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Newsweek On Click Fraud, Search Engine Response

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the clickie-clickie dept.

The Internet 200

prostoalex writes "Newsweek magazine says click fraud is the bane of the search advertising industry. Google and Yahoo! are apparently working on the standardized definition of a "good-faith" click in order to weed out the fraudulent ones. Meanwhile, merchants like Assaf Nehoray are taking their money elsewhere, getting abundant clicks, but no real revenue on Internet advertising campaigns. Newsweek also mentions Google suing a Texas company for placing the AdSense code and then clicking on it in order to run up the revenue. John Battelle says that his friends in the search industry tell him the click fraud is growing and that changes are not too far away."

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200 comments

You're about six months behind (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391334)

And from just last month (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391344)

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391338)

Drunk sex!1!11one

Puff (3, Interesting)

FiReaNGeL (312636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391342)

Everyone is affected, big or small "publisher".

But I assure you that it hurts when your 100$ Adword budget goes in a puff of probably fraudulents clicks, with nothing you can do about it. The guys at SEO Chat forum [seochat.com] are not very happy about this, I assure you.

It's discouraging me of running small-scale Adwords campaigns, honestly.

Re:Puff (5, Interesting)

iconnor (131903) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391459)

Is there any service that advertising can pool their useless clicks?

To an advertiser, a useless click is a click that hits the adwords landing page and little (or nothing else) and does not mean a sale. If these bogus clicks could then be processed at a 3rd party auditing house, then fraud could be detected and each member could then complain to google about bogus clicks.

I am sure someone must have thought of this already - I just can't find it listed on google :(

Re:Puff (3, Insightful)

Eric Giguere (42863) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391681)

But then who polices the advertisers? Is Google supposed to trust you to tell them when a visitor who reaches your landing page converts into a sale? What if you're not selling anything, at least not directly? I can see all kinds of problems at that end, too.

Really, you're paying Google for traffic. Qualified traffic, yes, but traffic just the same. How you convert that traffic into sales is not Google's worry.

Eric
Listen, people: JavaScript is not Java [ericgiguere.com]

3rd world countries (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391345)

In third world countries companies can literally have hundreds of people in a sweatshop clicking on ads. It's amazing.

Re:3rd world countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391416)

That's awsome, in a lot of ways. If people were able to put that kind of labor to good use. Where I work, we have all these cool fucking underground tunnels running everywhere. It's a university, so running utilities is a breeze. Well, back in the day, that's how things got done because labor was so cheap. Now, we just get a ditch witch and knife it into a little bitty trench.

It'd be nice to have labor like that to do cool things.

Re:3rd world countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391494)

minion?

Re:3rd world countries (1)

workman161 (814490) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391427)

Is that how the industry has outsourced again?

Re:3rd world countries (2, Insightful)

enosys (705759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391520)

Why would anyone do such a thing? They could easily simulate it using software. That would be cheaper for many reasons. They don't have to hire all those people. They can do it all using one or a few computers instead of many. They need a lot less space and they have smaller energy bills.

Re:3rd world countries (2, Informative)

shawb (16347) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391688)

I'm not quite sure about the sweatshop type model, but I have read about a few places that have a lot of people just clicking on ads for a few hours a day. I guess it's similar to the "hit the monkey and win" type ad click racket, except people actually get paid a small amount for a lot more clicks.

Or it could even be something like free internet access if you just click on banners for X amount of time per day. I think the reason that they don't simulate it with software is that actual people clicking on the banners makes it a lot harder to track than some script.

This looks similar in some ways to pyramid scams. Someone loses out, except this time it might be the actual advertiser which _GETS_ the fraudulant clicks in the first place. I'm sure that the advertisers would eventually catch on and yank this out from under people's noses. Maybe even sue those who run the clickfraud for... well... fraud.

Re:3rd world countries (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392348)

That is the reason all those "get payed to click" schemes failed. I had written scripts to move and click my mouse mouse for a couple of those companies and was getting about $20 per month. The way I saw it I was just getting payed for the little script I wrote. The better and more intelligent the scipt was, the more I should be rewarded. I gave up when they started to pop up windows with specific instructions that had to be read and executed.

Re:3rd world countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391525)

Recently, our company had to digitize thousands and thousands of pages of legacy docs so that they could be quickly searched for key phrases. It turned out to be cheaper to have foreigners in India re-type them in by hand than to have them scanned and OCR'd.

Never saw the real motive in this (0)

MrRTFM (740877) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391347)

Sure, they can cost the competitors money, but doesn't that increase your own costs (competitors do it back to you).

