As Google AdWords and Google AdSense becomes more mainstream, the rate of fraud from self-clicking (commonly called Google-bation), and click-draining (clicking on competitors ads), will increase exponentially.
The problem is that the electronic antichrist has an obvious conflict of interest in eliminating fraud. Like most web site owners running Google Adsense, you probably are tempted to just "test" ads to make sure all the html you have embedded on your site is working.
In some markets these little "tests" can reward the web site owner over $ 20 per click. Drugs, bank loans and obesity cures pay pretty well I'm told.
And if you only test one click per day, that's $ 140 per week. You and Google share the booty and if the pain is spread across multiple AdWords advertisers. Who is to know? What are the chances of being caught?
The super-paranoid defrauders who do their research will probably discover the joys of anonymous proxy servers. With these little beauties you can click on your ads all day long. An iPod by lunchtime, a new Xbox 360 by dinner – the money and the buzz of ripping off the electronic antichrist becomes addictive.
And for the truly entrepreneurial why not hire some click-workers in a low-wage country?
Some entry click-workers roam from Internet cafe to Internet cafe in large third world cities with lists of web sites in their hands. They may use up to 15 different cafés per day in an effort to show the Google database different IP addresses.
Their full time job is to click on AdSense ads on specific web sites. They get 10 – 20 cents per click – substantial and pretty easy money for them. The AdSense publisher and Google get much more, and the poor old AdWords advertiser feet the bill.
And on the flip-side if you want to drain away your competitors advertising budget the technology is just click away.
It's 8:30. You've just arrived at work. You unlock your PC and open your browser – Firefox of course.
Taking your first slurp of coffee you go to Google and search on a keyword phrase for your industry. At top and right of page you see your competitor's ads.
You put your coffee down.
Click, click, click, click (center-button tab browsing is the best thing since the web browser). There goes $ 120 of your competitors advertising budget. Google is $ 120 richer.
You do this every day … $ 28,800 per year of your competitor's advertising budget blown on your coffees.
The phone rings. It's that boring client from Sydney. While you listen to her tales of woe on the phone you search on a term that may be related to her business.
Bingo! There they are. Click, refresh, click, refresh. That call just cost her $ 30.
You see the Google business model does not take into account human nature. Some people are greedy, rude, arrogant and nasty. Correction, a lot of people are greedy, rude, arrogant and nasty, especially if cash is involved.
Google has taken away with it for so long (2-3 years), because the same sort of people is not that tech-savvy. There were a few exceptions of course, but they were lost in the white noise.
Not now. As Google AdWords and AdSense becomes mainstream the rates of Google-bation and click-draining will increase.
This year watch out for the growth pay-per-action and pay-per-sale. The affiliate marketers have it right.