What About Reverse Click Fraud?


I was reading this article about web companies debating "when a click is a click" and I wondered why no one ever mentions reverse click fraud. What do I mean by that? I think there are advertisers that benefit from online ads that don't have to pay. Let me give you two examples.

First of all, I often search for something and I notice that the top ad is the same as one of the top 3-4 search results. I click on the search result, not the ad. Secondly, in the rare case that I see an ad that captures my attention, I don't click on it. I either type the URL in directly, or I go to a search engine and search for the company. Why? Because in my experience, clicking on ads often takes you to special pages, and I like to start at the homepage. I don't want to be taken to a specific product page. I like to see everything a company makes. I like to poke around and see what else I can find that might be more interesting. The point though, is that in both cases the advertiser benefited from the ad without paying for that benefit – because I didn't click.

Now, maybe I'm just a weirdo, but I think there are probably some other people out there that do this too. Granted, it probably doesn't cancel out the click fraud that supposedly exists in large numbers, but it still is something to consider, and I don't ever read anything about it. Perhaps it is more common than I think, and Google is missing out on lots of money as a result. So I'm curious, does anyone else engage in "reverse click fraud" by acting on ads without clicking on them?

  • I also belong to this club. But my reason is slightly different. I think google is making enough money already. But the advertisers are the smaller guys who need some support.

  • You’re right – a lot of people do this. I know quite a few people who refrain from clicking on text ads and instead click on search results, so (oh, the absurdity) that they won’t cost the advertising company money because they clicked on their ad.

    I, on the other hand, prefer to click on the ads because in many cases clicking on the ads brings you price discounts (GoDaddy.com is such an example).

  • Whenever I start to wonder what something really means I look up the definition. If the definition is being skewed by the proponents of a certain phrase my sensors go up. So look up the definition of the word fraud and you will realize the fraud is being perpetrated by the people claiming “click fraud”

    By the way we are running lots of Pay Per Click ads right now since it is the back to school season and students are busy buying lots of textbooks through our site http://www.directtextbook.com I am happy to report the ads are doing great.

  • Steve

    I think that the majority of educated folks do this – for a variety of reasons. I do it in the interest of the advertiser who has to pay Google.

  • Point of note though, what you are describing is not fraud. It’s a user choice, which is much different than someone cheating the system…

  • Joe

    If I have no intention of buying from a site, I will refrain frm clicking on the text ads. If I do decide to buy from them, I will go back and click through for the afore mentioned benefits (discounts) and to let the advertiser know that their search ad works.