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When CPA networks are finding margins tough, it’s easy to try and rely on software tools that do the work for you. CPA Detective and Scrubkit both have their proponents and detractors, and I have spoken to both of their owners at length about their products. However, blindly implementing them and relying entirely on their default presets can cause issues. (photo by Steve Hall)Thomas Michael Dietzel, CEO and Founder of CPAWAY, recently pointed out on Facebook—in a sponsored post—that he was having leads, delivered by incentive publishers, being accepted because the advertiser was using CPA Detective which was automatically counting incentivized leads as fraud.

When asked about this, Dietzel stated,

“Any network or agency that uses any fraud prevention system to withhold funds from a publisher, that in return they were paid for, should be simply ashamed of themselves.

They should also be ashamed of themselves if they allow their merchants to do the same. If the leads are bad, by all means reverse them, but provide documentation. However, simply saying ‘CPADetective says its bad’ is not a reason for non-payment if you were able to work the lead. This has become a huge factor in this space. It has also become an expense for us, with us having to enable Maxmind on every click that goes through our network with certain agencies, and network at 0.004 on average per click to prevent them from crying fraud due to the several platforms out there that use the same data source as a sole identifier.

The industry has changed positively as a result of awareness, but without education on how to use these tools or read the data, it creates an issue for innocent bystanders. For example any anti-fraud system that gives you thumbs up or thumbs down without a transparent reason is not one you should NOT be using. You need something that is transparent which explains the reason for such speculation. The only one on the market that is transparent—that I’m aware of—is Scrub Kit. They however, much like others, for some, not all, of their data rely on Maxmind though like others out there.”

As Brian McLevis of Scrubkit noted,

“You are correct that incent should have it’s own set of algorithms. This is one of the reasons we stepped away from a ‘set in stone’ default rule set. We allow the user to change their settings to adjust for incent offers and assign settings to incent offers. This allows networks to rid false alarms for incent traffic.”

David Sendroff of CPA Detective added to the discussion by explaining,

“We do not flag an entire source because there’s fraud somewhere in the source. We score each conversion based on a number of criteria and then show an aggregate of the percentage of the total that had a ‘high-risk’ score. We provide plenty of transparency to our clients so they can evaluate the exports to understand what’s happening. It’s up to the clients to use their discretion when deciding what to show their pubs for the chargeback. Also, you should know that we have a 1% false positive rate, which is closely monitored by our data scientists to maintain accuracy.”

Traffic quality is an issue and a continuing concern to all—networks, advertisers, and publishers.

However, it’s not all bad news for publishers. Last week while I was at the Diablo Media offices in Denver, their team explained how they were able to help publishers because CPA Detective helped them keep traffic to advertisers clean, increase payouts, and eliminate bad publishers. I guess it’s all about using the tools—not being one.

NOTE David Sendroff says he will provide a full response tomorrow.

We would love to hear your comments below.

For more performance marketing stories and exclusive content, make sure to like TheMail on Facebook, follow onTwitter, subscribe on YouTube, and sign up for our Email newsletter.

Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands is an online marketing industry veteran, and the founder of TheMail.

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Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands is an online marketing industry veteran, and the founder of TheMail.

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8 thoughts on “CPAWAY’s Thomas Dietzel Rips On Fraud Detection Tools

  1. Murray, you nailed it. Every technology tool has to have a human being managing it to apply considerations that are beyond the scope of the 0s and 1s of the tool.

    Sometimes things appear to be running amok statistically, but there’s a rationale behind it. Data doesn’t mean to lie, but it can be misleading.

    Fraud detection isn’t controversial. And it isn’t rocket surgery. Tools help make it a manageable thing considering scale.

    Networks should have the common sense that when you withhold money, someone is going to be pissed. Make sure you have your evidence ready.

    It’s good to see technologists building tools to help with the issue of fraud. I give the people that recognized the opportunity in the problem a lot of credit for building the tools that have made their way out there. The tools will continue to evolve as the fraud cockroaches adapt.

  2. Murray – Congratulations on the new site. I like your direction.

    As with every new technological advancement, there will be those who use it wisely and those who abuse it for financial gain. At Diablo, we started using fraud monitoring tools in early 2012 and it’s been a huge benefit for every one of our clients – both advertisers and publishers alike. We’re able to quickly identify irregular traffic and lead patterns and make the necessary decisions to mitigate any risk or damage to our clients. When we see something that looks inconsistent we make sure to compare the lead data with our advertisers and verify it’s integrity. Rest assured, our affiliates are always paid if we are paid by the advertisers and frequently we even pay our affiliates when advertisers don’t pay us.

    As a Network, we’re always trying to the right thing for both sides. We understand there can be false positives or even reasons for traffic being fagged as suspect. As long as our affiliates are able to clearly explain why their leads are being flagged, then we are willing to work through any problems.

    I’ve covered this in other forums, but our industry does have an incentive problem where affiliates are paid solely for conversions and that can lead to faulty practices. Software like the one’s being mentioned here are game changers and have had nothing but a positive impact on our business and I believe the industry as a whole. We know that there are affiliates who will refuse working with us because we’re monitoring their traffic, but we can’t let that discourage or efforts. Over the past decade, Affiliates have flooded Networks and Advertisers with fraudulent traffic which has resulted in millions of dollars of loss. All of this is a move in the right direction to clean up the industry and weed out those who can’t follow the rules.

    Ben Smith
    CEO

    Diablo Media, LLC

  3. Although clearly this post is inflammatory and is evoking an issue that is probably not really an issue, I’d like to drop my two cents into this conversation.

