Some merchants were clicking on ads to exhaust daily ad budgets of competitors.They also found fraudulent clicks on ads in eBay's Partner Network, where they allow partners to send traffic to eBay merchants. Steve O'Brien, vice president of marketing for Click Forensics, calls the move "classic competitor click fraud."
O'Brien declined to describe the extent of the click fraud problem. He did say that by working to filter out low-quality and invalid traffic, Click Forensics will help eBay advertisers on AdCommerce gain higher-quality audiences that can lower fraud rates.
"We process every click for every campaign," O'Brien says. "Our technology looks for patterns of fraud or invalid traffic. That could be as simple as seeing a click from a prior source and we know it's fraudulent, that this click is not human. We recognize it's a bot or a spider, clearly not a person with an intention to buy something."
The application doesn't replace another, according to Alexis Van De Wyer, director of advertising for eBay. "We have spent a lot of time and effort building an internal click filtering system that is the primary mechanism through which we assess click activity," he says. "The Click Forensics deal is only a part of that overall system."
Although Van De Wyer did not explain the remainder of the system, he did say Click Forensics's technology incorporates numerous tracking signals used to improve traffic quality provided to advertisers.
Van De Wyer says measuring success becomes challenging, but there are numerous ways ebay can determine how effective the system is over time. Most signals are found in data trends, both external and internal. Ultimately, satisfaction and participation from advertisers in the AdCommerce program becomes the most important signal indicating success.
Multiple eBay business units will take advantage of Click Forensics technology, including the eBay Partner Network (ePN) and the eBay AdCommerce unit.
AdCommerce is an advertising tool for eBay merchants that helps increase their visibility among eBay buyers by displaying cost-per-click ads to eBay visitors based on keywords or categories.
"Eliminating fraudulent inbound traffic means the advertiser pays less," O'Brien says. "By increasing the conversion rate, you increase the ROI, the return on advertising investment. So, you spend less and make more."
The Click Forensics audience verification platform allows ad networks, advertisers, agencies and publishers to protect themselves against bad online traffic sources, while targeting and delivering traffic sources that are more likely to convert into sales.
The agreement between the two companies includes sharing data, technology licensing and professional services consulting.
The Click Forensics platform measures and analyzes each individual ad visitor, or click, to determine its value and propensity to convert. The platform is also used to block certain types of online traffic that deliver poor ROI, such as botnets and known fraud perpetrators.