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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Clickbot.A eh? Google's Handwaving Exposes AdWords Structural Flaws

Have you read The Anatomy of Clickbot.A by Neil Daswani, Michael Stoppelman, and the Google Click Quality and Security Teams? (Found via Inside AdWords.) While it might be pretty interesting for a dork like myself, it makes me wonder how serious Google is about protecting the interests of its customers, AdWords advertisers. It's about Clickbot.A, a "botnet operator attempting a low-noise click fraud attack against syndicated search engines by creating doorway sites that posed as subsyndicate search engines, and by entering into referral deals." Google is trying to distance itself from the problem. Look at this graphic of the click fraud money trail from the report:

google adwords click fraud

The accompanying text is quite telling:
It is important to note that in a Clickbot.A-type attack, top-tier search engines would not pay miscreants directly. Instead, they would pay syndicated search engines a share of revenue, and syndicated search engines would, in turn, pay a share of their revenue to doorway sites that posed as sub-syndicated search engines or referral accounts set up by the bot operator.
Sorry, Shuman. Google is culpable. Clean up your syndication network! Apply smart pricing to the search network. Mark as invalid clicks any that mask the referer. Fix your structural flaws. The Clickbot.A report didn't even mention whether these clicks were on the search network or the content network. That's important information that was left out. Move AdSense for Domains traffic off of both the search network and content network and build a new domain network. These options no longer suffice:

google ad network distribution options

Perhaps Google is afraid to show the world the crazy aunt in the basement spinning straw into gold? BTW, that "crazy aunt" quote cracks me up. But, distribution fraud is no laughing matter. Nor is the AdWords expanded matching flaw. These types of problems are more of a day-to-day concern for PPC advertisers than a botnet that's "attempting a low-noise click fraud attack." No, the handwaving doesn't ease any click fraud concerns. Instead, it exposes other AdWords structural flaws.

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Blogger Alan said...

I wondered when the clicks were invalidated -- before or after Panda detected the network?


Thu Apr 12, 12:29:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Alan said...

better, as a link

Thu Apr 12, 12:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

That's an interesting point, Alan. Would Google have caught this click fraud w/o the outside help?

Also, I notice on your blog you identify the invalid clicks as coming from content ads. How do you know the clicks were not distributed on the search network?

Thu Apr 12, 01:06:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Google has been caught numerous times acting counter to it's own declared "ethics".
So how does anyone know this clickbot.a wasn't sponsered by google or some google employee's.

afer all, google is the one who would gain the most AND!!!! how is it google who has all the insider information on the click info did not find this but some 3rd party did... without the root log info on google servers?

ok so now google does a clean up. waits a while and runs a new scam... as clickbot.a and $90 mil click fruad refund credits indicate?

just to make myself clear, I am not accusing google because I have no evidence.
You think thats bad, just wait till Google gets top level access to the commo airwaves.

Sat Aug 18, 05:14:00 AM EDT  

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