image description

Is Lead Fraud, Click Fraud 2.0? A New AdSense Scam Targeting Google AdWords Display Network Advertisers

What do Google AdWords PPC, Fake Leads, Click Fraud and Identity Theft Have in Common?

What does Pay Per Click Fraud, Fake Leads and Identity Theft have in common? Answer: The Google AdWords Display Network

Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to read is true. Not even the names have been changed to protect the innocent. What follows is an account of what at first seemed like a few fraudulent leads, but upon closer inspection included stolen personal information, unscrupulous AdSense publishers and a blind eye turned by those making money through these deceptive means.

Google AdWords Display/Content Network

Google AdWords Display Network (formerly the Content Network)

Following, are just the facts…

The purpose of this post is to draw attention to a fraudulent and deceptive practice that WebRanking has recently been a victim of involving:

  • the Google AdWords Display Network – the advertising platform that this fraud manipulated on.
  • a Google AdSense affiliate – google_ad_client = “pub-7355375012544009”; who utilized and connected to sites such as and
  • Ngoc Ha Nguyen, and – The alleged offending entities.
  • (aka – a Google owned property that facilitated and hosted some of the AdWords ads that generated Fraudulent Clicks and Leads.
  • Click Fraud – the manner in which We, and most likely other AdWords advertisers, have been defrauded.
  • Identity Theft – Stolen personal information of identity theft victims were used to generate fake web leads through this scam.
  • WebRanking has made an honest and sincere attempt to understand this scam, connect as many of the details together as possible, and make this information available in it’s true form.

    However, only Google has the data regarding the true identities of AdSense publishers, Blogspot account holders, fraudulent visitors’ IP addresses and the parties whom benefit financially from this fraud.

    If you believe that you may have been a victim of click-fraud through the Google Display Network that resulted in fraudulent leads, please contact Google directly.

    Leads for top level, well known brands, at least for our boutique search agency, don’t come around every day. Or even every month for that matter. And when they do, they usually don’t fill out the “Free Consultation” request form.

    And you certainly don’t get 9 in a one week time period.

    In The Beginning…

    A few weeks back, when a stream of requests for our complimentary Search Marketing Consultation service began to come in from the likes of Amnesty International, the United States Postal Service, Oxford University Press and, my “spidey senses” began to tingle big time. It didn’t take a bite from a radioactive spider to tell me something just wasn’t right.

    Granted, we often receive spam inquires trying to pitch us SEO services (which always makes me laugh…), link building in India, male enhancement pills and emails from attractive women who swear they are single and really looking forward to meeting me.

    Yet this recent stream of spam inquiries was quite different:

    • They listed real websites of established brands
    • They were not part of any multi-level marketing, affiliate network or outsourcing rackets.
    • They attempted to look like real leads.
    • And as far as I could tell, none of them benefited from me visiting the websites listed.

    So what were their intentions? Why waste my time and theirs by clicking on one of our ads, and then filling out one of our forms for a company they apparently have no association with?

    Is this a new form of click fraud? Is “lead fraud” being perpetrated by unethical competitors looking to not only waste our CPC ad budget, but also waste our time by following up with these fake leads?

    I decided to try and find out.

    Episode I: A New Fraud

    First off, I collected all of the suspicious leads we received that week (9 total) to see if I could find some type of pattern or commonality between them.

    Here is what I gathered:

    • All of them listed a yahoo email address in their contact info.
    • Most of these listed yahoo emails did not appear to have any association with the listed website or the name given by the person inquiring.
    • None of the sites shared a specific theme or focus, other than the fact that 3 of them were involved in some type of “volunteer” service.
    • All of the inquiries originated here in the United States, however based upon the IP addresses all the leads were submitted from various locations (3 in Maryland, 3 in California, 1 Utah, 1 Florida and 1 Tennessee).
    • None of the listed URL’s contained any sort of tracking or affiliate code which would indicate that visiting the submitted website would bring some type of benefit to the person submitting it.
    • All of these leads came through advertising on the Google Display Network (formerly known as the Content Network). In fact, using analytics I was able to discover that they all came from one of two sources: and One site provides SEO Tools, while the other offers “SEO advice”.

    Chris Lister: Click Detective

    Searching for Pay Per Click Fraud CluesSo first things first, I decided to call all nine of these leads to see if there really was someone behind the phone numbers.