All that ends up happening is that the advertisers get rich

Darn! (3, Funny)

Sebby (238625) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391348)

I thought they were talking about Amazon's one-click!

Re:Darn! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391503)

Thanks for sharing!

thought this was dead (1)

SycoCowz (823572) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391350)

Those pay-per-click things are still around? I thought they died long ago with AllAdvantage and its copycats.

Re:thought this was dead (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392237)

Have you even used Google in the last two years? Notice the stuff on the right...

how to fix click fraud (1)

Prophetic_Truth (822032) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391357)

just a guess, but maybe they could use the same techniques that identify DDoS attacks to also finger click fraud?

Cycle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391364)

Phantom clicks > No Sales > Advertisers Decrease > Price Per Click Drops > Phantom Clicks Stops...

Re:Cycle. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11392287)

Nope, the magic pixie dust of market forces can't save us this time.

What happens is that price per click drops, number of fradulent clicks increases to make up for it, repeat until such a high percentage of clicks are fradulent that no advertiser will use the service anymore.

In the long view the problem is self-correcting because the parasites will kill their host, but it is not a good solution.

Click fraud? (4, Interesting)

mistersooreams (811324) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391375)

What exactly is this click fraud thing? I can't really see how it can be exactly defined. Maybe the owners of the website occasionally want to click on their own adverts because (*shock*) the product is actually relevant to their site, and thus to them. In fact, relevance is supposed to be the whole idea of Google's TextAds, isn't it?

Obviously someone genuinely wanting to click their own ads ten thousand times is rather unlikely, but where do you draw the line? Is this written in a contract anywhere? What about getting other people to click the ads for you?

This seems to be a very fuzzy legal matter. I'm as pro-Google as the next Slashdotter but I can't see how they have a water-tight case here. That said, I'm not an expert, so perhaps someone can correct me.

Re:Click fraud? (1)

404notfound (467950) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391449)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Click_fraud

Re:Click fraud? (4, Informative)

tuxter (809927) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391604)

maybe this would be a bit easier for everyone hey....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Click_fraud [wikipedia.org]
It's not that difficult to format a URL is it?

Re:Click fraud? (1)

Chatmag (646500) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391545)

I know that Google says if you want to check an advertiser out that is showing on your site, or are interested in what that advertiser offers, hover your mouse over the link, then type it into a location bar, don't click the link directly. One interesting side note. The link does not show in Firefox, just IE.

It's useful to weed out ads that are direct competitors, or ads you would deem inappropriate for your site. Google then has the provision to "lock out" those ads by going into your account and add those sites into your Url filter.

Re:Click fraud? (1)

FiReaNGeL (312636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391559)

Its against your "contract" with Google (that you accept when signing up with Adsense) to click on your ads. Even once. Even to "check" if its working. Thats were the line is.

"Begging" for clicks, directly or indirectly, is agaisnt the terms of agreement, too. "I have trouble paying my hosting bills, so I added ads to the left, please support us", that kind of thing.

Don't see the point? Ads can be very profitable. Some keywords go for $0.03, sure. Some go for $7.00, too.

1- Set up website targeting profitable keyword

2- Set up a ring of "friends" clicking on the ads time to time

3- Profit!

Re:Click fraud? (1)

Chatmag (646500) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391587)

Google AdSense Policies [google.com]

Re:Click fraud? (2, Informative)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391951)

You are a webmaster and you want to see what the ads link to for relevance. Mouse over and check the status bar for the link and then simply type it into your browser window.

You've adhered to google's policies AND discovered what the result of that click is. If you are a webmaster and you CANNOT figure this out you deserve to lose any money Google TextAds would have earned you. The policy is simple. Click on the ad yourself and forfeit the right to your earnings.

Dupe (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391376)

Oh really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391380)

FTA:
Advertisers once bid pennies to place their links prominently alongside searches for words like "refinance." With traffic to the search sites skyrocketing, last week's bid for that word was $12 a click.

Oh really? I just did a Google search [google.com] for "refinance", and clicked on each of the links. Didn't look like $12 to me! Anyone else care to check?

Re:Oh really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391835)

I bilieve they meant $12 billed to the business buying the ad space on google per click. Not you.
I want to run that advertisng model.
"Click HERE and pay!!!"

Uh duh... (5, Insightful)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391381)


Who ever thought Google AdWords were any more effective than a pop up ad? The reason so many porn sites use pop ups is that often times they get paid on a "per view" or "per click" basis. Hmmm...if every user has to click the fake 'X' in the top corner, thus sending them to the advertiser, then the referring porn site makes money on a click through.

