Online Advertising Fraud 101

 

Online Advertising Fraud 101

 

I have long been of the opinion that the lack of transparency on the web is one of its growing and impending problems. It has become clear to observant consumers that it is very easy to create a false and misleading impression on the internet if one has the skill and desire to do so (for financial benefit).

It hasn't taken long for advertising to become just as big on the internet as it always has been in more traditonal commerce. While the majority of online advertising purveyors are legitimate businesses or solopreneurs, it has recently been revealed that, in the aggregate, there is a tremendous about of money lost, by advertisers, to advertising schemes and scams.

In fact, no less prestigious authority than Advertising Age’s online magazine recently stated that 1 out of 3 advertising dollars spent are siphoned off by fraud. They estimated the total lost was $18.5B. That’s a lot of money.

But, like anything else, this subject has already gotten obscured, to most people, by terminology and a lack of understanding of the basics involved. That’s what this article is about.

Another commonly used name for ‘online advertising fraud’ is ‘Click Fraud’.

Click fraud is especially common in something you've probably at least have heard about…PPC (pay per click) advertising. It occurs when a person, automated script or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad, for the purpose of generating a charge per click without having actual interest in the target of the ad's link.

Click fraud is the subject of some controversy and increasing litigation due to the advertising networks being a key beneficiary of the fraud.

In the book, The Search: How Google and its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed our Culture, media entrepreneur and journalist John Battelle described click fraud as the "decidedly black-hat" practice of publishers illegitimately gaming paid search advertising by employing robots or low-wage workers to repeatedly click on each AdSense ad on their sites, thereby generating money to be paid by the advertiser to the publisher and to Google.

Pay-per-click advertising

PPC advertising is an arrangement in which webmasters (operators of websites), acting as publishers, display clickable links from advertisers in exchange for a charge per click. As this industry evolved, a number of advertising networks developed, which acted as middlemen between these two groups (publishers and advertisers).

And of course, any time there’s big money involved, some people succumb to the temptation of scamming consumers.

 

Each time a (believed to be) valid Web user clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays the advertising network, which in turn pays the publisher a share of this money. This revenue-sharing system is seen as an incentive for click fraud.

The largest of the advertising networks is Google's AdWords/AdSense and Yahoo! Search Marketing. They actually act in a dual role, since they are also publishers themselves (on their search engines).[3]

According to critics, this complex relationship may create a conflict of interest. This is because these companies lose money to undetected click fraud when paying out to the publisher but make more money when collecting fees from the advertiser. Because of the spread between what they collect and pay out, unfettered click fraud would create short-term profits for these companies.

Non-contracting parties

A secondary source of click fraud is non-contracting parties, who are not part of any pay-per-click agreement. This type of fraud is even harder to police because perpetrators generally cannot be sued for breach of contract or charged criminally with fraud. Here are some examples:

  • Competitors of advertisers: These parties may wish to harm a competitor who advertises in the same market by clicking on their ads. The perpetrators do not profit directly but force the advertiser to pay for irrelevant clicks, thus weakening or eliminating a source of competition.

  • Competitors of publishers: These persons may wish to frame a publisher. It is made to look as if the publisher is clicking on its own ads. The advertising network may then terminate the relationship. Many publishers rely exclusively on revenue from advertising and could be put out of business by such an attack.

  • Other malicious intent: As with vandalism, there are many motives for wishing to cause harm to either an advertiser or a publisher, even by people who have nothing to gain financially. Motives include political and personal vendettas. These cases are often the hardest to deal with, since it is difficult to track down the culprit, and if found, there is little legal action that can be taken against them.

  • Friends of the publisher: Sometimes upon learning a publisher profits from ads being clicked, a supporter of the publisher (like a fan, family member, political party supporter, charity patron or personal friend) will click on the ads to help. This can be considered patronage. However, this can backfire when the publisher (not the friend) is accused of click fraud.

