It is common for Internet users to make a little money on the side through ads. But, what if this blogger is able to generate more income from solicited clicks? In order to make money from ads, bloggers need their readers to click on one of the various advertisements hosted on their page. Each click generates from around seven cents to two dollars. These earnings are not substantial if you only average 3 clicks per day. To counteract this problem, many bloggers have taken to asking the reader to click on their ads to generate more income. Usually, the blogger offers some form of compensation, such as offering to promote them. These solicited clicks can give a blogger anywhere from a couple of hundreds to a couple of thousands in payment, driving up how much money the advertisers spend to have their ad on your site. The increase in your earnings can rapidly drain a small company’s budget, putting them out of the advertising game within a couple of weeks. Without a source of advertisement, it would be harder for companies to get their name out there and the company’s income might lower as a result. It would be smart for advertisers to make sure that they are paying for ad space on a reputable blog.
Layton, Julia. What is thic click fraud that is costing Google billions? 28 March 2014 <http://computer.howstuffworks.com/click-fraud.htm>.
Mann, Charles C. How Click Fraud Could Swallow The Internet. January 2006. <http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/14.01/fraud.html>.
Student Researcher: Ariella St. Rose, Indian River State College
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College
This all boils down to whether soliciting clicks is a moral issue. Some people think that it often depends on the situation and others do not view it as an ethical problem. Even though it is always important to understand why these bloggers solicit clicks for money, it is arguably morally wrong. These bloggers are essentially lying to these advertisers and driving up their costs for their own personal benefit.
“Click fraud” is a term used to describe clicks that are generated with malicious or fraudulent intent. The most common methods that bloggers use to commit click fraud are manual clicking, click farms (offering incentives for people to manually click their ads), using pay-to-click sites (recruiting more participants), click bots (software used to click ads), and botnets (computers utilized by click bots). Excessive clicks can exhaust a company’s budget. The generation of invalid traffic prevents advertisers from bidding the maximum amount that they could and results in a less competitive auction. It is calculated that less than ten percent of clicks on ads are invalid. The amounts of invalid or suspicious clicks that are identified by companies such as Google amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Not only are individual advertisers affected by click fraud, companies that host ads, such as Google, take a large hit from it as well. Google has faced several lawsuits because of invalid clicks. Ninety-nine percent of Google’s income depends on advertising, and click fraud can have a serious impact if the company’s clients no longer feel safe while using its services. Click fraud costs Google around one billion dollars in lost income every year. In order to fight click fraud, companies, such as Google, use a three-step system. Automated filters look at each occurring click and check for signs of fraud. Signs of fraud usually include time and date patterns and IP address problems. Next, both computers and actual people analyze clicks to ensure their legitimacy. Finally, if an advertiser reports any suspicions regarding click fraud, Google will investigate it. In Google’s ad contract, the company states that they will reimburse theirs clients if they find the complaint to be legitimate. Click fraud can be a difficult thing for an individual advertiser or a small business to detect. In some cases, like an advertising bill rising significantly over a short amount of time, click fraud can be easy to detect. For the more difficult cases, there are companies who dedicate themselves to detecting click fraud. An individual advertiser or small business can hire these companies to track their ads and keep a lookout for suspicious behavior.
One of the biggest complaints against companies like Google is that they do not follow their own contract by fully reimbursing businesses that file legitimate click fraud complaints. Others state that the company is not doing enough to identify fraudulent clicks.
Many advertisers are under the impression that the people who click on theirs ads do so out of their own volition and interest in the product. When bloggers solicit their clicks, they are breaking the trust of the advertiser. They are lying and inflating their own earnings in a deceitful manner. It is easy to write them off as cruel human beings but we must consider the position that some of these people are in. Some people need to make extra money on the side in order to help support their families. A measly seven cents maybe once a day, if they are lucky, is not going to amount to earnings that would be of significant help. That being said, in this world all of our behavior can have a serious impact on the lives of others. Although click solicitation can get people to click on an ad that they would have previously ignored, click fraud is a serious problem that can bankrupt a small business and a large one alike. That’s why it is an unethical practice.