Same idea with AdWords. Why would anyone think click through ads are any better? Everyone remember the days when they had the little clients that would monitor when you were online and give you money for every hour you surfed? Ha, how long did it take you to set up a macro to run the mouse while you slept? :-)

The only advertising that makes you money, is advertising that sells your product. Tricking people into following a link or viewing a page they didn't want to doesn't do anyone any good in the long run. Pay per click can only last so long.

Re:Uh duh... (2, Interesting)

RobertTaylor (444958) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391404)

HA!

"The only advertising that makes you money, is advertising that sells your product. Tricking people into following a link or viewing a page they didn't want to doesn't do anyone any good in the long run."

And in this posters sig:

"Get a FREE MiniMac Here! [freeminimacs.com] "

Scams obviously work as good tricks :)

Re:Uh duh... (1)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391579)


I am in no way hiding where this link leads...no tinyurl crap. Stright up, if you want to click it, then click it. If not, then don't it's as simple as that.

Re:Uh duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391837)

Straight up now tell me
Do you really want to love me forever?
oh oh oh
Or am I caught in a hit and run?
Straight up now tell me
Is it gonna be you and me together?
oh oh oh
Are you just having fun?

Re:Uh duh... (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392102)

Atari?? Is that you??

You're the only one who breaks into song around here. At least own up to it.

Re:Uh duh... (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391434)

This is hilarious, coming from a guy whose sig is a ponzi scheme link. Asshat.

comment post (1)

CmdrTostado (653672) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391439)

from the site We encourage users to post their referral link online, but will not tolerate users who "mass-post" on the internet.

Re:comment post was supposed to be sig post (1)

CmdrTostado (653672) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391524)

it's late.

Re:Uh duh... (4, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391490)

Disagree. Pay per click isn't the problem. Bad (misleading) ads are the problem; there's no reason to presume that pay per click will die because of these. The advertisers will die, instead. And where's the downside of that?

There are perfectly reasonable ways to use Google ads, for instance. Describe your product honestly, market your product honestly on the target page the ad leads to, and provide a good and well supported product.

If you can't be bothered to do that, then you deserve to have your ad budget eat you for dinner, IMHO.

If you do follow those basic guidelines, then the ads will bring potential customers by your pages, and some percentage of them will actually purchase your product(s) and/or service(s).

There's no magic to this -- unless you're a fraud right out of the gate anyway.

That's not to say that you can't work the system in such a way as to make it legitimately benefit you. For instance:

Some of my competitors do such a poor job, I decided to put Google ads right on our sales pages so our customers could easily find our competitors. The results they get are so yucky that I consider them to be marketing for us, in a reverse sort of way. There's nothing on our pages that say "go look at how crappy our competitors are, click the ads and then come back" or anything like that... the ads just sit there, advertising software similar to ours... and our sales picked up about 20% over four weeks once we put the ads on. Apparently, our customers are savvy enough to know where they've been -- and how to come back -- when they wander off to look at these other folks. And the funny thing is that we get paid for all this. Now, if our competitors are silly enough to keep advertising a shoddy product, why, I'm simply delighed to host their ads. :)

Re:Uh duh... (1)

DevolvingSpud (774770) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391736)

> There are perfectly reasonable ways to use Google ads, for instance. Describe your product honestly, market your product honestly on the target page the ad leads to, and provide a good and well supported product.
> If you can't be bothered to do that, then you deserve to have your ad budget eat you for dinner, IMHO.


The problem isn't misleading ads - it's the fact that your competitors could burn up your ad budget very quickly by simply writing a script that "clicks" your ad link over and over again. If you set your ad budget low, your ad falls off and then theirs gets seen. If you set your budget high, then they just end up costing you money.

shut your (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391836)

shut your cake hole and RTFA.
mod parent down.

Re:Uh duh... (1)

Refrozen (833543) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392324)

Yep. And when you read the article, you will understand this is about click fraud, and not crappy ads.

Re:Uh duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391506)

You are clueless. If you had any experience with Adsense/Adwords, you would know that many publishers and advertisers have had great success with the programs. Comparing Google's program to popup ads is insane. As a Firefox user, I block popups and other ads (using a combination of default features and Adblock), but I leave the Adsense ads. They are usually very relevant to whatever site I'm viewing and aren't annoying like popups or flashing banner ads. I know many people who feel the same way.

Google Adwords work because they're non-intrusive (1)

Rares Marian (83629) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391859)

I would much rather click on a nice google ad than a hyperactive bouncing you may hve won a pc with a virus that could be running twice as fast if you install cpurocket with antispyware suite of free ipods.