Advertising networks may try to stop fraud by all parties but often do not know which clicks are legitimate. Unlike fraud committed by the publisher, it is difficult to know who should pay when past click fraud is found. Publishers resent having to pay refunds for something that is not their fault. However, advertisers are adamant that they should not have to pay for phony clicks.

Organization

Click fraud can be as simple as one person starting a small Web site, becoming a publisher of ads, and clicking on those ads to generate revenue. Often the number of clicks and their value is so small that the fraud goes undetected. Publishers may claim that small amounts of such clicking is an accident, which is often the case.

However, this technique can be scaled up considerably. Those engaged in large-scale fraud will often run scripts which simulate human clicking on ads in Web pages. However, huge numbers of clicks appearing to come from just one, or a small number of computers, or a single geographic area, obviously look highly suspicious to the advertising network and advertisers.

Clicks coming from a computer known to be that of a publisher (which can be and usually is tracked) also look suspicious to those watching for click fraud. For that basic reason, a person attempting large-scale fraud from one computer stands a good chance of being caught.

One type of fraud that usually circumvents detection is based on IP patterns uses existing user traffic and turning this traffic into clicks or impressions. These types of attacks can be camouflaged from users by using 0-size iframes to display advertisements that are programmatically retrieved using JavaScript.

They could also be camouflaged from monitors (advertisers and portals) by ensuring that so-called "reverse spiders" are presented with a legitimate page, while human visitors are presented with a page that commits click fraud.

The use of 0-size iframes and other techniques involving human visitors may also be combined with the use of incentivized traffic where members of "Paid to Read" (PTR) sites (often in developing countries) are paid small amounts of money to visit a website and/or click on keywords and search results, sometimes hundreds or thousands of times every day.

Some owners of PTR sites are members of PPC engines and may send many email ads to users who do search, while sending few ads to those who do not. They do this mainly because the charge @ click on search results is often the only source of revenue to the site. This is known as forced searching, a practice that is frowned upon in the Get Paid To industry.

Organized crime or wealthy solopreneur scammers can handle this by having many computers with their own Internet connections in different geographic locations. Because the scripts they use often fail to mimic true human behavior, these operators use Trojan code to turn the average person's machines into zombie computers and use sporadic redirects or DNS cache poisoning to turn the oblivious user's actions into actions generating revenue for the scammer.

These are pretty smart people, i.e. smart at their craft. Thus not only are they good at covering their trails technically but it is usually very difficult for advertisers, advertising networks, and authorities to pursue cases against networks of people spread around multiple developing countries.

Impression fraud is when falsely generated ad impressions affect an advertiser's account. In the case of click-through rate based auction models, the advertiser may be penalized for having an unacceptably low click-through for a given keyword. This involves making numerous searches for a keyword without clicking of the ad. Such ads are disabled[7]

Hit inflation attack

A hit inflation attack is a kind of fraudulent method used by some advertisement publishers to earn unjustified revenue on the traffic they drive to the advertisers’ Web sites. It is more sophisticated and harder to detect than a simple inflation attack.

This process involves the collaboration of two counterparts, a dishonest publisher, P, and a dishonest Web site, S. Web pages on S contain a script that redirects the customer to P's Web site, and this process is hidden from the customer. So, when user U retrieves a page on S, it would simulate a click or request to a page on P's site.

P's site has two kinds of web pages: a manipulated version, and an original version. The manipulated version simulates a click or request to the advertisement, causing P to be credited for the click-through. P selectively determines whether to load the manipulated (and thus fraudulent) script to U's browser by checking if it was from S. This can be done through the Referrer field, which specifies the site from which the link to P was obtained. All requests from S will be loaded with the manipulated script, and thus the automatic and hidden request will be sent.

This attack will silently convert every innocent visit to S to a click on the advertisement on P's page. Even worse, P can be in collaboration with several dishonest Web sites, each of which can be in collaboration with several dishonest publishers.

If the advertisement commissioner visits the Web site of P, the non-fraudulent page will be displayed, and thus P cannot be accused of being fraudulent. Without a reason for suspecting that such collaboration exists, the advertisement commissioner has to inspect all the Internet sites to detect such attacks, which is infeasible. Another proposed method for detection of this type of fraud is through use of site parameters specified by the respective advertising association.

