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Mark Cuban on ClickFraud

Posted By Darren Rowse 3rd of June 2006 Pro Blogging News 0 Comments

Mark Cuban posts on Why I think ClickFraud is far greater than imagined. The whole click fraud thing continues to nag at me as a publisher who is attempting to make an honest living. I know as the current state of play stands that things are good for honest folk like us – but as click fraud continues to rise it can only threaten us. I’m not sure where it’s all headed or how (or if) it will be resolved but leaves me with a nagging worry.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • There is click fraud. There is no doubt about it.
    The question is how to separate click fraud from bad copy that does not convert to a sale to the advertiser. Then there is the problem of whose copy is bad. The affiliate page the customer is sent to or the copy in the original ad (Adword?). Is the ad even getting the right targeted market to send to the affiliate?
    On the other hand, how many teenage website owners are going to resist having their friends do a little extra clicking on their website. Not to just point and teenagers I’m sure there are many adult that do it too.
    These are all questions that come to my mind whenever I hear the term click fraud. I think it is hard to tell the difference in some situations while easy in some.
    Maybe the end result will be the end of PPC and advertisers eventually will only pay for leads or conversions. This would be bad for those reliant on Adsense type advertising on their sites. It would eliminate a lot of usless spam sites since they would not be very profitable.

  • Jon

    That’s funny [not click fraud] but I have you and Mark one-two [you’re one!] on my Yahoo! page and now you have the same story headline…didn’t know ProBlogger was BlogMaverick fan…I’m betting you don’t read all the stories about bad hoops refs :)

  • Jon

    Oh yes, nagging worry accurately describes how I feel able click fraud and the ppc model in general.

  • I agree, but just like with spammers as the problem gets worse the solutions get better. E-mail spam filters have become extremely accurate (while technically very simple). Google’s getting better every day at blocking content spam. Click fraud will be the same. Although click fraud is a unique and difficult problem, so I do have some concerns. But with a bunch of PhDs working on it I’m sure some interesting solutions will appear.

  • Well Google makes money from click fraud, so while they are prob concerned to some degree, perhaps they are closing an eye. So don’t be too worried just yet.

  • JT

    It is definately a worry for me. It is and will continue driving down what advertisers will pay for honest clicks.

    In the long run it may end up so low that it is not worth it.

  • sure clickfrauds would still be growing but i believe adsense is already putting a great effort combating them. tsk, honesty.

  • rob

    It seems like something has got to give with Click Fraud. I imagine that eventually PPC pay outs will be so miniscule that it will hardly be worth using unless you have traffic the likes of BoingBoing or LifeHacker.

    Not to say there won’t be other ways to make money on the web (perhaps better) that come up, but I just don’t think that spammers, click fruad, link farms and the like will get smarter and smarter and it will be just a matter of trying stay one step ahead of the game.

  • Ultimately, it is going to have to be the responsibility of Google, Yahoo, MSN or whoever is running the advertising network to try and keep ahead of click fraud. To try and place the burden on the publisher is a plan for disaster, which is the strategy that Google seems to appreciate the most. This has caused a great deal of angst towards the AdSense program by many publishers. The ad networks need to get ahead of the problem and stop trying to pass responsibility off to others.

  • I’m sure that some botnets exist solely to perform clickfraud. However, I think that the operators of these botnets perform their fraud on competitor’s sites in order to make Google step in and take away the competitor’s income stream. By taking away the money, the fraud artists hope the competitor will stop trying to compete. I’m just throwing this out there…

  • You know what I’m going to say Darren :) – you have a right to be worried.

    Pay per click never worked in the adult side of the industry because of click fraud and it’s not going to work here either. It doesn’t matter how many times the CEO of Google says that click fraud doesn’t exist, click fraud is under control, click fraud isn’t a problem, the fact remains that click fraud is a problem that won’t go away.