Re:Uh duh... (1)

ssundberg (539828) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392111)

Who ever thought Google AdWords were any more effective than a pop up ad?
Actually, it is more effective. At a site where I run both banner ads and Google AdSense, the click-thru ratio for Google most days is around 2%; the average click-thru ratio for the banner ads is around 0.2%. The income I make from running AdSense is equal to the income I receive from running both leaderboard, 300x250 box, AND skyscrapers banners on the web site.

Zombies being used as proxies? (4, Insightful)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391397)

I wonder how much of getting away with this is done by using open proxies laid down on zombies by $WORM_OF_THE_MONTH.

Obviously the SEs know to watch for 100+ adwords clicks in 15 minutes from the same IP (though maybe this is harder due to decentralization of the data centers and another reason for them to get a dark fiber network - see the article from earlier today) but if the clicks appear to be coming from broadband users across the US, I could see worms playing a big part in this, relatively undetectably.

comment post (1)

CmdrTostado (653672) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391472)

from the site Predominately promotional messages must not be posted to bulletin boards, discussion forums, guestbooks, Usenet newsgroups, or any other .....

Re:comment post was supposed to be sig post (1)

CmdrTostado (653672) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391548)

it's late (this comment modified to make it original).

Re:Zombies being used as proxies? (1)

Anonymous Luddite (808273) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391508)

>> I wonder how much of getting away with this is done by using open proxies laid down on zombies by $WORM_OF_THE_MONTH.

I was just reading a link on webmasters world [webmasterworld.com] about this kind of fraud. The best guesses there seemed to agree the fraudulent click campaigns were launched through bot-nets.

This is old hat in the adult industry: (3, Insightful)

dpplgngr (63186) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391400)

For any affiliate program, as that community operates like the mos eisley cantina. In fact, it's expected, and has been dealt with over and over. Google should talk to the old guard on this one.

I'm sorry to admit that gfy [gofuckyourself.com] is the authoritative source on this problem; no joke!

Re:This is old hat in the adult industry: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11392167)

The adult industry never really dealt with the problem, they just moved away from ppc to percentage based and flat commission per signup affiliate programs.

Overture "click protection" (3, Insightful)

Camel Pilot (78781) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391405)

A while back I had a frustrating exchange with Overture (aka Yahoo) on "Click Protection" on their PPC service. In the meantime I have back engineered their highly touted filter and it is a joke. I could write click bot with a few lines of Perl and a list of proxy servers. My experience has been that they will not pay attention to you until you have goon thru the trouble of documenting the event. Here is a summary of my experience.

Overture claims to provide "Click Protection" for their pay-per-click advertising service. In reality they fail to prevent the most basic and easiest to detect non-authentic clicks - that is competitors clicking on competitors. They do not even filter out a customer clicking on their own links from within the Overture manager. Nor do they provide a method for an advertiser to test their own ad rendered URL's - a necessary function as a means to test the validity of an entered URL.

Since filtering out such clicks would be simple and straight forward using established cookies or session id's - I can only speculate the reasons for not patching this obvious flaw and question the "sophistication of Overtures "Click Protection".

For a complete write up see Overture Click Protection Paper [perlworks.com]

Who would have thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391410)

...that in the future we would be counting the number of times the microswitch in a mouse was clicked, and exchanging money based on it.

click-fraud? huh? (1)

Karma Sucks (127136) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391413)

would it hurt the submitter to at least explain what the hell click-fraud is?

if i use a keyboard to simulate a mouse-click, is that considered click-fraud?

if so, this could really put open source projects like GNOME Accessibility in a dicey situation! ;)

Re:click-fraud? huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391984)

RTFA dumbass

Re:click-fraud? huh? (1)

LardBrattish (703549) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392164)

Not that I had ANYTHING to do with this except hear about it third hand but my understanding of click fraud is a Perl (or similar) script that spoofs IP addresses, visits web pages and "clicks" on ad banners with the intention of wasting a competitors advertising budget with useless clicks so that you can hoover up the keywords at a reduced price. e.g. The price of, say, Viagra in google adwords is dependent on time of day & a bidding system if I understand correctly so you've bid 10c/click while your competitor has bid 50c/click so they're getting all of the "action" but he's put a $100 cap on spending. so you invoke the script I just mentioned to blow away his $100 @ 50c/click then your 10c/click is the top bidder... Google gets paid but obviously they're unhappy because their customer's unhappy.

It hurts publishers too (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391414)

I am a Adsense publisher, which means I show thier ads on my site. I earn quite good money (more than two thousand US dollars a month) for doing next to nothing. What concerns me is that they say "oh poor advertisers" when publishers get just as hurt.

