A Preventable Type of Click Fraud

Let’s take a few moments to discuss “Click Fraud”. The phrase is reminiscent of something you might have seen on the 70’s show Fight Back with David Horowitz. Click Fraud, in simplest terms is faking or encouraging unwarranted clicks. This is mostly a problem for advertisers who pay for clicks. Click Fraud costs these advertisers a varying, and mostly unknown, amount of ad money.

The methods of committing click fraud vary greatly. Mostly click fraud is committed by ad publishers. These publishers will sign up for a service such as “Google AdSense”. They will then either spoof clicks from or use deceitful methods to get unnatural clicks. These methods include directly asking people to click on ads that they would normally click on or employing bots and even adware to get clicks. You know it is Click Fraud when the click doesn’t happen naturally.

What can be done about Click Fraud? Google for one uses complex algorithms that look for unnatural clicks. For example, Google can tell if you clicked on an ad but then promptly used the back button. By visiting the target page only briefly, the ad was most likely clicked on by accident or by other means. There are many other algorithms to find the worth of a an ad click, this is just one of the simplest.

A Partial Solution:
If advertisers had a way of telling when a worthless Ad Click has occurred, then worthwhile clicks could more easily be determined and paid for. The suggestion is that Ad Publishing services like Google AdSense provide advertisers with an “I got here by mistake!” button. This code, most likely javascript, would reside on an advertiser’s destination page. It would not be mandatory and perhaps only available to high-use users. The Advertiser could place this tastefully into his/her site such as he/she sees fit. By clicking on it, it would signal to the advertiser and advertising service (ie Google AdSense) that the previous click to get to this page was invalid or unwarranted. These clicks could further be used to flag “Bad” ad publishers and help develop more adequate “Click Fraud” algorithms. While this doesn’t apply to click fraud caused by bots and/or adware, it gives a tool that both the advertiser and the advertising service can use. In the least such a button would build “Good Will” between the advertisers (ie. AdWords Users) and the ad services (ie. AdSense Service).

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