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The Internet The Almighty Buck

India's Secret Army Of Online Ad 'Clickers' 297

TI-99/4A's RULE writes "Just when I thought I'd heard everything, I just read that, according to The Times of India, there are hordes of people in India clicking pay per click ads for a share of the CPC earnings. Have we gone back to the dotcom boom days again where people are tossing money away on stuff like this? Or is this just a temporary blip, with paid-per action sites like CurrentCodes representing more of a norm in online marketing?"
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India's Secret Army Of Online Ad 'Clickers'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:47PM (#9043878)
    I had to hire my Ad-Clicking replacement today!
  • by erick99 ( 743982 ) * <homerun@gmail.com> on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:47PM (#9043881)
    After a hard day of handling Dell's support calls or writing code for a Fortune 500 firm, the ever- intrepid worker from India troops home to click on overseas (read:American) ads for just a few more bucks before heading off to bed...

    Happy Trails!


  • Outsourced? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gadzuko ( 712568 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:47PM (#9043888)
    Now where in America did those jobs come from?
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:47PM (#9043889) Journal
    If they aren't smart enough to write a little script to do it for them, I'm less worried about my job being offshored.
    • In India... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Camel Pilot ( 78781 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:51PM (#9043928) Homepage Journal
      Perhaps in India people are cheaper than a script sufficeintly sophisticated to slip thru the "Click Protection" of PPC advertisers.

      Mind you Overtures' Click Protection [perlworks.com] leaves a lot to desired.
      • Re:In India... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by kevlar ( 13509 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:59PM (#9044032)
        Thats just a silly statement. "Click Protection" is merely a matter of throwing away cookies and sessions and changing the User-Agent string to be a valid browser.

        All those things you can do with wget.

        I think they're probably doing this for legal reaons since they are real-life humans clicking on each link... so that they don't get sued or brought up on fraud charges for "enhancing" their click count.
        • Re:In India... (Score:3, Informative)

          by shird ( 566377 )
          They also do a lookup to see if it is a known proxy, plus some 'smart' detection to see if its a proxy. Plus they check trends and all sorts of other stuff to try detect abuse. Otherwise, they would all be out of businesss.

          Its quite difficult to get lots of unique IP address to register a click from. (without open proxies). But yeah, a script running from many different IPs would be the same as a person 'running' from many different IPs. But perhaps they use people cause that way they can actually 'hire' i
    • by The Lynxpro ( 657990 ) <lynxpro@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:58PM (#9044027)
      "If they aren't smart enough to write a little script to do it for them, I'm less worried about my job being offshored."

      Did you consider it might be cheaper to hire people to click the ads than to contract a company to write such a script? Its kinda like how the American military often threw up their arms after destroying various Vietnamese infrastructure during that conflict. They'd blow up a bridge, only to find it reconstructed a few days labor thanks to what the Pentagon defined as "ant labor." The Western business-minded viewpoint would factor in contracts, heavy industry, materials, and all the like into costs, whereas a more simple society would just get a ton of unskilled workers out there to assemble the project (instead of relying on earth moving equipment). Or maybe a better example would be the Minnonites and the Amish in terms of barn raisings.

      • Did you consider it might be cheaper to hire people to click the ads than to contract a company to write such a script

        I had a similar experience recently that made me aware of my Western ideas about labor. My company was in the process of building a new plant in China (for goods to be delivered in China only, no exports). Several IT people went over to help them get their infrastructure setup. There was a large safe in the area that was to become the datacenter. The safe needed to be taken out of th

      • by milo_Gwalthny ( 203233 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:49PM (#9044645)
        When I was in India (admittedly, 10 years ago) there were people crouching in the middle of the street painting the yellow lines. Scared the hell out of me, considering how my taxi driver was driving.

        I guess it was cheaper than buying a truck with a paint brush attached.
    • by dcrocha ( 776603 ) <daniel.rawsocket@org> on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:15PM (#9044223) Homepage
      Back in 2000, a friend of mine used to leave his computer turned on 24/7 with that stupid AllAdvantages software showing up lots of ads. He expected to make hundreds of dollars, as advertised.