1) You can loose, a lot, of revenue because of advertisers switching off.
2) You can void all your earnings if Google detects fradulant clicks (say a compeditor clicks the hell out of your ads).

It does suck for publishers and advertisers, but as it is one of Google's (and others) major revenue sources then I would have thought they would take even more measures to make sure this kind of fraud didn't happen. Because at the end of the day they do rely on both publishers and advertisters. And if it turns to crap Google (etc) will no longer be the middle man.

Re:It hurts publishers too (2, Interesting)

paul.schulz (75696) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391596)

The relevance of the advertising also needs to be improved, making them more useful then they currently are. If they 'added more value' to the site for the publisher, then maybe they would be used more, and abused less.

Suggestion:

I am an Adsense publisher for a local community based website.

I would like visitors to see advertising on my site with is relevent to my intended target audience. This could be done by allowing the publisher to add additional keyworks to the Adsence search. (eg. locality name)

Re:It hurts publishers too (1)

Eric Giguere (42863) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391609)

Given that the majority of Google's revenues come from advertising, I think it's safe to say that they're devoting resources (and brainpower) to fixing this problem. The nice thing about AdSense is that it lets small website owners like myself get rewarded for putting up free content with no real hassle on anyone's part. It complements the open source model in my mind.

Most AdSense sites don't earn a lot of money, but it can easily pay your hosting costs if you get enough traffic. Sometimes you hit a lucky jackpot and make more. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of Google's advertising revenues to see how many clicks come through AdSense versus through sponsored links on the search results pages, but I doubt we'll ever see that kind of detail.

Eric
Who is writing a book about AdSense [amazon.com]

Re:It hurts publishers too (1)

mabu (178417) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391729)

Does participating in adsense improve your web site's ranking in Google's search engine?

English may be a second language to you... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11392198)

but it's my native tongue.

Before a vowel sound, "a" becomes "an", so it's "I am an Adsense publisher".

Learn the difference between "loose" and "lose", quickly.

And look up the proper spelling of "fraudulent". I did.

Contrary to Samuel Clemens' assertion, there is a right way to spell every word, although sometimes more than one. Other spellings are not right.

What about folks who play by the rules? (2, Interesting)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391424)

While most of the slashdotters laughed [slashdot.org] at my christmas lights/webcam hoax [komar.org] , there were a handful (probably fueled by the insinuations in the press reporting) that claimed I cleaned up on my Google Adsense Ads. Nothing could be further from the truth (I'm not quiting my day job!) which I document in my media updates [komar.org] and I was operated totally by the rules of the program as documented in my two cents on Google Adsense. [komar.org]

So while YES, there is a lot of fraud in this area, be careful about saying everyone running Google Adsense is "bad"

Re:What about folks who play by the rules? (1)

bigberk (547360) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391543)

interesting stuff... I didn't know the lights thing was a hoax. As for AdSense, I am happy with its performance (and I have used banner type ads over the years). It makes me a bit of money, it's honest, and the ads are not intrusive so I really have zero complaints.

Re:What about folks who play by the rules? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391743)

If you made money off the hoax or not, you're still an asshole. :)

Business Model (1)

karniv0re (746499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391425)

Newsweek also mentions Google suing a Texas company for placing the AdSense code and then clicking on it in order to run up the revenue.

1. Place AdSense code
2. Click
3. ???
4. Profit!
5. Goto step 2.

Google ranking (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391468)

May not be related to the click advertising, but just so those of you running web servers are aware, one thing I've discovered is that Google puts a heavy penalty on sites that use no-archive tags.

I've been using it on pages for several sites because the content changes often, googlebot doesn't visit often, and we don't want the googlecache showing out-dated info. Also, it appears that googlecache now includes images, so it is entirely possible for individuals to visit a site, and no hits be registered in the web logs at all (I'm aware of excluding googlebot from image directories, I'm talking about something else). And there are other downsides, legitimate downsides, to allowing google to cache a site. Web site owners should have control over their own sites, without being excluded from the number one search engine on the internet, should they not?

