to tighten up click fraud.

    • Guest

      I understand and respect your position. But Google wouldn’t be around if adverts couldn’t generate a positive ROI on their daily budget. Here’s the deal: The one thing that Google doesn’t do is provide the users IP address that is clicking on your ad. However, they allow you to block IP addresses. Here’s the solution:

      Our company has been using http://www.doogleonduty.com for the past 9 months. Our AdWords campaign ROI started to decrease even though the CTRs continued to increase. We were convinced that click fraud was happening. When we pressed the issue with Google, our rep suggested http://www.doogleonduty.com. Withing 48 hours we blocked two click farms IP addresses that were costing us more than $200 per day. They actually turned out to be ex-employees. And we got Google to give us a credit based on the reports we generated by Doogle.

      • Paula Israel

        To the person that posted the info about Doogleonduty.com. Thank you, thank you, thank you x1000. When I read this thread last week I passed it onto our ppc team lead. He set up a free Doogleonduty account on Jan 20. Our Jan 21 report found 3 seperate users with unique IP addresses had clicked on our ppc ad 300+ times within 24 hours! We then went into our adwords settings and blocked the IP addresses reported by Doogleonduty.com. This service is fast and simple and pays for itself 100x over per day. Where have they been?

  • http://www.dbdmart.com/diyshop Guest

    it certainly would explain why Google opted to drop SEO and other web related services from its local search listings doesn’t it? Obviously my conspiracy theory lacks supporting evidence given I am not aware of what other types of listings Google elected to drop but we can’t be naive and believe that all things are not somehow tied to income production. Google is definitely not a non-profit company so it is possible that the only one concerned about click fraud and ppc is the party paying the bill.

    • Ralph

      Let me clear this up once and for all! Go to google stocks and then go to Yahoo stocks. Big difference! If you have an adwords account call google and ask to speak to someone regarding adwords or adsense. You will get a Major brush off! Google does make an attempt to fight click fraud you call it! That’s all they have to do by law! If an ad pays or cost an advertiser 30.00 per click Google gets about $29 of that the advertiser gets about 1.00 (Crime) ?? Who owns or controls the internet? Exactly no one! You, me or anyone can search type click or do just about anything you want on the internet. If you think that you can control clicks on your ads or detect so called fraud. Well then your losing more than just your click budget. Now your spending valuable time trying to fight and research the clicks. Out of let’s say 10 billion people. Can you or anyone else control how long someone stays on your site or who clicks. It’s called the Worl Wide Web for a reason. Internet laws are still in the works and will be forever. Because what may be a law in the US is not a law in Italy or India.

      Adjust the cost you are willing to pay per click. In your account settings.

      Competition! You must understand competition! As long as you are advertising you will have competition. It will cost you alot of money to be #1. there is no way to do it on a budget of $80 a day or so.

      Go for the natural or organic listing.

      I have had experience with this. I owned a service business and advertised for as long as I could. Customers clicked my competition clicked and idiots clicked and if someone forgot my number they would find the ad again (Because I wanted to be #1 ) and clicked it to get my phone number or re-check a price. People looking for work will click your ads and call you. Advetisement agencies will click the ad to call you and try to sell something else.

      Are we getting it yet?

      I have read many articles and I understand logic. The internet is not based on logic. It was started as a communication device and expanded on information. Now it’s all about advertising. It’s all about $$$ You would think someone is looking out for your best interest when you advertise with them. No. Nobody is. you need to watch your own money.

      In the US we have created new laws and do so every week it seems to make money. For instance Arizona That state is dying foreclosures and un employment are the highest ever.

      So this lovely state builds a light rail for millions and puts up the most photo radar cameras ever every 5 miles on the freeway. Flashing and sucking money from people every 31 seconds. Lots of $$$ Nothing is given back. Now they tax the food and are laying off law enforcement.

      What I’m trying to say here is. You will not win! Nobody really cares. I’m sorry but they don’t. You can’t boycott google now can ya like we used to do back in the day if we did not like something. We would boycott or strike or something whinney!

      I did make it with my business on google but it ran me almost 50% of my proffit on some jobs due to clicks. I got the jobs though. I tried some of those google ad professionals that claim a better rate per click and protection against fals clicks. I tried 5 to be exact. Funny I didn’t save anything because in the long run I had to pay the middle man and so did google.

      Why did google get rid of some programs. There is no money in it! Only more liablity. Google dosen’t want that. Otherwise they would need a full time staff that just went to court hearings all day and child molestors or hackers that get into your bank account would be a thing of the past.

      Did you know that google will let adsense domain owners advertise thier click site on google adwords. Really they do! It’s not a violation in fact they offer it!

      So if you didn’t believe anything I said or just don’t agree with my theories. Think about this one for a second. They help promote what you are all complaining about.

      Don’t spend your time complaining or writing anymore . If you do, just remeber while you are. Your competiton just got a call.

      Good luck…..

      PS Sorry about the writing I didn’t proof it or anything..

  • http://www.qualisconsultoria.com.br Qualis Consultoria


  • Guest

    Google is crap the only thing they are interested in is taking your money per click. And if you do not pay they drop your PR. Every time my PR goes up they drop it down. Maybe it should have been called ripmeoff Google. I have not received not one customer from Google clicks the only one making money is Google

  • http://www.webhosting-picks.com George Schenk

    Google ranking algorithm based on links creates an oligarchy of websites. Google wants this. So that others who do not appear in the search results are forced to pay Google for PPC. When you search Google, Google does not want you to search for a tshirt and land on a related affiliate website and repeat the search on THAT site for details. Google wants you to see the shirt ad as a PPC ad and buy after a PPC click only. This is why they fight affiliate websites. Each website’s own search capability poses a threat to Google in getting a share out of that TShirt sale!

  • http://jetheights.com Jet Heights Jobs

    This is definitely a grave concern for advertisers. Hope google does something about these growing concerns, FAST. Thanks for sharing this great resource.

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