Curbing Click Fraud: Services and Tools for Stemming the Loss of Ad Dollars

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Despite the many advantages these solutions offer, it is important to remember that, as yet, none of the firms are able to offer any kind of guaranteed protection, because of the sheer sophistication of those individuals committing click fraud. Moreover, none of the solutions offered here were actually implemented by me; rather, I have simply reviewed their methodologies to try to gauge what options are available to those seeking protection.

Optimal IQ’s Click Forensics’ approach to the problem of fraud is to offer its customers reporting methodologies and alerts, so that they can detect the problem and report it themselves. The company uses log analysis for monitoring purposes—or you can opt for real time tracking using their TAG iQT system on your server, which utilizes cookies and, according to their website, breaks out “behavioral attributes include things like: visit depth, viewing pattern, trend analysis, and search term value. Technical attributes begin with anonymous proxy identification, IP validation, cookie-to-IP validation, and origination source.” Their system then sends alerts to your company and offers detailed reporting on your campaigns and which clicks and campaigns have the highest propensity for being fraudulent or attracting fraud.

Optimal IQ’s customers also receive overview reporting that lists each campaign and then offers columns that report number of paid clicks, median bids, total spend, a threat percentage level, and potential losses; detailed reporting breaks out browser, platform, IP addresses, page views, etc., accompanied by columns that give the reason for the threat alert. Those include number of views by the clicker, whether they used a proxy server (which could be used to hide their identity), whether an IP address was reported, number of repeat visits in 3 days, duplicate hits from the same host, non-US clicks, and their threat level assessment. Overall, this is a comprehensive and helpful solution.

A provider called ClickAssurance operates in a very similar manner to Optimal IQ. The difference between the two companies seems to be that ClickAssurance takes a more hands-on approach to the problem, offering both fraud reporting and refund tracking services. They will follow-up on reports, generate the communications and much more. Just consider it a few extra baubles thrown into your Easter basket.A provider called operates in a very similar manner to Optimal IQ. The difference between the two companies seems to be that ClickAssurance takes a more hands-on approach to the problem, offering both fraud reporting and refund tracking services. They will follow-up on reports, generate the communications and much more. Just consider it a few extra baubles thrown into your Easter basket.

Another approach to the problem, which seems to be more oriented towards small to mid-size businesses, is that taken by AdWatcher.com. Theirs is not only a tool that watches for and alerts you to click fraud; it is also an ad management and tracking system. This seems to be a more simplified approach that tracks visitors and looks for repeated or excessive clicks from the same source. There are, however, drawbacks to this model: though it may be effective for identifying less sophisticated sources of click fraud, those that are “professionals” at the fraud game will easily be able to circumvent this capability using tools that automatically delete cookies and change or mask IP addresses.

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