I'm guessing that the no-index tag is used by sites that obfuscate and find ways around google's pageranking by cheating/spamming/cloaking or whatever other methods they use, so that's why google is penalizing sites with these tags. Or possibly, google can't cache the site, so they penalize it because otherwise it would affect google's claimed or actual search speed? If this is the reason, then they are contradicting their own mantra, of do no evil. Whatever the reason, be aware that no-index tags will penalize your site into oblivion. The method they appear to be using as the penalty is to remove any links from other sites to your site, so that your site doesn't receive any benefit from the highly touted "word-of-mouth" or whatever they call it, how your page/site ranks on other sites. I've been able to figure this out from a site where I missed adding the no-index tags to a couple of pages, and they rank better than other pages that should rank even higher. And the site doesn't show up at all when doing a link search, when in fact it is linked to from other highly ranked and highly trafficked sites. Some pages don't rank at all, a few rank in the low 200's, some rank even lower (higher number). Meanwhile on other search engines (Yahoo, askJeeves, MSN, Teoma, many others) the site comes in near the top 10-20 in most of the key word and phrase searches for the relevant categories to which the site would be a perfect fit for the search terms. And it looks like Google doesn't credit anything to how often or frequently someone clicks on your site when it does show up in results, as compared to other sites. Which is strange. Wouldn't you rank a site higher if everyone clicks on it first or click on it at all regardless of where on the page of results you show up?

I've thought about purchasing some google adwords so that they remove whatever penalty they are imposing when they review the site, but for them to review the site, it costs $299 last time I checked for the google adwords first time purchase, and it is unknown if they would actually remove the penalty. And the click fraud is the main reason for not purchasing the adwords (the other is the high cost to start with review, before you know if it is worth it or not).

Re:Google ranking (1)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391653)

I don't know where you got $299 to set up adwords from. That must have been a long time ago. When I set up adwords 3 months ago, it cost $5. Plus, of course, the cost of the ads.

Re:Google ranking (1)

grazzy (56382) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391921)

Man, what are you ranting about? Google doesnt "review" sites. And its not 299 to use google adwords....

Yes, actually they will (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11392151)

If you have never purchased advertising with google before, you can purchase a $299 campaign, and at the same time, someone from google will look over your site. Its a service to first time ad buyers. Others have speculated (unrelated to looking over the site as part of the $299 package) that once you start buying advertising on google, your ranking improves. They appear to be basing this on experience with actually purchasing ads, as speculated in webmaster forums and elsewhere. So some of the speculation is based on experience.

Is the fee still $299? Don't know, but I checked it a few months ago at most. Go through the menus that explain advertising for first time buyers, and you'll see the program I'm talking about.

You can get started with adwords for $5 as the other poster stated. But if you start with $5, you aren't a new user anymore, and therefore don't fit within the guidelines printed on google's site for someone there to look over your site. Don't know if they farm it out or not, but that's what they state. So you put up $299 up front, and get them to look at the site, or you start with $5, and still end up with a possible penalty for no-archive tags that don't get resolved, no links from other sites that aren't counted for ranking that may be part of the penalty for no-index tags, and so on.

Can you get started with $5? Maybe so. Probably. But according to google's own site, you need to meet the minimum threshold of $299 (iirc), and be a first-time purchaser for them to look at the site.

Torrents! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391471)

HERE! [schnits.org] is a bit torrent of all the torrents from the former Suprnova

Click fraud example (0, Troll)

mrkitty (584915) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391547)

Step 1 setup a website Step 2 click on the link Example: Go to www.cgisecurity.com and click on the banners! Step 3 gain karma on slashdot :p

Re:Click fraud example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391880)

Done.

Hilarity ensues! (4, Insightful)

davew2040 (300953) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391552)

To me, it's absolutely hilarious that much time and money is being spent to figure out how to improve a business model that's fundamentally idiotic.

Re:Hilarity ensues! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391744)

I agree - albiet in the cowardly fashion :P

Re:Hilarity ensues! (1)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391858)

I've made thousands of dollars off of that particular business model. Who's the idiot?

Re:Hilarity ensues! (1)

Jesus IS the Devil (317662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392273)

Meanwhile, businesses are making money while you're still out of a job. Who's the idiot?

Web abhors ads (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391554)

Every ad technique I have seen in nine years of working on a ad-supported major web site has been made obsolete by one of the following:

1. Deemed abhorrent by users (giant banner ads, popups)

2. Blocked (all banners)

Frauded (any bid/click model).

There isn't anything these sites can really do about click fraud, this isn't a case of software creating clicks but real humans in a sweatshop. Its impossible to determine if an ad is being delivered to a viable user. Impossible.

For some firms, they will just live with it, but many others will become seriously disillusioned. Ultimately the major sites will have to go to a monthly fee if they want to survive.

Why must clicks generate immidaite sales? (5, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391660)

I simply never understood why the metric for web ads are so different from the metric for all other media ads. I mean in newspapers and television and magazines, the advertisers pays for the potential to reach the viewing or subscriber base. It is possible to guess how good these campaigns are doing, but the continuation of the campaign is often based on demographics, not how many people come in and say, hey, I saw your ad on Survivor and wanted to pick up your product. Advertisers want to create a personal connection to the consumer, and this is done by sponsoring content the target consumer desires.