      After 4 months of extreme adclicking, he received a U$35,00 and was not very happy about the amount, but decided to cash it anyway. We are from Brazil, so when we need to cache a check from US, we need to go to Citibank. There, they charged him U$70,00 to cash the check. I had the biggest laugh of my life and he thought about a lawsuit AllAdvantages, but I told him that the lawyers would charge him a lot more than the money he wanted to receive.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:48PM (#9043890)
    It reminds me of a 1990s-era site called FreeRide which awarded "points" that were redeemable for prizes for visiting sponsor sites. It was even to the point that you could earn points for searching Google and other search engines, as they were even willing to pay per click back then.

    Somehow, I don't think this is going to last very long. Anybody who's working on a Pay-Per-Click basis without a way to shut this kind of "unqualified lead" down is going to get wiped out very quickly...
    • Somehow, I don't think this is going to last very long. Anybody who's working on a Pay-Per-Click basis without a way to shut this kind of "unqualified lead" down is going to get wiped out very quickly

      They need to IP ban/blackhole India. Not only do they stop the fake clicking, but they bring back all the other jobs that were lost.

      hey, I should get a patent on this.
  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:48PM (#9043891) Homepage Journal

    Why, type in 'earn rupees clicking ads' in Google? you get 25,000 results.

    Swell, even AllAdvantage.com is outsourcing.

    Yeah, I know their gone
  • by stecoop ( 759508 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:48PM (#9043892) Journal
    Anyone have a Perl script to generate click throughs automatically - parse a set of pages of know web page add payers and generate hits while I'm sleeping? If so post it here and I'll split the profits with you. :-]

    After that you'll need to gather a pool of developers on sourceforge for any would be counter measures that could be used by the click thorough payers. And who said that America is loosing its scientific talent [slashdot.org].
    • Anyone have a Perl script to generate click throughs automatically


      while (1) {

      my $a = int rand (255) + 1;
      my $b = int rand (255) + 1;
      my $c = int rand (255) + 1;
      my $d = int rand (255) + 1;
      `wget --referer-url=$a.$b.$c.$d http://whoever.com/ads`;

      • No. This will set the referrer to a random IP, which is not at all what you want. You want the referrer to be a constant (since they're the one who gets paid), and the originating IP to change. This is probably possible by spoofing the from address in the packets, as long as the ad server doesn't notice that you're closing the connection as soon as it sends you any data (since you will not actually have a connected socket on the other end).
      • start with

        function log_adview ($bannerID, $clientID)
        global $phpAds_log_adviews;
        global $phpAds_tbl_banners;
        global $phpAds_random_retrieve;
        global $phpAds_zone_used;

        // If sequential banner retrieval is used, set banner as "used"
        if ($phpAds_random_retrieve > 0 && $phpAds_zone_used != true)
        @db_query("UPDATE $phpAds_tbl_banners SET seq=seq-1 WHERE bannerID='$bannerID'");


        // Check if host is on list of hosts to ignore

  • Conversions (Score:2, Insightful)

    It's all about conversions. Bad CTR to conversion ratios will be noticed and addressed. Anyone who advertises online and does not monitor such stats is foolish.
    • Re:Conversions (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cmacb ( 547347 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:30PM (#9044372) Homepage Journal

      Funny how this follows on so close to the article about the BBC on-demand video experiment. The issue is the same, people are trying to impose old, outdated print media advertising concepts onto the Internet.

      Click-throughs are (IMHO) a better measure of ad effectiveness than are the magazine subscription numbers (or Neilson ratings) by a long shot, but click-throughs are not perfect. What *IS* perfect is to measure how many people actually BUY the product being advertised.

      This is conceptually quite easy to do. With each ad needs to come some sort of incentive, either to buy the product right now, while viewing the ad, or some sort of unique coupon number than will (for example) entitle the bearer to a discount when buying the product later. Even the print and TV advertisers figured this one out years ago. The Internet makes it much easier.

      Stop measuring click-throughs and start measuring buy-throughs.
  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Illuminati Member ( 541846 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:49PM (#9043904)
    When I thought I was onto something I find my job is, once again, outsourced to India!!!
    Perhaps I should work on plan B, clicking spam links to boost spammers confidence.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:50PM (#9043913)
    When even punching the monkey gets outsourced.
    • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <.ardrake79. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:11PM (#9044187) Homepage
      Let's not be hasty here.

      I for one know that 'punching the monkey' is still very much a domestic function performed at the goldspider household.

    • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:15PM (#9044224)
      There's this place down the road from me, I hear, where you can outsource punching the monkey.

