Friday, June 16, 2017

A Glimpse into Click Fraud Farm Operations in Foreign Countries

I recently read an article about the click fraud farms that we have discussed at length in our Digital Marketing class at Columbia.  Although the article does not give many details as to the methods that were being used by the hackers, what I found most fascinating was the pictures that accompanied the article from the bust in Thailand.  The hackers had set up walls of stolen cellphones and sim cards and had a massive operation going to enable phony clicks on ads displayed on the Chinese largest messaging app, Wechat.  Myself being a more visual person, I found the pictures to be extremely interesting to see how a relatively technologically unsophisticated farm can operate and cause extensive fraud for unscrupulous ad agencies and ad networks that seek to fulfill promises to clients of increased exposure to their brands through better CTR's.

After reading this article, I decided to search for more information about these click-fraud farms and was surprised to see the number of ads come up in my search for click fraud detection and protection software (8 different companies came up in my top search results).  I did not know the extensiveness of these click fraud farms in developing countries and how easily they operate, most of the times without much secrecy. It seems that the countries with the most click fraud operations are in the countries of Bangladesh, the Filipines, Egypt, Indonesia, Nepal and China.  With easy access to these fraudulent click fraud farms by many internet users, it gives me very little confidence in the number of "likes" that I see for any articles or websites and also very skeptical of CTR results that different ad agencies and networks promote for their services.  I guess its a good thing that I don't work in the field of digital marketing because I would be skeptical about all data that I received about the effectiveness of digital adverts.

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