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  • NorCalSEM 12:40 am on January 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , click fraud, click fraud settlement, content networks, miva, , ,   

    MIVA sets fire to 2nd Tier 

    miva_logo-thumbUnless you just haven’t been paying attention,  you already know that there’s a fire burning in the 2nd Tier.  These are the search firms that are outside the Big Three (Google, Yahoo, and MSN – who also syndicate search results) like Looksmart, Marchex, MIVA, Kontera, eZanga, etc.   Yes, I’m talking about the knee-deep web, land of bots, spiders and Indian sweat shops.  Second tier engines are more vertical, niche, and include things like local search sites.  If you’re a publisher looking to optimize your page views, then chances are you’ve probably tried the 2nd Tier by now.  Purchasing ad space on more than just Google makes good sense if:

    1. You need volume.
    2. You need low cost traffic.
    3. You have a CPM model in place.

    Good deals can be secured on these low cost, high volume traffic providers but only for the proper business model. I’ve used this traffic to monetize a CPM model, and it works great.  But at the end of the day, you are expecting that traffic to be legit, and so are your advertisers.   But at $.01, .02, or even .03 per click, you know you are taking the good with the bad and if you don’t, well…you’re just naive.  So for some it can be a necessary evil, with the power for good.  And to some, it can be a lifeline to riches – dirty deeds done dirt cheap.

    Here is an excepert from a former MIVA employee…

    “I used to work for Miva. The problem lies in the sub affiliates. if they have an affiliate that is supplying lets say 200 good clicks a day; they likely have a sub affiliate supplying another 150-200 bot- clicks. When you remove the sub affiliate from the net work.. it takes the primary affiliate that was supplying some decent clicks along with it.

    “Once you do get a campaign to convert; it has been optimized down to the point where there is simply put, no traffic, i.e. not scalable. aside from the management team being a joke; most of the players they are generating traffic with are disreputable and the type of guys you would like to kick the shit out of at the pub. I was there 7 months before resigning.”


    How do you think they fulfill large traffic volumes?  Well, if you are willing to pay $.03 and someone else can create the traffic for $.01, everyone gets paid.  To do this nefarious publishers and affiliates create bots that simulate real clicks, even performing actions once they land on your site so they appear to your analytics as human in nature.  As you can imagine if you are a spammer sending bots out and they are clicking on Google AdSense, which is a popular revenue stream for many, then money is exchanging hands at an alarming rate.  In other cases, there are reports of actual sweat shops where people are getting paid pennines to generate traffic by clicking on ads.  And also, your competitor can be clicking on your ads in order to spend your money.But some do their jobs very well, causing “spikey” activity, like abnormal high CTR on things like Google AdSense or banner ads.    On the surface everything looks copacetic, but an analysis of variance reveals the source.  A best practice is to channelize your traffic, so you can isolate sketchy activity.

    All of this is called click fraud, and we all know that your at risk of getting burned when you leave the Big Three.  And the content networks just can’t say no to money (who can these days?).  So they fill the requests, and then get busted.  Like MIVA – which ignites the whole tier.  MIVA’s $4MM click fraud settlement has sounded the alarms – We’ve got a full blown mess up here! (And this isn’t the first for them.) Now the engines will tell you that they are working to curb this type of activity, but the fact of the matter is they aren’t really.  Any smart player knows that these types of content networks are in the business to provide traffic, any which way.   If you spend significant money, you may not get the cold shoulder when you ask for a refund, but don’t count on it.  And since the people who profit the most from the fire are the internet lawyers, every engine that doesn’t start with the letter G better start forming a bucket brigade right now, because fires spread really fast.

    • Mike 5:23 pm on March 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

      Don’t pay for your electricity any longer…
      Instead, the power company will pay YOU!

      • norcalsem 4:10 pm on November 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for stopping by. New content coming soon. Come back now, y’hear?!

  • NorCalSEM 8:01 pm on August 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , adsense, big lebowski, click fraud, google adsense, incentivized clicks, incentivized traffic, lebowski, , run of category, ,   

    Every business has its outlaws. 

    As of late, I have had a small love affair with getting large volumes of traffic from the 2nd and 3rd tier search engines.  If you are getting the volume you need from the Big 3 (no, not the US, UK, and Russia), then typically these engines aren’t worth the time.  But for certain revenue models they can be very handy.  By purchasing traffic products, such as run-of-network, run-of-category, or run-of-vertical I was able to lift my AdSense revenue by close to 500% !  Well now I am a man-scorned.