      Oh wait, you said punching. Nevermind.
    • by bl8n8r ( 649187 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:27PM (#9044346)
      > When even punching the monkey gets outsourced.

      It aint sad yet - wait till they outsource spanking it too.
    • Re:Its a sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fez ( 468752 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:55PM (#9044725)
      I earned about $250 worth of certificates from FreeRide.com, most of which were Amazon or CDNow certificates. Pretty much everyone in my office did it, we were that bored. It was how we started each morning.

      Of course toward the end it got worse and worse, but they never did fix some security 'problems' that would let you get multiple clicks per ad. The system was setup to only allow you ~10 ad clicks per day in the main section, but depending on how fast a person could click, you could get from 2-50 + clicks registered off the right banners, preferably 10-point ones. You could get a $20 cert in a matter of days.

      Of course that's probably why they went under... I still don't get how they really made money in the first place. I doubt they ever turned anything resembling a profit.

      /Still wishing I hadn't used my real e-mail address to sign up for FreeRide...
  • Ever buy the Sunday paper? First thing you do is dump the 8 pounds of glossy color ads in the nearest garbage can. Everyone knows this, but the advertisers still line up every week to pay for their ads to end up in a landfill.

    The same is true with internet ads...They have to pay by click or view or something. There isn't any way around it, that's how all adds are sold.

    At least we've finally outsourced a crappy job.
  • Ethics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gcaseye6677 ( 694805 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:51PM (#9043929)
    An Indian advertising executive quoted in the article feels that this practice of making a lot of money clicking on ads is unethical. Why? The people are being paid to do exactly what they are doing. The ones interviewed for this article were not using any kind of script or other automated click simulator. This is the downside of massive, untargeted advertising. You never know who you're going to reach or if your message is the slightest bit effective.
  • by tcopeland ( 32225 ) * <tom@NosPam.thomasleecopeland.com> on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:52PM (#9043944) Homepage
    Lisa: Shouldn't you be working?
    Homer: I've got someone to cover for me.
    [Camera shows drinking bird repeatedly pressing 'Y' on the keyboard.]
    Thanks to SNPP [snpp.com].
  • by Ra5pu7in ( 603513 ) <ra5pu7in@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:52PM (#9043950) Journal
    Advertisers? Definitely won't last long. Marketing loves to spend money on new ideas, but any business that lets them run amok without any cost to results will go bankrupt.

    I wonder if this click-happy group also clicks on virus-laden emails. To me, that would be far more frightening -- hundreds of thousands of infected machines in India pouring spam through a multitude of ISPs. Yuck.
  • Current Codes? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by guinsu ( 198732 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:53PM (#9043954)
    WTF does that have to do with your story? Sounds like someone just wanted to drive extra traffic to their deal site with an unrelated link in the story.
  • by happyfrogcow ( 708359 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:54PM (#9043964)
    will be to move this pile of rocks to that corner of the room. When you are done, report to me for your next assignment which will involve one of the other three corners of the room, and a similar pile of rocks. at the end of the day, report how many piles of rocks you set up, and how many piles of rocks you moved.

    Stupid Interweb.
  • This is going to put every bored "home-maker" out of work... oh right..
  • So 90 (Score:4, Funny)

    by hermeshome.se ( 233303 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:57PM (#9044004) Homepage
    The 90's called, they want their clicks back.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Seems relevant [urbandictionary.com]
  • by flashbang ( 124262 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:57PM (#9044012)
    I just forward that email from Microsoft and AOL, I'm told that I'll get tons of money very soon.. Silly people actually clicking on ads for money..
  • This could be good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:58PM (#9044017)
    So if people are abusing CPC ads to get more money, that means the advertiser is paying more and getting less real exposure. Theoritically they would see this on thier bottom line.

    If this continues then what exactly happens? I figure 2 possible scenarios:

    1. Do advertisers realize that cost per click just isn't worth it and go to another model?
    2.Do they realize that banner ads aren't an effective medium, and we see a decrease of banner ads instead?
    • that means the advertiser is paying more and getting less real exposure.

      hopefully they are advertisers for products usually sold in spam(large johnson etc.). This should really hurt their bottom line.

