Fake Traffic

You probably have read about fake Twitter followers.  Most people have some (1% of mine are), famous people have lots (Justin Bieber has 14%).  You can check out the fake or inactive counts at Status People.  Obviously I haven’t gone out to acquire fake followers but like every part of the interwebs, Twitter has its share of  spammers and other flavors of cretin and they leach on to legitimate folks all the time.

That’s very different from folks who create fake accounts to add to their follower totals and very far removed from folks who go out and buy followers.  I suppose that the quantity of an audience is important to some people who market themselves based on their Twitter base or Klout score.  It’s been interesting as I pitch new business to have potential clients ask about that and how their minds change a bit after they understand how the system can be gamed.  Caveat Emptor if you’re hiring based on that and not on business acumen – it’s much harder to buy!

One way a system is gamed that I find really disturbing is the sale of web traffic.  No, I don’t mean impressions being sold to advertisers as ad space but the sale of bulk traffic to websites looking to increase their numbers.  There are a number of firms – I’m not going to plug them here – who will generate visits to your website for a fee.  Need 100,000 visits quickly?  $250 will get them for you.  Obviously for sites that sell based on rate bases or on impression guarantees, this is a form of fraud.

How do they do this?  Some companies use bots – automated scripts.  Others pay people to do nothing but click on the list of pages they’re given.  Still others push pop-unders which display the purchasing site when a user hits some other site the vendor controls.  Others use redirects from abandoned domains.  Pretty questionable stuff.

I’m told that some rather prominent sites use these firms near the end of a month when their traffic is kind of light.  I sure hope not.  This is exactly the kind of thing that will set back digital advertising 10 years just as it’s getting a fair amount of traction.  I can’t imagine what these folks are thinking.  Like the lightweight consultants who buy followers and game the reputation system, once this found out, those same systems will be used to spread the word about their duplicity.  Skeevy, right?

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Filed under digital media, Thinking Aloud

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