    • 1st phone number: No answer
    • 2nd phone number: Is no longer in service
    • 3rd phone number: Name on answering machine matched name on inquiry. Left message.

    It was upon the call to the 4th inquiry that I realized this might be a bigger deal then someone just sending in fake leads.

    The gentleman who answered the phone was the same person listed on the inquiry. However, he apparently had his credit card and personal information stolen last week, and had received similar calls from other companies. I asked him about the email address that was given on the inquiry, and he said one of the other companies he had spoken with had received the same email address.

    Interesting, but I still had more calls to make:

    • 5th Number: No answer. Message stated that the person had not yet set up their voicemail in box.
    • 6th Number: Had been disconnected or was no longer in service
    • 7th Number: No answer. Left voicemail
    • 8th Number: No answer after several attempts.
    • 9th Number: Was for a doctor’s office, and matched the name given on the inquiry but not the website URL submitted in the inquiry

    Ok, so what do we know now?

    Well, we know that several (if not all) of the numbers matched up with the names given on the inquiry. We also know that in one instance (and possibly more) the person listed on the inquiry recently had their credit card and personal information stolen.

    We also know that all of these particular inquiries had free email accounts with Yahoo, and according to the one gentleman I spoke with, it was not associated with him.

    Because of this my next step was to try and determine why these email addresses were listed and what purpose, if any, they served. This was possibly the one piece of information that could actually be connected to the person filling out the inquiry.

    So I sent out vague emails about their inquiry in an attempt to get a response. Immediately five returned with a Mail Delivery status stating that “this user doesn’t have a account”. I’ve yet to hear back from any of the remaining emails I sent out.

    Dead End.

    Click Wars Episode II: Attack of the Identity Thieves

    Personal Identity TheftBefore taking the Mystery Machine back to the car rental agency and throwing the towel in on my Scooby Doo investigation, I decided to make another round of phone calls the next day to see if I could connect with any of the other people listed on these leads. Surely this meddling kid could find some clues that would lead me closer to the truth. Here is what I found:

    • 1st Number: Spoke with the person listed on the lead form; they had not requested a free website consultation. THEY DID HAVE THEIR CREDIT CARD STOLEN WITHIN THE LAST WEEK.
    • 2nd Number: Still no longer in service.
    • 3rd Number: Left another message
    • 5th Number: Mailbox still had not been set up
    • 6th Number: Still disconnected
    • 7th Number: On my second call, I spoke with a gentleman related (husband?) to the person listed on the lead. He was somewhat reluctant to speak with me, but did confirm that a.) They had no relation to the website listed b.) They were not familiar with the email given and c.) THEY HAD BEEN A VICTIM OF EITHER A CREDIT CARD OR IDENTITY THEFT IN THE PAST MONTH!
    • 8th Number: On my second attempt answering machine picked up; name matched the name on the inquiry. Got a call back from the gentleman listed on the lead. We are the 8th SEO company to contact him. HE HAD HIS CREDIT CARD STOLEN LAST WEEK, with the person charging a $2,500 ticket on Air France, $400 on a porn site, and $19 for an unknown purchase.
    • 9th Number: On my second call, I actually spoke with the lead. He had no affiliation with the submitted site and had not contacted us or anyone else for that matter in regards to SEO services. Also, as far as he knew his credit card and personal information had not been jeopardized.

    Where does this Lead?

    Well, if this is some type of “lead fraud”, with the sole purpose of using up our advertising dollars and sales resources, I’m at a loss as to why they would bother going through the hassle of using an actual person’s name and phone number that appears to be obtained through less than scrupulous means.

    With 80% of those I managed to contact stating that they had recently had their credit card and personal information stolen, it is definitely more than just a coincidence. This has to tie in somehow.

    It is possible that this is lead fraud, but with a new twist; by using contact information of real people the person responsible for the fraud could be attempting to conceal the fact that this is not a legitimate lead. By utilizing lists of personal information obtained through nefarious means, they are adding some level of legitimacy (name and phone number) to the fraudulent lead.

    The Usual Suspects

    So who would benefit from this? Who are our prime suspects in this case?

    Unethical Search Marketing Agencies?