  • How silly! (Score:5, Funny)

    by thebra ( 707939 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:58PM (#9044025) Homepage Journal
    I can see it now.. "Well Jim it appears most people interseted in buying *insert product* are from India. Let's focus our advertising there."
  • by ElGuapoGolf ( 600734 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @03:59PM (#9044028) Homepage

    My old company, MarketSource, used to run this website called Ontap.com, which was billed as "the place where college students live online". (Yeah, I know that if you go there now it's a liquor distributor or somesuch, which is actually closer to what college students actually do, but I digress..)

    Anyhow, the management had this notion that they could pay for everything with online advertising. Who wouldn't want to run ads aimed at the very lucrative college crowd? And we were paid per ad impression!

    Of course, the money coming in wasn't as much as was hoped for by management. Trouble was, nobody was visiting the site. So someone came up with the bright idea of refreshing ads every 30 seconds or so. Which also led to the plea from management to "leave your computer on 24/7 with your browser opened to our site". Kinda like using a thimble to bail out the Titanic, but hey....

    This also led to discussion where management would say things like, "We need to make X new feature as complicated as possible... instead of doing it in 3 pages, let's do it in 7 cos then we'll serve more ads".

    The only good thing that ever came out of that site was the fact we sent a famous midget (Verne Troyer) off to some 17 year old girl's prom. I hope he didn't hump her like he did the laser in APII.

  • do the math (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Avishalom ( 648759 )
    Tourists can live pretty good on 10$ (US) per day.
    (and that's when you get ripped off for everything)

    for a local vilaager (forgive PCness, lack of) half that amount is hansome.
    I guess that someday the bottom will drop out.
    but untill that day , some money can change hands from some corporations to some people who truely deserve it (i figure if i were 12, i'd be willing to sit for three hours , opening and closing tabs(firefox) for ~10,000 clicks )
    (I guess these sites can prevent scripts, otherwise we'
  • They should just rent virus infected computers from the mob and set them to click at random intervals. Or maybe that's what they are being used for... besides DDoS that is.

  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:00PM (#9044048) Homepage
    It seems that not only human jobs are outsourced to India, but Perl script jobs as well.

    Next time one of my Perl programs starts giving me problems I'll tell it to behave or it'll get replaced by an Indian worker.

    Seems like the classic "Go away or I'll replace you with a very small shell script" T-shirt now gets a sequel!
  • by bluenote39 ( 766441 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:00PM (#9044050)
    You should be wary of anything Times of India reports. Once a premier newspaper, it has reduced to a tabloid and semi porn website now.

    Case in point, assuming you get paid $0.25 per click as the article reports, that amounts to $180 an hour (assuming you click 1 ad per 5 seconds)!! Thats insane, even by american standards. In India where a average guy gets $300 a month salary, that figure is damn near impossible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:01PM (#9044058)
    I'm putting tiny little electrical generators in each mouse, and generating electricity with each click. One hundred million Indians clicking at the same time should be enough to power Toledo.
  • by DroopyStonx ( 683090 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:04PM (#9044102)
    Used to run a warez FTP in IRC back in the day.

    Had the ol' "To get into my site, visit this URL [url to paying click site] and search for "shampoo". The first word of the second paragraph + the third word of the fouth paragraph of the first item listed is the password to get in."

    I'd rack up like $100 a week for like 2 months. I couldn't believe it worked, but looking back on it, it's unbelievable I never got caught.
  • ohhohoho ! (Score:2, Informative)

    by dindi ( 78034 )
    I use PPC (pay-per-click) advertising to some of my sites/projects, and yes, I hade to waste some hundred $$ before I knwe where to advertise ...

    Lots of PPC companies have affiliate programs and some lowlifes are running "get paid to surf" programs. You have to go to sites, and sign up, or just click the ads and receive a % of the click.

    Also there are the clickbots, which are created to generate hundreds of clicks (and no sales of course) on the competitions's ads, until they give up ads.

    Newver run expen
  • If I took the job, could I sub-contract it to my little brother and just give him a small cut? Then I could sit back and watch the $$$ roll in!
  • Too late (Score:5, Funny)

    by nizo ( 81281 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:07PM (#9044127) Homepage Journal
    I told all you ad-clickers out there to unionize but now it is too late. All you shoe shiners and bootlickers better watch out, or the next thing you know they will be shipping your boss' shoes to India! Unionized now before it is too late!!!
  • by finnhart ( 653695 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:08PM (#9044140)
    Can no one else smell the BS? This is almost as stupid as when Wired's "jargonwatch" claimed that people all over the US were saying "jithead".

