cVanci Associates

Products Internet marketing products Proxies  Internet marketing products Home  Internet marketing products Links            Articles

Clicking Agent - A curse or myth for advertisers?

Clicking Agent has no doubt created a storm with the ability to simulate clicks on adverts within web site pages using proxies. It does so in a very clever way.

We downloaded a free copy of clicking agent and installed it on our testing computer. Anything of such dubious nature should always be initially regarded as suspect, so we use a spare computer connected to its own IP and firewall.
Though a search across the internet for things like 'clicking agent complaints' and 'clicking agent spam' etc etc, gave no negative feedback, no matter how many pages deep.

A couple of points about clicking agent. If you are on a wireless or other home network, it probably will not work unless you can access the routers main page at 192.168.1.1 (The user by default is blank and the password is admin), to alter the security settings. Clicking Agent was initially designed with dial up or direct modem connection to the internet in mind. We can confirm that Clicking Agent programme and there web site is spy and nasty bug free.

The first thing to do is select all the proxies that come with Clicking Agent and delete them all. The proxy list is old and most proxies are no longer valid.
We went to places like checkedproxylists.com and cgiproxylist.com and found lots of proxy lists, and just pasted a few of the proxy lists into a text file. We then imported that proxy list into Clicking Agent. Using the features in Clicking Agent we then cleaned up the list by right clicking on the list and selecting 'Check proxies' The entire operation was quite simple and fast on our selection of just 200 proxies. Bear in mind though, checking lists with around 25,000 or more proxies will take all day!

Translate this article:

By the time we had played around with the various features in Clicking Agent and overcome the frustration of a reasonably mild learning curve, I was starting to realise how this very clever and simple to use piece of software could be a threat in experienced hands.

To simulate the possibilities of using Clicking Agent for dishonest means. We set up one of our domains as the 'referring site' and put a link to the 'target site' (another domain) on its index page.
The target site had a link on the index page to an image on our server.
This would simulate Clicking Agent visiting a given website page, clicking on a link to an advertiser and then going to that page. The owner of the website in question being the wrongful gainer of many false clicks and resulting income. Bearing in mind that Clicking Agent has advanced features that allow pre set actions such as form filling, performing addition analysis and clicks on the landing page, selective url filtering and much more. It was starting to look like 'death by annihilation' to the PPC and PPA advertising industry.

The truth is, that in certain hands, Clicking Agent can do exactly what it says on the box.
Fortunately though, the advertising industry is acceptably safe from being devoured alive by millions of false clicks by old grannies to young students making their few measly dollars a day.
Why?
Well, a load of visitors unique or otherwise from China, India, Russia or Panama etc; is going to look very suspicious on tracking logs. Especially if your site is about the frogs of Arizona and only gets a few hits per day anyway! Too many of them and your account is finished.
Big scamming operators are easily caught as most of them use sweat shops in the far east on dubious servers with IP headers that are forged or through non transparent gateways.

Programme's like Clicking Agent do however pose a threat in the hands of more determined and experienced. While making a fortune may be short lived due to the many tracking safeguards used by advertisers, those in the know could use Clicking Agent and proxy programs like it to generate false clicks on a smaller scale. When you consider that online advertising will produce around 15 Billion dollars this year (10 billion dollars from the big G alone!) Even a tiny percentage of that could amount to considerable money. The ad industry looses around 15% to bad clicks as confirmed by Google and other providers, so around 2 billion dollars was made last year by fraudulent or invalid clicks. Providing this stays at an acceptable level in the ad industry, it will be built in to profits and absorbed as an acceptable loss. All companies use a formulae where there comes a point at which, pursuing further checking is more costly than the amount saved. When you consider the enormity of clicks produced at a few cents each to produce billions in revenue, you may realise that processing power and time are limited when checking validity.

However, advertisers are safe again as the limitation of programme's like Clicking Agent, is a supply of good proxy IP's.