    Yes, as with click fraud, a likely suspect is a competitor looking to deplete the ad spend of his competitors who are utilizing paid search. When you consider that the 8th lead I spoke with said he had been contacted by 8 other SEO companies, this option seems reasonable.

    However, as there are numerous search marketing companies out there, it is hard to believe a click or two per day would make any sort of an economic impact on most competitors. So while other SEO companies could be considered suspects, they really aren’t high on the list of possible perpetrators.

    Conspiracy Theory

    Ok, so then what about the owners of the sites where the leads ordinated from?

    Yes, they do receive payment for the visitors, but that payment isn’t reliant on a consultation form being filled out, so taking these extra steps just doesn’t make sense…at least initially.

    However, what if they can get people to believe that the traffic purchased through their site is registering as goals in analytics and generating leads, then advertisers are more likely to continue advertising through their sites and would more than likely do so at a higher cost per click.

    This means more revenue for the site owners.

    But what really bothers me is why rely on personal data from people who have recently had their identity stolen? Why stoop to those means? Is it possible that something a little more sinister is going on?
    I guess that is the million dollar question and one that I’m still looking to get answered.

    So I brought this up with James Svoboda, our Director of Search to see what his thoughts were. Here is his response:

    “My Working Theory is that various AdSense Partners are likely creating these “Low Quality” fraudulent leads in order to make Display Network Advertisers think their sites actually produce valid clicks. These fake conversions could lead advertisers to believe that the traffic is good, that they should continue to advertise on the sites and not add them to their list of excluded sites. By fooling AdWords campaign managers, they could also inflate the perceived perception of the value of their traffic, causing their sites to be actively targeted by more advertisers, inflating competition and raising CPC bids.”

    Ok, so we are on the same page with our theory and I now had a solid “person of interest”, but needed to do some additional research in order to find out more about and before I began throwing out any type of allegations.

    Define: Lead Fraud – “A 94% Conversion Rate”

    Definition of Pay Per Click Lead FraudFirst off, let’s take a look at the traffic we received from these two sites in September. sent us a total of 4 visitors, with all 4 converting into leads. sent us a total of 12 visitors, with 11 of them converting into leads. Combined that a conversion rate of 94%!

    I don’t know about you, but typically when we can convert 5 to 10 % of our traffic into leads, we feel as if we are doing a damn good job. 94% is unheard of. This immediately puts all of the traffic provided into the questionable category.

    Who’s the Man Behind the Curtain?

    So now let’s see what we can find out about the people behind these two sites (a big thank you to James for doing much of the leg work on this part of the investigation).

    Here is a copy of the Digital Point Forum Thread:

    —— Full Forum Post ——
    Sep 15th 2010 10:17 am
    Cheap Adsense Safe Traffic Guarantee That U Will Earn At Least Double What U Paid For
    Hello DP members ,
    We re offering the traffic service at very cheap price all re REAL ADSENSE SAFE visitors traffic pop unders , Clicked traffic from our sites ( we guarantee cheapest and real traffic ! ADSENSE SAFE ! We guarantee that You Adsense account will make minimum double what you paid for , if not we will make refund ! )
    Package 1: This Package is for 9900-150000 international visitors in daily for 7 days ! (About 14500+ unique international ip and 30000+ page view per day).For total of about 100 000 visitors a week this package is ONLY : 100 Usd weekly ( U can use option daily payment : pay per day for 15 usd / day )
    2 Package : This Package is for 25 000 – 50 000 unique international visitors daily for 7 days ! (About 30000+ unique international ip and 45000+ page views per day).For total of about 300 000 visitors a week this package is ONLY : 210 Usd weekly ( U can use option daily payment : pay per day for 30 usd / day )
    3 Package : This Package is for 50 000 – 80 000 unique international visitors daily for 7 days ! (About 50 000 + unique international ip and 100000+ page views per day).For total of about 700 000 visitors a week this package is ONLY : 300 Usd weekly ( U can use option daily payment : pay per day for 43 usd / day )
    The visit traffic comes from real visitors who visit your website or ads.Visitors will stay in your site for at least 30 seconds. Traffic comes from pop-unders cliked banner or direct visits.Visit traffic is useful in improving your Alex rank and search rank,and of course in bringing interested visitors for your commodities or services.Origin of visit traffic could be set up as required,such as direct trafic to make the traffic to your website real and believable.
    We give very very good discount for long time order u receive 5% off 2 weeks orders , 10% off 3 weeks order , For 1 month order u have to pay for only 28 days and also u will have 10% discount so Total : 3 FREE DAYS + 10% discount for 1 month order ! For longer time pls contact us !
    For questions or order :
    EMAIL :
    PM me here or MSN for direct questions . Thanks
    —— End Forum Post ——