    And it’s likely to become even more of a problem for Google if their bogus offer in the class action is rejected – because then you’re going to see lots of aggrieved advertisers coming out of the woodwork and the financial impact is going to hurt.

    So anyone who wants to make money from their website needs to be looking at other forms of advertising and implementing them sooner rather than later. If they don’t they’re going to wake up one morning and find their business plans in tatters.

    Of course, I don’t expect anyone to believe me and that’s ok because I reserve the right to say ‘I told you so’ when their worst nightmare happens.

  • I couldn’t agree with him more. I’m sure it’s a much bigger issue than Google has been admitting. I used to spend several thousand per month on Adwords, but I won’t anymore because I felt click fraud was part of the reason I didn’t get a satisfactory return.

  • PK

    Click fraud is like spam. It will never really go away, but they can reduce it. I think what is likely to happen is that advertisers will just accept it as part of doing business.

    In some ways, the fuss about it is probably a bit overdone. I’m sure a lot of those who watch TV ads have no intention of buying the product. What % of those who watch car ads during 60 minutes actually buy a car soon afterwards? Advertisers seem willing to accept the fact that they’re paying for an audience many of who aren’t interested in their product there, and will eventually do so on the internet.

    In the end, it should be about cost/return. If my adWords campaign costs me $x and generates $x+20% in profits, then it’s worth doing. If it generates $x – 10% then it’s not. How many clicks the ads generate is irrelevant. And if some of those clicks are bogus, too bad. I’m still getting a 20% return which is more than the stockmarket generally gives.

    If advertisers are really worried about click fraud, then they have 2 choices. One is abandon advertising on the internet, and miss out on the juicy demographic. The other is to use pay-per-view, which still has a lot of waste with those not interested in the product.

    Google etc should definitely take actions to prevent click fraud as much as possible, but some wasted money in advertising is a fact of life. Always has been and probably always will be.

    What really upsets them is that the myth that you can get 100% hot-leads for your ad spend rather than the usual 10% or less has been shattered.

  • There are lots of people who stand to loose if this system collapses. Think of Google and its staff and investors. I believe more than 50% of Google earnings are from Adwords/Adsense. There is a market equilibrium somewhere – comes down to supply and demand. As long as advertisers are willing to pay, the ball keeps rolling. Well said PK.

  • PK: Or sue Google.

  • Most disturbing is the lack of tracking done by advertisers on the actual value of this type of advertising. These folks don’t even know what ‘click-fraud’ actually means. There is something inherently

    I predict the eroding confidence in the utility and objectivity of Google search results, as evidenced by the increasing number of people actively seeking alternatives, will be the thing that kills them. If people stop using Google, then that cuts out the heart of their revenue. Add the fact that they are just a tool for oppression of freedom and ideas (read:China), and I am having some serious thoughts about hosting AdSense at all.

  • sgx singapore: There were also lots of people who stood to lose when the DotCom bubble burst.

  • Google is king of the world right now. No one has their reach in PPC advertising. They have enormous market influence and power. A lot of netpreneurs depend on Google for a living. So we hope they continue to prosper…. and give us a bigger share of Adsense clicks :)
    I see your point Tom, but a Google burst could have more effect than all of your dotcom bursts combined.

  • CPCcurmudgeon


    Let’s not forget that the Google settlement covers a time period within which click fraud was not as widely publicized as it is today. There were some advertisers who got refunds, while others did not, either because they never asked for refunds, or their requests were denied. And those who got refunds may not have gotten all they deserved.

    FWIW, it surprises me that the Google engineers allowed AdWords/AdSense to go into production without a much higher degree of fraud detection and advertiser options for limiting exposure.

  • Click Fraud is an intersting topic, one which will cost you an estimated 20%. This is an interesting article with valuable information. What we and many other webmasters are starting to do is invest some of our marketing dollars into a click fraud prevention/protection software. If you are looking for the best one for your company i recommend you take a look at:

    Mike Baker