What you need to know about Click Fraud
If you’re using AdWords or AdSense you must have heard about an emerging practice in the underworld of computing called “click fraud”. But what exactly is click fraud and how is it accomplished? Well AdSense uses a payment mechanism that awards a certain amount of money to a publisher (someone who holds an AdSense banner on their page) every time a person clicks on the said banner. So click fraud is the attempt to have people clicking the ads just so that they can earn a greater income.
There are websites that are set up just for this purpose in order to take advantage of Google. These people are able to generate a lot of clicks by using various methods. One of the most complex methods is called “hitbots”. This is an automated program who emulates clicking the links in AdSense banners (there are some that actually click the banners as well). Google’s AdSense protection scheme is by no means perfect and nearly anyone can find the details of surmounting the protection mechanism, ironically just by doing a Google search.
Another, more rudimentary method is to hire a lot of people in a poor country to click the links on your site. This means these people will actually sit all day and just click links so you can earn a fortune. They come from very poor countries like India, and they’re prepared to do so for just $0.50 an hour. Of course, there’s a problem with this mechanism. Once Google receives a large number of clicks from a single address, the address and the site that had the AdSense banner will be banned, and the illicit behavior might even get the fraudster sued. To prevent this from happening, many people use a large number of proxy servers for the purpose of clicking. These are basically trojans, located on computers throughout the world (though mostly in the US). What’s even more daunting is that these clicks will appear to originate from an actual computer so such scams are really hard to detect.
This phenomenon is not something that we should ignore. There is a great deal of illegal activity in this domain. In fact there’s so much that if search engine companies don’t increase their security with such programs as AdSense, such criminal behaviour could become more become even more damaging. Google has a very strict policy to handle click fraud, and it has sued those employing such techniques in the past. However, efforts are still being put in to solve this rising danger.
Calculations have shown that more than 20% of the clicks that follow an AdSense link are just done in order to get money from the person paying for the ad. Some people believe the number of fraudulent clicks to be even twice as large. There is a lot of click fraud organizations such as groups of AdSense publishers clicking each other’s links (which is referred to as “clicking rings”, or spamming people so that they click such links.
Even though Google is still holding click fraud on a leash, this issue is certainly still raising concerns for the advertisers on AdWords, but despite this advertising with Google’s AdSense still remains more profitable for the advertiser, as opposed to traditional untargeted advertising schemes. Advertisers can always employ certain service to protect themselves from this. Many advertisers choose to avoid the content network all together for fear of click fraud.