Online advertising fraud isn't anything that's going to be stamped out overnight. The internet is a jungle where the fight for survival is constant. Perhaps the good thing to recognize here is that online advertising fraud has only recently being recognized as a serious problem. That being the case, it might even spawn a new, entrepreneurial, industry of ad-revenue protection.

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

What to Do If Your Mobile Phone Is Stolen

stolen mobile phone

stolen mobile phone

What to Do If Your Mobile Phone Is Stolen

Losing a mobile phone is not an uncommon thing for anyone in this world. You must have heard that your friend or any other person forget his or her phone in a hotel, car, garden, restaurant, etc.  And when he or she goes back to pick up their mobile phone, the mobile phone is not where he or she left it. Now what to do if your mobile phone is stolen.

In many countries like UK, there is a mobile phone database, which can prevent lost or stolen mobile phones from being used on any mobile network, thus these stolen mobile phones are worthless to anyone.

This system exactly works like a stolen credit card, whenever you lose your credit card, you simply make a phone call to your bank to deactivate your credit card. Similar is the case with mobile phones, you call your service provider and give them a specific number to deactivate your stolen mobile phone. This system applies to both prepay and postpaid packages.

Every mobile phone in this world has a unique code called as International mobile equipment identity (IMEI Number). This is a unique serial number that every mobile phone have. If you provide this serial number to your network operator, they will deactivate your stolen mobile phone. No one can use your mobile phone even if the person who has stolen your mobile phone, insert a new sim card into the mobile phone. This mobile phone will be useless on all networks or service providers. All mobile network operators will deactivate or disable the phone by referencing the unique IMEI number of the mobile phone.

Now question is how to get this IMEI number? This number can normally be found under the battery of mobile phone (looking something like 004400/01/123456/7). You can also get this number from the phone software, by entering the following code. Simply dial * # 0 6 #  on your mobile phone.

A 15 digit code will appear on the screen after pressing the send button, or in some phones it comes automatically just by entering * # 0 6 #. So whenever you buy a mobile phone, get this code from the battery or by simply dialing the above code on your phone to get IMEI number.

After this record this 15 digit IMEI number and your phone number on your personal note book, place this book at a safe place and that’s it.

Now suppose you misplaced your phone, make a call to your service provider and give them your phone number and this particular key i.e. IMEI number. They will deactivate your stolen mobile phone. You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones

Remember your mobile phone is very valuable for you. You may have very important data stored in it. So take care of your mobile phones. Don't use your mobile in crowded areas or where you might feel unsafe. Government is trying to encourage mobile phone companies to give more options for improving mobile phone security.

So remember this simple code * # 0 6 #. Tell all your friends and colleagues to get the IMEI number with the help of this code. If all of us simply follow this tip of making mobile secure, believe me no one will try to steal anyone's mobile phone.

Ida Mae Boyd
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Wealthy People Always Network: Are You Doing The Same?

Want to generate consistent, predictable and long-term residual income like wealthy people?  If yes, then, you have to follow certain proven economic/financial principles that ensure wealth-generation.  Now, the definition of wealthy isn’t restricted to those who possess extraordinary large sums of fiat currency but also, include those with mindsets receptive to thinking and executing beyond the limits of conventional restriction (yeah, The entrepreneur).  This applies to those non-comformists who were ridiculed in high school, thought of as techies in college and then, exalted as heroes in adulthood.  So, the question of networking is important because it establishes a foundation where the journey of your success begins with the collective support of other potential business partners with the same vision as yourself.  The Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s, of the world can definitely relate.  So, what motivates these malcontents and why do they do it?

Well, many have identified the following psychological needs as being core factors to their pursuit: personal achievement (lifelong dream), autonomy, creativity and freedom.  Even if, you were not an entrepreneur the aforementioned psychological needs are self-explanatory in having great value in the lives of any individual who craves normalcy.      