    So it appears as if Ngoc Ha Nguyen is not only the registered owner of, but is also peddling cheap AdSense traffic AND has some type of affiliation to (if not, then why are they listed in his forum post signature thread?) As it is a BlogSpot website we are unable to do a “who is” to determine the owner of the blog, however the Blogger User profile listed is for a Minh Nguyen, who has been on blogger since April of 2010. Hmmm, same last name…is this just a coincidence? I think not.

    Also, as I looked at additional threads posted on Digital Point forums by Angelo (the user name used by, all of them had to do with selling traffic (a good portion of it was adult traffic), trading traffic, or purchasing other AdSense websites.

    So while Mr. Nguyen might not be the only person involved in this, we did have a digital trail connecting him to the sites as well as the selling of “AdSense Safe” traffic.

    Taking Action

    At this point I felt like I had enough information to go to the authorities. Yep, that’s right, I contacted my Google Rep…who then told me to contact the AdWords support team directly, “as those representatives are best equipped to address these types of questions and concerns.”

    So I did. I laid out exactly the evidence I’ve discussed here in this post, showing how we were able to connect Mr. Nguyen and the two websites to these fraudulent leads and how we verified that at least a portion of them were using stolen personal information.

    Google Responds

    Unfortunately, Google’s response was less than helpful, with their biggest suggestion being to “contact the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Affairs division of the city where the company is located”. This is especially not useful as our research shows Mr. Nguyen’s residence to be in France.

    Here is the response from Google:

    Hello Chris,

    Thank you for notifying us of the poor service rendered by one of our Google AdWords advertisers.

    Based on the information provided in your email, I was unable to locate the ad/account in question.In order for us to locate the advertiser in question, please include the following information:

    1. What keyword(s) did you use to find the advertiser?
    2. What is the exact URL of the advertiser’s web site?
    3. Is the ad currently showing on Google? If so, what is the specific ad text?
    4. Were any purchases made from this advertiser? If so, what was the product purchased and what was the cost?
    5. Have you attempted to contact this advertiser? If so, what response did you receive?
    6. Any additional information you feel may help us understand your complaint.

    The information you have provided will assist us in our review of this advertiser’s account.

    Based upon your concern about the conduct of this business, we suggest that you contact the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Affairs division of the city where the company is located, as they will be able to investigate your case and act on your behalf. You can usually find the main business address for the vendor via the ‘Contact Us’ or ‘About Us’ pages of the vendor website. The AdWords program provides a venue for companies to advertise their services. We value customer service and hope our advertisers will provide quality care to our users. However, we are not responsible for nor are we able to monitor the actions of each company.

    Again, we thank you for your feedback, and will review this situation. We encourage you to continue to let us know if there is anything we can do to improve your Google experience.

    Confusion or Plausible Deny-ability?

    Thinking that Preeti from the Google Adwords Team obviously didn’t fully understand or grasp our concerns, I emailed her back, laying out once again much of the evidence. Here are portions of my email:

    My concern, as stated in my initial email, was not in regards to a particular Adwords advertiser, but was in fact an issue with an AdSense publisher, and in particular the and sites.

    Our ads recently appeared on these sites, and the clicks that came from them were fraudulent. In fact, it appears as if these visitors were specifically using stolen personal information to make their clicks seem legitimate…

    I then once again provide the evidence that I’ve written about in this post and concluded with:

    While I understand that click fraud is an issue at times, this seems to go beyond that. I’d consider this to be lead fraud. Our working theory is that various AdSense Partners are likely creating these “Low Quality” fraudulent leads in order to make Content Network Advertisers think their sites actually produce valid clicks. These fake conversions could lead advertisers to believe that the traffic is good, that they should continue to advertise on the sites and not add them to their list of excluded sites. By fooling AdWords campaign managers, they could also inflate the perceived perception of the value of their traffic, causing their sites to be actively targeted by more advertisers, inflating competition and raising CPC bids.