    Google AdSense has deemed a large portion of some of the traffic I have purchased as incentivized trafficIncentivized traffic is when people are paid to visit a site.  Typically you are purchasing traffic from someone who is also purchasing traffic from someone else.  As with any business there are outlaws.  Through no fault of the search engine, they are passing on incenitivized traffic to you.

    Well, the Google Bot will find you and destroy you.   Contractually, Google must protect people who are putting ads onto their contextual network and make sure that the clicks they pay for don’t come from bogus sources with no interest in their ads.  According to Google, they aren’t taking MY money back and keeping it, they are returning it to the advertiser, so that includes Google’s cut as well.

    Fine.  Great.  Grand!

    Well, shouldn’t the person who sold me the traffic be responsible for this?  I mean if I went out and bought a bicycle from a bike shop and then found out the bike was stolen, well I’d point the police in the direction of the bike shop.  Same deal here.  Only this is not what is happening because the incentivized traffic ends up on my site and leaves on an AdSense ad from my site.   Also, AdSense has been monitoring this for some time.  Hey Google, how about a heads up somewhere along the way!  That’s like firing someone at 5pm on a Friday.  At least let em go at 10am so they can catch a matinee or something, geez!

    Well, the Dude abides and will swallow this tough pill, but this aggression will not stand, man!  (dont you just love Lebowski quotes?!)  Me too!  You can’t beat Google though, so let’s just have a drink and try to forget about it.

    White Russians all around!

    • Ken 2:01 pm on October 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I think I know what you mean. I was recently dropped from the eBay “EPN” network because I used some incentivized traffic. I don’t get it, the people went to eBay and bought allot of stuff but that does not matter…I bet most of the sellers don’t mind.

      • norcalsem 11:19 pm on November 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        It’s a sordid world when you are the middle man. That’s for sure.

  • NorCalSEM 10:49 pm on June 5, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: admarketplace, click fraud, eBay, eBay affiliate, ina steiner,   

    Traffic is as traffic does… 

    So, I met briefly with Adam, CEO over at adMarketplace.com today. I’m surprised to find out about them, but very interesting stuff and I wanted to share. So AMP started out early on, 2000 or so, using PPC to arbitrage on keywords for eBay sellers and affiliates. So well so, that they were picked up as the exclusive provider of PPC for eBay until 2003. (Steiner, 2006) Eventually they were dumped, but only to find themselves sitting atop a huge content network that they had created over the years. And like all good businessmen, they took that to market for the masses. They boast a titanic 300 million queries a day from their network! They actually provide a lions share of the traffic that you may currently be purchasing from the second-tier guys (Ask, Miva, Looksmart, Marchex, etc.).

    “Our ads are currently displayed on Ask, Looksmart and Miva, along with several other shopping-specific inventory partners. We also have deals in place with Google and MSN and will be integrated with them by end of Q4,” Epstein said. “Still, its misleading to tell users that they can simply go to a site, type in a keyword and see their ad, because we are constantly optimizing our partners to make sure we are delivering the highest performing inventory to our advertisers at all times.” (Stenier, 2006)

    Oh really?! So essentially I can buy direct now, cut out the middleman and his chunky UI, and get a dedicated account manager to optimize my campaigns and monitor click fraud for me?! For reals?! “Well, how’s your traffic?”, I say distrustingly, knowing that content networks can bring in some “shady” customers. “How about we put $1500 worth of $.05 traffic through your account on the house and go from there?”

    You had me at hello…I’m sending my keywords over right now.

    Stay tuned!

    Steiner, Ina (2006) “adMarketplace Replaces eBay Keyword Program, Sellers Adjust” Retrieved June 5, 2008 from http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y06/m11/i03/s02

    • ariel 7:14 am on June 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      hi man,
      nice blog, very informative.
      i wanted to ask u something about admarketplace before i launch something with them.



    • fm last 6:51 pm on November 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      how did your test with admarketplace go?

      • norcalsem 11:17 pm on November 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Sorry for the late response. The adMarketplace test was not fruitful. There is rarely a way to beat the quality and distribution offered by Google anywhere in the online ad world. One caveat is that these smaller players know they are not a “must buy” and will in most cases go above and beyond from a service perspective. One thing I’m not fan of is large up front monetary commitments to “test” this type of traffic. Good luck if you are still considering a test.

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