Click fraud cover story for Businessweek

September 22nd, 2006

0640covdc.gifBusinessweek has a long and generally good cover story article on Click
fraud
.

Martin Fleischmann put his faith in online advertising. … Now, Fleischmann’s faith has been shaken. Over the past three years, he has noticed a growing number of puzzling clicks coming from such places as Botswana, Mongolia, and Syria. … Fleischmann is a victim of click fraud: a dizzying collection of scams and deceptions that inflate advertising bills for thousands of companies of all sizes. The spreading scourge poses the single biggest threat to the Internet’s advertising gold mine and is the most nettlesome question facing Google and Yahoo, whose digital empires depend on all that gold.

A part of this problem is due to splogs. The article notes that

The trouble arises when the Internet giants boost their profits by recycling ads to millions of other sites, ranging from the familiar, such as cnn.com, to dummy Web addresses like insurance1472.com, which display lists of ads and little if anything else.

One of the easiest ways to set up a sites with ads that your “paid to read” gang clicks on is to establish a nest of splogs and automatically populate them with plagiarized content from other blogs. Companies like Google and Yahoo can benefit from better automatic splog detection. It might be possible to test this hypothesis by analyzing the frequency of splogs as a source of clicks for an advertiser. If anyone whould like to share their data we might be able to do such an analysis. Contact us if you are interested.