    I am also extremely concerned about the fact that the information listed on many of these leads appear to be from people who recently had their credit card & personal information stolen.

    I appreciate your attention into this and look forward to your reply. If I need to contact someone else, I would ask that you please provide me with their contact information.

    Wagging The Dog?

    Her response (which like the first arrived between 1 and 2 AM, which shows us that Google’s customer service team is not US based or else these poor bastards are working very late hours) still provided little help or even concern in regards to this situation.

    Hello Chris,

    Thank you for writing in again.

    I understand your concern regarding false submissions to your site. Please know that Google is not responsible for user behavior on your website. The users in question may be visiting your site via Google search results or they may have bookmarked your page. Please be assured that you would not be charged for these kinds of visits.

    We’ve also found that many such submissions are generated by automated programs that crawl the web to insert links and keyword pertaining to a website. This is done to increase the popularity or ranking of a site. You can learn more about this method at

    Your site’s web server logs may capture the IP addresses of users who submit forms.

    For a free tutorial on common reasons why you may be unable to see your ad, please visit


    The Google AdWords Team

    Either what we have here is a failure to communicate or lead fraud doesn’t seem to be much of a concern to Google.

    Instead of addressing our worry regarding the fraudulent leads and stolen information, Google instead suggests that these submissions are generated from automated programs, despite the evidence that all of these leads originated from two of their AdSense publishers websites.

    Also, there is no concern regarding the cheap AdSense traffic Mr. Nguyen is promoting, with the sole purpose of the traffic being for the visitors to click on the display network advertisements on the publisher’s websites, which makes money for them and money for Google, all while wasting the advertising budget of the advertisers.

    Contacting Mr. Nguyen

    Personally, I’m not sure which concerned me more. The fact that their customer service representative didn’t appear to grasp what our concern was, or the fact that they just don’t seem to give a damn.
    So with no one else to turn to, my final move was to contact Mr. Nguyen himself. Here is what I wrote:

    Dear Mr. Nguyen,
    Our website recently received 16 visitors through the Google Content Network which originated from your websites: and From this traffic, we received 15 verified leads. 3 of these leads we considered to be low quality or affiliate / multilevel marketing leads.
    The remaining “leads” were classified as spam. However, we identified 9 leads as “lead fraud”, as they pretended to be associated with well-known websites, but the name and phone number listed had no affiliation with the sites. Upon deeper research we discovered that out of the 5 individuals we spoke to, 4 of them recently had their credit card or personal information stolen. These individuals also reported that they were contacted by other SEO agencies.

    While in most cases the owner of a website cannot be responsible for the traffic that comes to their sites, I believe this is not the case in your situation. Upon further research, we have identified several posts in the Digital Point forums looking to sell AdSense safe traffic. These posts utilize the email address (which is registered to you) and contains a link in the footer to

    Mr. Nguyen, while I personally believe what you are doing is unethical by manipulating Internet traffic in an attempt to increase your AdSense revenue, I am well aware that you are only one of many participating in this type of activity. My real concern is where your traffic is originating from, as the leads it has produced are utilizing stolen personal information. This is a serious crime.

    I am planning on forwarding my research to Google AdSense as well as the proper authorities, but wanted to first provide you with an opportunity to explain your side of the story. I am also planning on posting an article on our corporate blog, detailing my findings.

    I hope to hear back from you before deciding on how I will proceed.

    Mr. Nguyen Responds

    Surprisingly, I received a prompt reply:

    Chris Thanks for let me know that , im selling the pop unders from some asia adult and entertainment websites combine with some Adsense safe traffic on Digital Point forums ,plus adengage traffics too so i dont know where this problem come from . This was one of our customers on DP forum , from now on i will stop all the traffic to that site . Please let me know if you have any further questions . Best regards

    His Story Doesn’t Add Up

    Obviously, this response didn’t tie up all of the loose ends or explain the real connection between the sites. I went back to the Digital Point forum and noticed that the footer link to the site had been removed. I also did another who is search and found that the name of the registrant for had been changed from Ngoc Ha Nguyen to Vu Manh Nguyen.

    It looks as if my original email was enough to get Mr. Nguyen to try and distance himself from this situation.

    I addressed these new concerns in the following email:

    I appreciate your response and candor regarding my previous email, but there are a few items that don’t appear to add up.

