I guess journalism schools should teach it: whenever you're doing a story about anything, take a look and see what's happening on eBay. I didn't do that when I wrote last week's post Click Fraud Worsening?, which noted that a recent study found that more merchants were pulling back on their keyword advertising out of concerns over click fraud. But a Blogging Stocks reader named Joe did take a look around eBay, and what he found is quite remarkable.
See for yourself. Head over to eBay, search for "Adsense clicks", and as of this morning you'll find more than a dozen auctions offering everything from "5 Google Adsense Ads Clicks Hits Each day for 5 Days" (BuyItNow for $1.99) to "1000 Adsense hits clicks website marketing traffic. Adsense clicks delivered within 10 days. Different IP's" (12 bids, up to $31) to "Unique: Guaranteed Unlimited Legal Adsense Clicks - Extremely Simple" ($9.99).
Here's the sales copy, verbatim, for one offer:
We don't deal with worthless hits/clicks. These are real people clicking on your Adsense ads. Real money flowing into your Adsense account.
People are selling on Ebay the " I'll look around your site and click ads " scheme. THIS DOES NOT WORK. You will get banned from Adsense right away. Receiving multiple clicks from the same IP address will get you banned. That's why you should NEVER click on your own ads.
Thus being said, the traffic you will get will be: never from the same person (or IP address) in a 24 hour period.
Now, the only other thing you MUST watch out for YOURSELF is your CTR (click thru ratio). If you win this auction and I bring you 250 clicks, your Click-thru will soar up - Google will then most probably ban you. Bring in a constant flow of traffic to your website. Keep your Click thru rate between 1% and 3%.
Now, I can't guarantee that you will get a certain number of clicks or that you will not get banned. I'm not Google - who knows what they do. However, I have been bringing in clicks and making a steady $1500 a month and haven't gotten banned using this source.
Of course all of these offers may be frauds, but a number of these sellers have very high Feedback Scores. And some go into considerable detail as to their techniques--one fellow apparently uses MySpace as a way to organize his clicksters.
This raises some interesting questions, chief among them: doesn't this violate eBay's listing policy against "encouraging illegal activity"? Or perhaps this is one of those gray areas where eBay chooses to look the other way -- particularly considering that the particular ox being gored here is rapidly turning into their number one competitor.
In any event, it does provide yet one more proof point of the basic law of cyberspace: On the Internet, if it can be abused, it will be abused.