The problem with all proxy disguised clicks is the constantly changing nature of proxies. Clicking Agent can import proxy lists and clean them, giving the facility to filter out countries and proxy types. But getting up to date proxy lists is not easy and bear in mind that while a proxy may be good and active today, tomorrow or in an hours time, it could disappear or end up on a banned list by tracking companies like showmyip.com. So any clicks generated on that IP address will immediately be flagged as suspect.
The experienced click fraudsters can use techniques to overcome this, with automated server side scripts that constantly find new proxy IP's and feed them to clicking scripts on a daily bases. This is a mammoth operation as due to the sheer number of IP address combinations, to check all current IP combinations for useful proxies would take around 300 years! Therefore they tend to check within narrow IP ranges or countries where anonymous proxies are more prevalent. Which in itself makes spotting them quite easy by standard tracking analysis software.

Or, they join an elite site providing paid for daily lists of fresh proxy IP's. While these lists are quite useful to hackers or mounting junk mail campaigns, etc. Fortunately, they have little value for generating false clicks as most of these proxy servers are in places like Russia and China. The makers of Clicking Agent even have a utility ProXYZ, software that will search for and verify proxy servers either by IP range or from proxy list sites on the Internet.
A dedicated cheater would need to find fresh IP's virtually hourly to stay one step ahead of tracking agents. They would also need to have a few sites to spread clicks over a wide footprint and, the sites would need to be Internet visible and get many genuine visitors. All this entails much work and as we all know, easy money scams are usually carried out by inherently lazy people. So once again, natural statistics comes to the rescue of the PPC and PPA advertising industry.

The Clicking Agent site has a few pages of advice on clicking matters, which provides an easy 'get started' guide for novices and how to cheat the system. I quote:-

"First off, it is very hard to detect cheating by just looking at the HTTP headers that the program sends or by implementing JavaScript protection in the banner code. These methods of protection can be overcome programmatically and as the program becomes more powerful with every new version, the harder it is for ad companies to fight it. The program simulates most popular browsers, operating systems, languages, correctly processes cookies, java scripts (most of them) and what not. Most of those settings are customisable and it is easy for the program user to set it up to current Internet statistics. So the only possible way to detect cheating is by tracking the visits made from public proxy servers. That is, the ad company must keep a list of currently accessible public proxy servers. Then the IP of every incoming HTTP request is compared against this list. If the percent of requests made via public proxies exceeds some ad companies defined value (say 20%) then the webmaster is considered to be cheating."

 

In summary therefore, Clicking Agent itself works. The weakness is as always, a supply of good proxy IP addresses. If you believe the hype about getting rich quick from using Clicking Agent and start using it for that purpose, you WILL be caught. If however you fall within the small virtually impossible to detect 'click cheaters' category who are already using sophisticated scripting to perpetrate their deeds, then something like Clicking Agent or ProXYZ could provide a valuable addition to their arsenal.

But wait. If you possess the ability to do all this, you also possess the ability to take the sites you are using and promote them across the Internet to top position on all search engines and make an HONEST fortune from affiliate advertising with Commission Junction and blue chip advertisers!

If you want to know more about how to do that, read some of our other articles at http://www.cvanci.com/articles.html

If you are a webmaster or site owner and concerned over security, we suggest updating your servers list of banned proxy IP's by subscribing to our daily 'black list' of currently working elite anonymous proxy IP's. These are commonly used for server attacks and hacking. You can see an example at http://www.cvanci.com/proxies/proxies.html

References:

Clicking Agent
http://www.clickingagent.com

All about proxies
http://www.freeproxy.ru/en/free_proxy/faq/index.htm

WEBMASTER TOOLS:

Build a commercial Web site in MINUTES!!

Our FREE software will build you a money earning website in minutes!!
Home

Power Linking - Complete course.
Home

Free website templates and more...
Home

 
 

Copyright ©2004 - 2016 cVanci Associates  —  Richmond Surrey TW94JH The Internet marketing professionals