    We use CPA Detective today to provide our Advertisers against very clear deceptive and fraudulent practices. But just like having a nuclear missile, you shouldn’t do politicking or business with the crazy ones that possess such a weapon if they don’t use it for good. Would you do business with North Korea knowing they want to get nuclear capability?

    I wouldn’t do business with someone that uses their tools to find a way NOT to pay me. It’s not the technology that determines the business practice, its the human that makes that call. Also, if a network is getting a fraud detection on these types of software, wouldn’t they WANT to know which subid they can cut out so that their traffic is more attractive to Advertisers? Don’t they WANT to get paid only for leads that are legitimate. I mean, there wouldn’t be a network out there upset because that elephant in the room that we don’t want to talk about but we want to get paid for gets exposed….is there?

    I’m sure that incentive traffic acts differently in some cases, and if I were coaching from the bench of an incentive network I’d want to work HAND IN HAND with these fraud detection tools to make sure that they are aware of how that traffic acts. That way, I would be adding to the transparency and safety of our sector of the network, and therefore I’d be helping attract larger budgets into the space.

    I don’t think anyone should get upset that their are tools out there that are trying to clean up the space. We should commend those companies trying to build, buy, and use tools that protect our ultimate consumer – the Advertiser. If the Advertiser’s go away, this entire eco-system goes away.

    By using CPA Detective we have literally reduced the number of fraud leads on one of our insurance campaigns by more than 50%. The company we did this for, ended up winning the quality lead award for 2012 at LeadsCon, and ultimately was purchased by a huge company.

    In the end, work with those companies that have enough expertise and brains to use such a powerful tool, and collaborate with those companies that are trying to protect our domain to make this a better space.

    Chief of Chaos

    *TheMail featured this comment in a new post: The Fraud Detection Debate Rages On With Smarter Chaos’ Matt Frary and CPAWAY’s Thomas Dietzel

    • Matt,
      My issue isn’t the tool or that tools exists. We have similar tools in place. My issue is any advertiser and/or network that uses tools as a sole reason for not paying as you noted with your North Korea analogy. We just want the tools to educate their customers to use human common sense when reading reports.


      Since my post, it seems that some tools allow human common sense to be used (being transparent with data points and reasons) and others give a blind thumbs up and thumbs down. Human intervention is the key and replying on a program doesn’t always work, no mater what they claim.

      Even with incentive traffic there is good and bad. When we receive a report saying anything is bad, we look at the flow of the offer and data points we have captured (the same that all other programs capture, if not more as we service the click). If the flow of the offer didn’t back out, that is not something we can control when you accept this type of traffic. If it didn’t back out due to true fraud, then we will review it and ask for documentation. The PRIMARY point of my post and response here is: “Don’t tell us Because “INSERT SOFTWARE NAME” told us so” as the reason. We need to know specifics. This goes back to your analogy, too many people are using these tools as a reason not to pay, when they are getting paid and/or have been able to use the data with no problem, and furthermore their merchants haven’t even complained to them.

      A prime example of it is, and one that triggered my outcry on Facebook is someone we worked with for 6 months, never an issue, always asking for more, no traffic pattern has changed and/or sources. They implemented CPADectective, and then sends a huge reversal file to us stating, they are resulting in a high risk score and they don’t want to pay as a result of such.

      When we asked for data and reviewed all the points on our side, it looks fine to us and that their coreg path on the back end simply didn’t back out for them this month… which as a result they lost money instead of profiting….

      We review every IP that comes in for proxies in real time on the click and so forth. We can’t stop friendly fraud, but we can stop the bulk of the hard core true fraud in real time. We compare patterns of traffic, a couple examples include:
      1) if 100% of the traffic is coming from one ISP it is a concern.
      2) if 50% of the leads are coming from a Linux Operating System, its a concern when normal is always under a couple percent.
      3) Browser Language on all leads isn’t EN when its a US offer

      Concerns like that the above are TRUE fraud and not friendly fraud. We are capturing EVERY possible data point on every click that comes in for this simple reason, so we can compare the data.

      In regards to PR approach one company took:
      If you claim your product is perfect, you are absolutely fooling yourself and your customers. We like everyone else, are very good at catching the bad apples… do we catch them all no. Do we have false positives, that require human intervention to read the reports? Yes!

      My point to everything is: USE COMMON SENSE, REVIEW THE DATA. If you do not know what the data means, perhaps reach out to someone in this space you can trust that KNOWS what the data points are and what to look for. Don’t rely on a blind thumbs up or a blind thumbs down. If you don’t have the ability to ask, perhaps impliment both ScrubKit and CPADectetive.

      Just note, these tools are only as good as the data points that can be passed to them by your tracking platform. Not every tracking platform can pass them the same data points, so each tool has its pro and cons. When in question and within your budget use both, compare, then if they don’t provide same answer on if something is phishy or not, question them both why…

      In closing:

      Networks and Merchants need to be able to back themselves up with FACTS when they cry fraud. Simple as that. If you can’t provide facts that are indisputable, then its just another tool for not paying out and keeping 100% margin.

      *TheMail featured this comment in a new post: The Fraud Detection Debate Rages On With Smarter Chaos’ Matt Frary and CPAWAY’s Thomas Dietzel

  4. Pingback: The Fraud Detection Debate Rages On With Smarter Chaos’ Matt Frary and CPAWAY’s Thomas Dietzel « TheMail

  5. Pingback: CPA Detective’s David Sendroff Responds To The Fraud Detection Controversy « TheMail

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