    First off, if the site was just a customer of yours, why did you have a link to that website in your forum thread footer? I’ve noticed that this has now been removed sometime after you received my original email.

    Also, while the majority of the fraudulent leads that utilized stolen personal information came from the website, several of them also originated from the website. The site was registered to Ngoc Ha Nguyen when we first began our investigation, but now is registered to Vu Manh Nguyen. Ngoc Ha Nguyen is also the registrant for the site, to which we sent this email, and who I assume I speaking with currently.

    To be perfectly honest, it appears to me as if you are attempting to cover your tracks, unless I am somehow misinterpreting the reasoning behind changing the registration on the site and the removal of the link to the blogspot site from your forum signature.

    Care to respond?

    Mr. Nguyen Plays Tag: “Not It”

    And he did with the following:

    Seo marketing blog site is 1 of my customer , as i said the traffic come from many sources such as adengage traffic , some entertainments sites , and adsense traffic on DP , im not sure how can your site receive that much spam traffic ?? 🙁 the customer was long time customer and he was nice so when he asked me to add the link to my DP footer so i did do that after your email of course as i said i removed that blog from the pop unders on our sites and remove the link on footer . We re currently selling Dedicated Server and Hosting , i have to ask 1 of our admin about worldtool but that site is nt our site . I will let you know later , if u have any other questions just email back . Regards

    As of the posting of this article, we have not heard back again from Mr. Nguyen. However, the following has taken place…

    You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

    It appears as if Mr. Nguyen is making haste in an effort to distance himself from the sites that generated the fraudulent clicks that lead to the fraudulent leads.

  • The original website for has been taken down and replaced with one about “Viet Nam Porn” and the Whois record for this domain has changed as well.
  •, a website that also displayed AdSense ads for the Publisher account “pub-7355375012544009” was recently taken down.
  • The links in the signature line of the DigitalPoint thread pointing to the “Made-for-AdSense” blogs ( and have been removed.
  • Whois Doesn’t Lie Whois Record from from October 13th, 2010
    Registered to: Ngoc Ha Nguyen of Toulouse, France: Whois Record from 10-13-2010 Whois Record from October 13th, 2010 Whois Historical Record from from September 30th, 2010
    Registered to: Ngoc Ha Nguyen of Toulouse, France: Historical Record from September 30th, 2010 Whois Historical Record from September 30th, 2010 Whois Record from from October 13th, 2010
    *Changed* Registered to: Vu Manh Nguyen of Thai Nguyen, Viatnam: Whois Record from October 13th, 2010 Whois Record from October 13th, 2010 Whois Record from from October 19th, 2010
    *Changed Again* Registered to: Tran V Anh of Ontario, Canada: Whois Record from October 19th, 2010 Whois Record from October 19th, 2010

    If Ngoc Ha Nguyen did not have a part to play in this fraudulent scam, then why did he deny being associated with and why did he change the DNS information on this domain so quickly and remove any mention of himself and his ties to the site?

    WebRanking Targeted: Our Information Is Now Being Used to Generate Fake Leads

    And while we might never have heard back directly from Mr. Nguyen regarding the website or any of our other concerns, we did receive over a dozen phone calls from online colleges, senior citizen mobility product companies and Sears the next day. These companies all had an online form filled out, using our contact information, requesting more information about their products and services.

    And while the frequency of these calls has slowed down, we continue to receive them daily.

    I guess this is the online version of finding a horse head in your bed? Or just extremely childish antics from those manipulating the content network and selling bad traffic in order to make a few bucks.

    Surprised? Not in the least.

    Click Fraud Dead End

    However at this point, I realize that I’m not going to get anywhere and pursuing this “case” further is probably a waste of time, as the obvious perpetrator is already covering his tracks and Google is not willing to take any action against him or his AdSense publisher’s account.

    So how does this investigation end? Well, there is no conviction. There is no smoking gun. There is no Hollywood ending and certainly no restitution. And most importantly there is no answer to the million dollar question of why stolen personal information was utilized for these fraudulent leads.

    But this has taught us to look a little more carefully at where we are investing our advertising dollars. And it sadly reaffirmed to us that when money is involved there are always going to be those looking to take advantage of the system through illegitimate means. And companies that will turn a blind eye when the system is of their own making.