Now it could be said that web advertising is more like direct mail. A firm pays an ad agency to create copy, the post office to send stuff out, and hopes for enough responses to the campaign to generate the profit. If the campaign fails, maybe the ad agency receives some flack. But the post office is not going to refund money because several hundred of the recipients happened to work for a competitor, or because a third of the envelopes were discarded unopened.

So where did this concept of one click one sale, or one click one payment. What happened to the concept of sponsoring good content in the hopes of generating a connection to potential customers. By all accounts TV and print ads are increasingly worthless. Can web ads be any worse? Could the problem be that the ad agencies or advertisers are not taking time to understand the medium? Are all web advertisers so fly by night that they need a sale today because tomorrow they will have run off to tahiti with the receipts?

Re:Why must clicks generate immidaite sales? (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391929)

I agree... I always found it amusing that web addresses are all over the place on billboards, magazines and newspapers, but I have to click on a web advertisement to figure out what company is peddling what.

When you see an "Eat at Joe's" sign next to a train station that you walk through every day, you're more likely to eat there. Likewise, there needs to be a category of web advertisement that builds a brand based on a logo or catchy graphic.

Hell... drug companies advertise and sell drugs without even telling you what the drug does!

Re:Why must clicks generate immidaite sales? (1)

michaelhood (667393) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391930)

These other media advertisements are based on CPM or "Impressions". You know upfront how much this campaign is going to cost. This is more like paying to have packages (AOL CDs? Apartment magazines?) made, and leaving them out to be distributed in a public venue. Now one of your competitors wanders along, and takes 50, with no intention to make use of the content. Whether this is theft or not is for a different discussion, but I hope this analogy brings it closer to Apples to Apples at least.

Addition (1)

michaelhood (667393) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391943)

I meant to also include that packages that were not picked up by customers could be reclaimed by the advertiser for use in another campaign, etc. These advertisers put out enough packages so the shelves won't be empty, although they don't expect 100% of the packages to be taken.

Stick it to the mortgage industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391690)

Clicking on the word "Mortgage" when doing a Google search costs the advertiser close to $20 (especially for the top positions). Next time you want to spend a bunch of money, just do that. It feels quite powerful.

pay-per-click model generally obsolete (1)

mabu (178417) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391718)

I've never liked the pay-per-click model.

It only really has value to a few select portals that have market share. Everybody else gets screwed. The pay-per-click model also compensates for advertisers' lack of innovation or foresight. If their ad message sucks, they don't pay, yet they consume prime real estate that could be better served by a more thoughtful advertiser unwilling to merely randomy throw money around in impractical bid amounts. So with this model, web sites lose revenue because of an advertiser's incompetence.

It will be a better day when all pay-per-click advertising disappears. It doesn't serve anyone well.

Re:pay-per-click model generally obsolete (1)

Hentai (165906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391756)

It's another prisoner's dilemna, though - it doesn't serve anyone well, but at the same time it causes any OTHER behavior to serve people even LESS well.

Who clicks ads on purpose? (1)

Sophrosyne (630428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391747)

It seems almost shocking to me that people are clicking on these ads, and some are actually buying the products or services.
I guess I am just being naive and ignoring impulse shopping, but I can't imagine someone seeing an ad and actually purchasing a product without putting any real thought into it.
I am so thankful for things like Adblock, it helps bring back some sanity to the web.

WRONG, WRONG WRONG! (4, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11391931)

>click fraud is the bane of the search advertising industry

Click fraud is the bane of the USELESS CLICK-THRU ADVERTISING industry. Use targetted banners, of both online and offline products. Get smarter, dammit.

If I see a coke ad on a hot sunny day, i'm more eager to buy it than to click a stupid "punch the monkey" ad.

How about this. In say, long scientific article, who the heck will pay attention to a banner on the top of the page, rather than in the middle?

Common sense, boys. You wanted instant revenue. There's no such thing.

Re:WRONG, WRONG WRONG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11392000)

Do you have any experience in advertising? I do... PPC works, a lot better then banner ads. PPC ads ARE targetted... I would go on but it's useless to educate someone who already thinks they know everything.

Re:WRONG, WRONG WRONG! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11392196)

When anyone tries to do targetted banners the privacy advocates have a heart attack. Just look at Doubleclick.