    Who is paying 25 cents per click? With programmers at WiPro earning, say, $1000 US per month .. that's just 4,000 clicks, or 150 per day. Right.

    The article's claim that searching for earn rupees clicking ads [google.com] returns 25,000 results is off by a factor of 10.

    And, finally, it's "CPM", not "CPC".
  • "We don't know if it works, but we know we're screwed if we don't do it".
  • by Audacious ( 611811 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:12PM (#9044195) Homepage
    ...those Ad people think their ads really are reaching people.
  • by jetkust ( 596906 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:13PM (#9044197)
    In a quest for more clicks, and to get rid of the middleman, penis enlargement firms begin hiring paid clickers on site.

    Mr. Smith from ManGro Technologies explains, "Since the clicks will be coming directly from our own servers we save on bandwidth, and at the same time oversee the entire clicking process, effectively paying substantially less for each click".

    According to industry estimates, 1 out of 100 clicks is a buy. "Basically Increasing clicks, means increasing business.", Mr. Smith adds, "As well as the size of your penis."
  • 4. Profit$$ (Score:5, Funny)

    by The-Dalai-LLama ( 755919 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:13PM (#9044204) Homepage Journal

    The pay per click ads are just the warm-up.

    What they're really banking on is damages awarded for their carpal tunnel syndrome lawsuits.

    The Dalai LLama
    ...damn, we're outsourcing SCO's gig...

  • We did this when I used to work for a LARGE online ad-delivery company. The company is still around. We did it not because the company asked us to, but we did it just to see what would happen if one browser with 13 iframes were trying to refresh every all each 13 iframes every 5 seconds. :P Needless to say, we had 8 web browsers, each with 13 iframes and all refreshing... it was quite interesting... lol :-)

  • So, what would be so hard about linking the credit card info page with the clicked-from page?
  • by bergeron76 ( 176351 ) * on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:22PM (#9044302)
    Someone should create a distributed client (like SETI@home or something) that sends "clicks" to these places and cuts the person a portion of the payments in the form of micropayments or something.

    As for India doing this en-masse - let them. If they want to enter a dot-com boom like the US/Europe had in the 90's, let them learn the hard way. I think I'll open an investment account in India and I'll buy low and sell high again. This time, however, I'll be sure to bail early on and not ride the wave up to $100/per share stocks for things like furniture.com.

    In this way, they can have my outsourced job, and I can profit from it by being a Day Trader all over again.

    Woo hoo!

  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:26PM (#9044341) Journal
    http://www.thehungersite.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/CT DSites [thehungersite.com]

    I'm sure there are other sites like that too.

    (go here [theanimalrescuesite.com] if you like animals more than people... lol)
  • by ultrasonik ( 775562 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:33PM (#9044400) Homepage
    That's it. Time to take away all of India's computers. All they do is sit around all day trying to make something for nothing on the internet, provide crappy tech support, and pirate Microsoft software and copyrighted music and movies. No wait... that's what I do all day : /
  • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Monday May 03, 2004 @04:54PM (#9044707) Homepage
    isn't the guy who said: "What would happen to the world if all the chinese people step down from a bench at the same time?"

    This should now be read:

    "What would happen to the NYSE and the NASAQ if all the indian people would click the mouse at the same time?"

    Chinese wisdom has been surpassed by Indian wisdom...

  • by gengee ( 124713 ) <gengis@hawaii.rr.com> on Monday May 03, 2004 @05:34PM (#9045183)
    Sites like TicketMaster use captchas -- images of slightly distorted words which are hard for computers to interpret, but simple for humans -- to prevent spammers and bots from using (abusing) their services. I think some blog softwares have these simlple Turing tests built in as well.

    Spammers and bot masters have come up with an incredibly simple solution, though. Pr0n.

    Throw up a website with twenty or thirty thousand high-quality, free pr0n images. The catch? You have to type in the characters or words displayed in a captcha for every 'n' pr0n images.

    Instant, distributed, human captcha OCR. If your pr0n site has heavy enough traffic, you can do this distributed captcha OCR fairly quickly -- sometimes in under a minute.

    Why not do the same thing here. (Referer:? How to track the click @ the pr0n site? (JavaScript (a la WebTrends SDC?))).

    I'm not sure of the details, but I suspect it would work.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.