    Our Stance on the Google Display Network

    We have also taken an official stance here at WebRanking regarding the Google Display Network. We will no longer utilize it for ourselves or for our clients at this time for the following reasons:

    • Historically, we have found traffic from the Content Network to be of low quality.
    • The legitimate leads gained through the network have been subpar.
    • Google’s customer service regarding this issue was less than desirable. Extremely concerned with Google’s lack of action regarding the obvious fraud and utilization of stolen information.
    • While doing research, we discovered through Digital Point’s forums that purchasing AdSense traffic in order to increase a publisher’s revenue is a common practice. With website owners making money through AdSense, and with Google’s lack of concern regarding fraudulent traffic, it is hard to trust or quantify the level of legitimate traffic being sent through this network.

    Only You Can Prevent Click Fraud

    Click Forensic’s recent analysis of overall click fraud rates for pay per click advertising reveals that click fraud has increased from 18.6% last quarter (Q2 2010) to 22.3% in the third quarter of this year. This is a great indication that there may be more of these types of PPC scams being initiated by paid search affiliates.

    If you should have any theories, insights or hot tips into the case of the Click Fraud/Lead Fraud/Identity Theft Conundrum, we would love to hear about it in the comments below. I am sure Google would like you to contact them as well.

    If you like this post and want to find others related to it, then follow me on Twitter:

    Like this post? Rate it, Save it, Share it!

    Post Rating: 5.00
    based on 1 rating(s)

    Click a star to rate:
    1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars

    Reader Comments

    • JadedTLC | October 19, 2010

      Don’t stop hounding Google. I didn’t realize that you didn’t have an official rep at Goog. I would get on their phone and keep calling to talk to a live rep who isn’t overseas. Unfortunately, the overseas help have a couple scripts and can’t seem to “get it” when you have an issue that is not on the scripts.

      I worked with Authenticlick several years ago to push for more legit practices through Google. The pay to click and pay to read services are running amok especially in this economical downturn. We must stand vigilant. DM me on twitter for any other help I can offer.

      – A Concerned Netizen

    • Doug | October 19, 2010

      Wow! What an article! You really put a lot of work into this…thanks for taking the time to put it up for us all to learn.

    • Aussiewebmaster | October 19, 2010

      Great article and dedicated research – why amateurs should not use Google Content Network

    • Andy @ FirstFound | October 20, 2010

      Wow. Just. Wow. That’s not good at all. Thanks for doing the digging on this. Hopefully the scam won’t claim too many victims

    • Chris | October 20, 2010

      JadedTLC, thanks for the feedback. I couldn’t agree more about the current economy and how this has led to a noticeable increase in unethical practices in the name of making a few extra bucks.

      We did originally contact a state side Google representative, who then directed us to their online customer service. We will definitely keep Google abreast of the situation and will update this post should we receive any additional response

    • Chris | October 20, 2010

      Doug, Aussie & Andy…thank you for your kind words.

      Hopefully this article sheds a little light on this unethical practice, and lets other content network advertisers know these guys are out there.

    • j | October 20, 2010

      Great article.

      I don’t know if this is of any use but it appears Nguyen is also associated with the following domains:

      GTTT [dot] NET
      clubtuoitre [dot] net
      XEMPORN [dot] COM

    • Aidan | October 20, 2010

      Great article and a great demonstration as to why newbies should opt out of the content network or at least track it separately.

    • Jason | October 21, 2010

      Nice work! Eye-opening. As marketers, we all have to remember our tactics have to produce real dollars eventually. If you are getting leads that convert into real dollars from Google, then keep doing it. If you don’t, then stop and try something else. Simple as that.

    • Steve | November 29, 2010

      Small business owner that just got taken by LOTS of clicks at one AdSense site. Google doesn’t seem to want to do much to pursue it.

      Interesting that if you do any kind of search for AdSense Scam in google you don’t find anything. I found this article using Yahoo – figures.

      Join facebook

    • Boost CTR Best PPC blogs
    • Techipedia Best of 2010

    WebRanking Newsletter

    Sign up to stay up to date on the latest digital marketing news, trends and strategies.

    No thanks I don't to stay up to date

    image descriptionWe started working with WebRanking about 11 years ago and they have been amazing. Read More...
    Joe Geng - Superior Glove


    Or complete the form below

    Subscribe to our Newsletter