Now, wealthy people are generally entrepreneurial and seek opportunities to invest their money in ventures that will yield a positive return on their investment.  One of the ways they do it is by team-building or networking with other like-minded people, who share the same vision, philosophy of financial prosperity, technical expertise and willingness to take calculated risks to achieve success.  Oh yes, the wealthy are willing to network with geniuses/mavericks who possess another approach to problem-solving, while developing new innovations to make things more efficient and ultimately profitable.  Please recognize the creation of a Mastermind Group was no accident and continues to this day because of the obvious benefits it yields to its members.  I trust you are onboard, I hope.        

In truth, the wealthy work with others because they recognize the importance of strength in numbers, which increases the probability of success as compared to going it alone, which increases the severity of potential loss.  Billionaire J. Paul Getty, once said, “I would rather profit from 1% off the efforts of 100 people rather than 100% of my own efforts”.  Obviously, Getty knew something about wealth-generation, but more importantly, he knew the importance of working with others, because strength in numbers reduces risk and provides greater knowledge about similar challenges in the future.  The more sophisticated you are in any area of success then; your odds of success explode. 

Now, are you networking or building a team of entrepreneurs who share the same vision of success that you possess or are you doing it all by yourself?  If you go it alone then, be prepared to spend more money out of your pockets because your risk has increased exponentially.  Additionally, if, you are networking with entrepreneurs who FEAR different approaches or refuse to adjust to changing market conditions and more importantly, needs of their customers then, you are a Dead Dealer destined for the MLM Cemetery.  Why shoulder the burden of your entrepreneurial dream, when you can benefit from the efforts of an entire global online community that receives solid training and support from an entrepreneur dedicated to helping the little guy and gal.   

Are you receptive to benefiting from the collective efforts of a professionally trained global network of entrepreneurs producing quality content through one of the most technologically advanced blogging platforms available for free?  Additionally, you will be able to access an arsenal of content creation resources and tools that will enhance your knowledge base as a marketer.  How about creation of groups being an integral part of the success within Markethive because this is where our network of guys and gals employ the Hivemind into providing solutions to problems through our collective content creation efforts.  Nothing like having a ready-made team of like-minded people, who are ready to work for you?  Well, you now see why the wealthy continue to reign supreme, because they connect with others, so as to leverage their efforts and investment by working with others, while the average broke Richard (Dick) does things unilaterally and generates no return on his investment.  Ready to change your philosophy of going it alone or remaining with a network of so called entrepreneurs who fail to recognize their Comfort Zone is really their Failure Zone?  Let’s not forget playing it safe is costly because in today’s business environment being stagnant as the World passes you by ensures your failure.   

Let’s look at some of the social networks exclusive to the wealthy:

Metropolitan Club, a social network for what was described as obnoxious rich people and fittingly suffered its destruction 2-months after its debut in 2014.

aSmallWorld.Net, an invitation only social network of very young millionaires, who wanted to keep their clique very exclusive.

Total Prestige, an invitation-only networking site for one of the world’s most underserved internet demographics: the super- and super-duper rich … Ten members are billionaires. Most of them come from Europe and the Middle East, and range from royalty and entrepreneurs to entertainers. To get an idea of what these folks are blogging about: One recent post seeks advice for avoiding pirates while yachting up the African coastline."

Diamond Lounge, another exclusive group that is by invitation only of social networks consisting of Hedge fund managers, VC’S and CEOs.

Affluence.org, this is Facebook for the filthy rich.  Cost is FREE but, requirement of a household income of $3 Million must be verified.

TopCom, is a highly secure exclusive club that is like Facebook, Twitter.

Qube and Elysiants, luxury social network that became the most exclusive international social network for high net worth individuals on the planet."

Relationship Science, is a business development tool that provides influential people profiles very similar to LinkedIn.

Vaurn James

Contributor

 

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Spirit of the Entrepreneur!

Entrepreneurs posses a driving spirit:

You hear it all the time from famous business owners: They started flexing their entrepreneurial skills by selling lemonade on the corner, building gadgets in their garage or hosting weekly college beer pong tournaments before they were running multimillion-dollar companies. It would appear that behind every mogul that is successful a kid who was raised knowing these people were born for business.

