- Internet & the Web
Google Adsense and Click Fraud
Nearly all AdWords or AdSense users have heard about the practice of called "click fraud". So let's explore what click fraud and how users accomplish it?
The basics of pay-per-click advertising are, you place code on your site, or in this case, article that allows advertisements to appear on your page. When someone clicks on an advertisement you receive a portion of what the advertiser paid for that click. Click fraud occurs when a site owner clicks on the advertisements appearing on their site in order to increase their revenue.
There are a certain number of people that go so far as to set up sites for the sole purpose of generating revenue through advertisements, particularly the Google's AdSense program. There are a number of methods used to accomplish this, from manually clicking to software programs that generate a huge amounts of hits.
Accomplishing Adsense Click Fraud
"Hitbots" are one of the most complicated methods to generate fradulent hits. "Hitbots" are automated programs that emulate the clicking of Adsense advertisements. Some of these programs are sophisticated enough to actually click the banners.
In odrder to protect advertiser from paying for falses clicks the Google's AdSense program has institutes protection measures but it is by no means perfect. Google's search engine itself will yeild methods of getting around these protection measures.
A rudimentary method to committ click fraud is to hire prople in a poorer country to click the links on your site. In essence you can hire someone in a very poor country for as little as $0.50 an hour to sit all day and click links on your various sites. In my opinion the is even more morally wrong than "hitbots". You earn a fortune while they struggle to feed their families.
While this mechanism will work for awhile, Google does catch on. Once they receive large numbers of ad clicks from one ip address,both the address and the site that had containg the AdSense advertisements will be banned. Google also claims that the site owner could be sued, and has done so in the past.
Of course whenever a fraud prevention method is put into place someone finds away around it. In this case, people use a a huge amount of proxy servers for the sole purpose of having advertisements clicked. In the most basic sense, the are merely trojans that are housed on computers across the world. When these trojan's are employed, clicks made on Adsense advertisements appear to originate from an legitamate computer which makes the fraudulent clickers harder to detect.
Unfortuneately for the honest people that use Adsense and the like to generate revenue, fraudualent clicking is quite common.
Google policy in regards to click fraud is very strict. However, there is much room for improvement in order to protect the advertisers and those publishers that are grenerating a legitamate income using Adsense and the like.
Some estimates have placed more than 20% of the clicks on AdSense links are nothing more than a way to basically steal money from the person paying for the ad. The clicks generate no real interest in what it is the Adsense link was advertising. There are those that believe that 20% is far to conservative and the actual number of fraudulent clicks could be up to twice as large as that.
Some other schemes involving click fraud, are groups of AdSense publishers that form "clicking rings". They click each others ads so they can all benefit from fraudulent clicking. Some publishers spam people to generate clicks.
WIth good reason, click fraud has raised concerns for the advertisers using AdWords. It has caused many advertisers to stay away from using the content network in their promtion plan. However, Google Adwords remains an effective form of advertising for many, especially large corporations that can afford to pay for a some frauduelnt clicks.