Microsoft Research looks into click-spam issue

A large number of websites depend on revenues received via banner ads, and sites get even more money when its visitors click on an ad banner. However, in recent years, web advertisers have had to deal with "click-spam" scams, where ad banners seem to be targeted. In many cases, the click-throughs have no real interest in seeing the website behind the ad and just want to generate more revenue from the ad banner.

This issue can cost web advertisers millions of dollars without any real benefit to them. Now three researchers have come up with a new way to measure web ad traffic, including those that are a part of a "click-spam" scam.

In a post on the Inside Microsoft Research page, the company talks about the paper, "Measuring and Fingerprinting Click-Spam in Ad Networks." Two of the three people who worked on the paper, Vacha Dave and Saikat Guha, have also worked at Microsoft Research India. Microsoft says that the paper "provides the first independent methodology for advertisers to measure click-spam on their ads—and delivers an automated method for ad networks to detect simultaneous click-spam attacks proactively."

The paper also shows what the researches claim are the poor quality of banner ads made for mobile devices. Guha says, "For a reputed ad network, only one out of 20 people clicking our ad stayed for longer than five seconds. We suspect this is because people mis-clicked the ad due to the small mobile-screen sizes and quickly hit the back button."

Source: Inside Microsoft Research website

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Steam Big Picture TV mode beta coming in early September

Next Story

Windows Media Center for Windows 8 to cost $12.79 for US?

9 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I can't remember which website I was recently on, other wise I was going to give the link. But I went to a legit download site, and when I hit the actual download page, there was a banner on top that had a "BIG" download button, for some reg scanner ****, as well as on the side, and in the middle of the page. I had to carefully look on the page for the "SMALL" link which is what I REALLY wanted to download.

No wonder people get all these reg scanners and PC cleanup tools installed on their machine. They go to download something legit, and when they hit the download page they see a big "DOWNLOAD NOW" button, and they think that's the button they need to click to start their download. The people who create these banners should be taken out back and shot.

warwagon said,
I can't remember which website I was recently on, other wise I was going to give the link. But I went to a legit download site, and when I hit the actual download page, there was a banner on top that had a "BIG" download button, for some reg scanner ****, as well as on the side, and in the middle of the page. I had to carefully look on the page for the "SMALL" link which is what I REALLY wanted to download.

No wonder people get all these reg scanners and PC cleanup tools installed on their machine. They go to download something legit, and when they hit the download page they see a big "DOWNLOAD NOW" button, and they think that's the button they need to click to start their download. The people who create these banners should be taken out back and shot.


You were probably on softpedia. It seems that's how it is there now.

warwagon said,
I can't remember which website I was recently on, other wise I was going to give the link. But I went to a legit download site, and when I hit the actual download page, there was a banner on top that had a "BIG" download button, for some reg scanner ****, as well as on the side, and in the middle of the page. I had to carefully look on the page for the "SMALL" link which is what I REALLY wanted to download.

No wonder people get all these reg scanners and PC cleanup tools installed on their machine. They go to download something legit, and when they hit the download page they see a big "DOWNLOAD NOW" button, and they think that's the button they need to click to start their download. The people who create these banners should be taken out back and shot.


That is the worst. Sometimes there are several download images! I gotta love around and figure out which one is legit.

I got fooled by it a few times hehe, didn't download tho, but clicking the link that is.
These kind of advertisements is why I stick to having popups blocked a 100% UNLESS I use ctrl/ctrl+alt/middlemouse etc. so far it hasn't failed on me once

rfirth said,
Paint.NET is like that. There are at least 3 different "download" buttons on their homepage, and none of them download the product you actually want.

http://www.getpaint.net/

Wow, is that trashy and immoral, or what? I've always been a fan of Paint.Net. The coders must have a gambling or drug problem if they need to stoop this low to get a few cents from accidental clicks here and there. Rock bottom!

rfirth said,
Paint.NET is like that. There are at least 3 different "download" buttons on their homepage, and none of them download the product you actually want.

http://www.getpaint.net/

I checked the site just now. No such "Download" images show up. That's when I noticed the small red "ABP" icon in my Add-on bar.
For the first time I realize how much cleaner a web I am browsing.
Thanks ABP!!

outspoken said,

For the first time I realize how much cleaner a web I am browsing.
Thanks ABP!!

Was going to say the same. These "Download" buttons are one prime reason why I use it. It's really daft that websites allow their users to be distracted from their actual content.

This isn't just click-spam but also clever ads being disguised or posted between content to maximize accidental clicks. A big part of the problem is relevancy and placement of these ads.