But what is it that sets entrepreneurs apart from the remainder? What is it which makes people certain of themselves sufficient to just take the prospect of failure head-on and have the determination to emerge on the top? It requires a special types of individual to create a notion in motion, riding the highs and lows from humble beginnings to ultimate success.

The spirit that is entrepreneurial is a gift that inspires other people to end up being the best they could be. From passion and positivity to leadership and aspiration, here you will find the entrepreneurs that most usefully define the entrepreneurial character.

Passion:

No body embodies the term "passion" quite like Richard Branson, creator for the Virgin mega-brand. Part of Branson's passion lies in his insatiable appetite for starting businesses. Established in 1970, the Virgin Group has expanded to a lot more than 200 organizations, ranging from music, publishing, mobile phones and space travel. "Businesses are like buses," he when stated. "There's always a different one coming."

Element of Branson's appeal is he not only has passion for business, but an incredible passion for life. Branson is well-known for an adventurous streak and zest for a lifetime, making him the most admired business owners for their power to have a work/life balance that is successful.

Positivity:

Jeff Bezos knows the charged power of good reasoning. Living by the motto that "every challenge is an opportunity," Bezos attempted to create the bookstore that is biggest on earth with just a little internet startup called Amazon.

Amazon.com established in July 1995, was able to sell $20,000 per week within two months. By the  end associated with the '90s, however, the dot-com bust had brought Amazon's stocks from $100 to $6. To incorporate insults to injuries, experts predicted that the launch of Barnes & Nobles' competing website would wipe out Amazon. Rather than hiding for fear of losing, Bezos came out fighting with optimism and self-confidence, pointing down to critics most of the positive things his company had accomplished and would continue to do.

Bezos proceeded to expand Amazon, which now offers anything from publications to clothes to toys and much more. Bezos claims his spouse likes to state, "If Jeff is unhappy, wait 3 minutes." Thanks to Bezos' good thinking, Amazon.com has grown into a $5.7 billion company.

Adaptability:

Having the ability to adjust is one of the greatest skills an entrepreneur can have. Every business that is successful must be willing to enhance, refine and customize their services to constantly give customers whatever they want.

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page take this idea one step further by not merely reacting to improve, but leading the way. Google constantly leads the internet with revolutionary and new ideas that allow people to see and do things in many ways they couldn't have did before (think Google Earth). Making use of their ability to often be one action ahead, its no wonder Google is one of the many powerful organizations on the net.

Leadership:

A good leader is some body with charisma, a sense of ethics and an aspire to build integrity within an organization–someone who's enthusiastic, group oriented and a teacher that is great. Most of these characteristics had been embodied by the late Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, a company that has helped more than half a million ladies fulfill their fantasies of purchasing a company.

Ash's tale began as a mother that is single, working in sales for a home company many different items. Despite being one of many compannies with sales that are top for 25 years, Ash had repeatedly been refused the promotions and pay raises her male co-workers had been getting. Fed up because of the real way she was being addressed, Ash started Mary Kay Inc. in 1963 with $5,000.

Ash was most commonly known for being a motivator that was a powerful inspirational frontrunner, producing a business with a "You may do it!" mindset. Her sometimes over-the-top incentives included the famous pink Cadillacs she would provide top sales directors. Thanks to her effective leadership abilities, Ash was called one of many in a business that is influential in the last 35 years, and her company was recognized as among the best businesses in America.

Aspiration:

At age 20, Debbi Fields don't have much. She had been a housewife that is young with no business experience, but exactly what she did have was an excellent chocolate chip cookie recipe and a dream to talk about it changing the world.

Fields opened her very first Mrs. Field's store in 1977, despite being told she was crazy to believe a company could endure entirely on attempting to sell cookies. Fields' headstrong dedication and ambition helped her develop her small cookie shop into a $450 million business with 600 locations within the U.S. and 10 foreign nations.

Dennis Roeder
Contributor

  

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member