Fake traffic is "rotting" the Internet

Traffic is for sale. You can buy "good" traffic and "bad" traffic. But much of it is, as they say, "nonhuman"—and amounts to the normalization of click fraud on an epic scale.

During the interview, ["Boris"] freely admits he buys many of the visitors to his websites. He spends about $50,000 per year buying high-quality traffic … Bloomberg Businessweek asked two traffic-fraud-detection firms to assess recent traffic to MyTopFace; they agreed on the condition that their names not be used. One found that 94 percent of 30,000 visitors were bots; the other put the bot traffic at 74 percent. Boris didn’t dispute the findings or appear at all concerned. “If I can buy some traffic and it gets accepted, why not?” he says. And if advertisers don’t like it, he adds, “they should go buy somewhere else. They want to pay only a little and get a lot of traffic and results. If they want all human traffic, they should go direct to the publisher and pay more.”

The trick appears to be to game the ratios of good (eyeballs bought from Facebook) and bad (botnets bought from dodgy forums) to keep everyone unsure.

If God's up there, he just loves it. Typhoid and swans, it all comes from the same place.

Notable Replies

  1. The Internet is a strange place. I use it to sell my real products. I depend entirely on people being interested in my products and telling others about them, resulting in high Google rankings, all based on real traffic. It seems to work very well. (It helps that I have a famous, unpaid salesman.)

    On the other hand, if you want to make money by wasting peoples' time, then fake traffic is useful.

  2. Apparently the ones getting fleeced here, though, are the ones buying ads. The publishers don't care, they are getting paid and don't worry about petty details. But if you're advertising for your site, then you are right in avoiding most of these ad networks.

    This is why Google AdWords was able to become such a powerhouse, since they are big enough they don't need to fake traffic. And all others ad purchasers need to reconsider why they are paying per impression or per click instead of per conversion.

    edit: corrected a typo

  3. I tried using PageUp and PageDown real fast to see if there's an upper limit. Apparently there is. Bummer, I was hoping to crash something.

  4. I disagree. I think typhoid comes from the showroom floor, and swans are sold out of His Son's hatchback behind the 7-Eleven. Cygnus is nothing but failed dead-end typhus in the cosmological market of biology.

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