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Old 11-23-2004, 02:52 AM   #19

Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Posts: 9,506

It's 1999 all over again.

Click and impression fraud used to be the hottest issue in online advertising, with operators of 'get-paid-to-surf' programs and early CPC-based ad networks virtually crippled by simplistic devices and methods in the late 90s and into 2000-2001. The issue appeared to fall from the radar of mainstream online advertising for a couple of years after that as online ad spending began to dry up and advertisers moved to support CPM-based networks that placed an explicit emphasis on fraud prevention.

Many in the industry (including a huge number of Geek/Talkers) have long feared that this issue would inevitably arise to challenge AdSense extraordinarily. While it's easy to guard against the more simplistic software-based methods and proxy exploits, AdSense's supreme roster of advertisers and their high rates of pay serve as irresistable carrots dangling in front of hungry click fraudsters.

What worries me is not only a rise in the use of devices that have been developed explusively for use in exploiting AdSense, but the presence of requests on programmer BBs and freelance marketplaces for people to click on ads a given number of times a day in exchange for a share in the revenues. These worrying trends, along with exploitation by orchestrated criminal networks, are threats not only to AdWords advertisers but to the viability of AdSense itself.

We've already seen a number of publishers expelled from the network this month who claim to have done nothnig in breach of Google's terms. This could very well be the case, as it was when high rates of 'innocent' publishers were expelled from networks in the late 90s due to poor validation systems employed by networks at the time. If Google can't discriminate between genuine fraud and either anti-competitive clicking or normal human/bot activity, much more collateral damage may be suffered before fraud is diminished as a major issue for the network.

This is a worrying trend and while I wouldn't like to be in Google's shoes right now, I have my fingers crossed that other Geek/Talkers are spared from having their accounts deactivated due to hostile or genuinely irregular click activity.

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