There is a standard joke around online advertising managers about the fear of those „chinese villages“ taking over one of your ad campaigns so that you receive the clicks you paid for, only all of them come from one and the same family (in China or India, or Eastern Europe or Antigua, etc. it doesn’t really matter).
But you don’t need to go very far away. Your next door neighbor might be part of a „click farm“. Even though he most likely never realised what he got himself into.
Just the other day I took a look at a site called OnlineTVRecorder.com (don’t want to give them any link credit). On that site you can record TV programms of any German TV Channel – most of which I wouldn’t even be able to access in this area of the country. You first record them, and then download and decode them. But you can only decode those that you „recorded“ in advance. This makes it similar to any VCR/DVD recorder and hence (I guess) a legal way of recording shows via the web.
So far so good. However, the system only works for you, when you pay per download with so called „good will points“. If you haven’t got enough points, you can’t download or decode any files.
And how do you get these points? There are two ways. Either you donate money, or you click on some of their ads. Yes, that’s right: you can click on the ads to receive good will points! You get points for clicks that advertisers pay a lot of money for (on aggregate).
I guess most users on this site aren’t fully aware of the fact that each of their clicks contributes to ripping of advertisers. Note: I am not saying „poor advertisers“ here! I am just saying that advertisers don’t get what they pay for when they signed the contract with these mediasites: intentional attention.
Clickworking is an interesting and positive trend, since it uses the minimal individual productivity of large crowds to achieve a large complex goal.
Clickfarming seems to be a dark side equivalent. Utilize the small contributions of a large crowd’s individuals who might not even (want to) realize that their few clicks are contributing to a large system of fraud.
I wonder how many other sites of this kind are out there? How much dubious content is paid for in this way? How many advertising campaigns bought on a pay-per-click basis have been corrupted by clickfarms like these?
If I was an advertiser and I saw one of my banners on one of those sites, I would ask my media agency or the publisher for my money back. And may be sue them.