Back in the day... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11391977)

Anyone remember those "paid to surf/look at ads" schemes that used to be all the rage... until a few people wrote some programs to keep the mouse active and the pennies flowing.... good times.

Re:Back in the day... (1)

kyoko21 (198413) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392038)

Would you be referring to AllAdvantage.com? :-) I was one of those few individuals who got a couple hundred dollars from that. Yay! Too bad the checks stop coming in :-(

New Search engine Snap.com Solves this problem (2, Interesting)

adamontherun (660770) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392011)

Bill Gross's new startup Snap.com [snap.com] has a great new advertising model that solves the click fraud program.

They offer traditonal online advertising options such as charging for the number of times a listing is displayed, and a pay-per-click model (That Gross originally pioneered with Overture).

Snap's big contribution to online advertising is "Pay-Per-Action". They track a user's click-stream from their search engine, to the site, and track a user's movements there. So a bookseller can agree to pay 2% of sales for leads from Snap. Or Friendster could agree to pay $.25 per new subscriber.

This has two big advantages over PPC. It 100% eliminates click fraud. It also eliminates risk to the merchant, there's no more wondering what percentage of PPC visitors will convert to sales.

More on Snap.com at my blog IAmAdamSmith [typepad.com]

Our team at online travel startup TripInvite.com [tripinvite.com] plan to start a "Pay per Action" campaign after we launch later this month. Other travel sites signed with Snap are paying about 2 to 3% right now.

Re:New Search engine Snap.com Solves this problem (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392116)

They track a user's click-stream from their search engine, to the site, and track a user's movements there

Until their cookies are blocked, that is.

I think this is why CPM and Affiliate rules (1)

digitalgimpus (468277) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392028)

CPM has the benefit of costing bandwidth. To show 100,000 CPM, it requires 100,000 pageviews. Provided the image is loaded off a 3rd party's server, you can check the IP, referrer (not a dummy page, but actual page on the site), and rate.

Affiliate doesn't get as many clicks... but actually translates into cash.

Problem is, per click is cheap. They hand out a penny (or fraction) each time they get a click. Easy to track, monitor.

But not an effective business practice.

IMHO these companies weren't well concieved. Poor business planning. You don't run a business if you can't validate your method of income.

What about this (1)

adeydas (837049) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392053)

And that's why affilate programs are lot better for the companies than stuff like Google AdSense...

Screwing up adverts is great. (2, Insightful)

shrewtamer (521554) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392105)

Ok some adverts can provide a moments amusement, but on the whole they are a pain. While the google ads are (at the moment) quite unobtrusive (especially with an adblocker!) they are still part of an industry which is crying out for a bloody good kicking.

Ads accross wireless medium:
The airwaves belong to everyone. This is a limited resource so there has to be some regulation but we sure as hell don't want to piss it away on people trying to get their bullshit imagery into your head for their sordid profit.

Ads accross wires:
I don't know about the States but in the places I have lived the telecommunications networks were set up with public funding. It seems that most places have now privatised their telecommunications networks, state assets, belonging to all, being sold for a fraction of their true value for the benefit of the rich. With the advent of VOIP and large scale public adhoc wireless networking the business model of the telecommunications companies is no longer viable and this basic resource should be brought back into the public domain.

Bill boards / train adverts:
These things are nauseating. Why as human beings should we suffer this indignity? I'd prefer the raw sewage people used to throw onto the streets in Victorian times to the demeaning bullshit the advertiser assaults us with.

To sum it up......adverts STEAL our SUNSHINE.

Those of you who disagree with me will be pleased to know that I had to move to a small island in the Pacific to escape from all this...the universe is beautiful and the sun bestows its wealth on all!

Unfortunatley it looks like the political forces of the West have decided to lay waste to the world. One way or another all this advertising must stop.

Re:Screwing up adverts is great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11392262)

It's people like you who are the true banes of society. Do you realize ads subsidize and offset a lot of costs for the consumer? Without ads you think Google would even bother to exist? Before you talk, think about all the consequences that come along with what you're hinting at.

It's people who think like you, people who think they're ENTITLED to be treated like royalty, who "STEAL our SUNSHINE".

this FP for GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11392145)

the project to may be hurting the there are only de3per into the much as Windows wYhen done playing [nero-online.org].

Beware of the "Content" network in Adwords (2, Interesting)

WoTG (610710) | more than 9 years ago | (#11392148)

I've used google adwords for a couple small campaigns. I suspect that I've been a victim of "click fraud" on the content network -- that's where your ads appear on third party websites. However, on the Google search network, the only entity who directly benefits from clicks is Google themselves. I'm pretty comfortable with the traffic I get from the search clicks.
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