Is VapingUnderground.com sending a shitload of bots to click on banner ads on their own site so that advertisers will have a false impression of how well their ads are performing?
According to users on Reddit, the answer is yes.
Reddit user ecigtraffic posted the following image last night, inviting other companies who advertise on VapingUnderground to compare traffic:
The image appears to show a bunch of traffic from vaporjoesnetwork.com (the VapingUnderground ads) coming from about nine different servers, which means it’s all but certain that these are bots. The Reddit user claims that he is paying a $250 per month flat fee, which means that there is very little likelihood of this being a competitor attempting to drive up the PPC (Pay-Per-Click) costs. The most likely explanation is that VapingUnderground is trying to artificially inflate the value of the advertisements by making it seem as if advertisers are receiving a shitload of traffic from the site when, in fact, most of the traffic consists of bots instead of real people. If the allegations are true, that is.
Further evidence of the traffic consisting of bots comes from the following image, also posted on Reddit showing a 98.55% bounce rate from the traffic:
Of course, the obvious question is why would any company pay $250 per month to be one of the 78y67097465420475 advertisers cluttering up the sidebar on that site in the first place? You’re getting next to zero visibility for a high price. I guess PT Barnum was right after all: a sucker really is born every minute.
If every one of those ad spots is selling for $250, then VapingUnderground is bringing in over $6k per month from banner ads alone (most likely more since different ads typically sell for different rates, depending on positioning). It’s safe to assume that a lot of these advertisers are paying that price because they (for some reason) think that they are getting real traffic. Since it’s virtually impossible to deliver meaningful traffic to all of your advertisers when you have 257962741245 of them, it becomes very tempting to pad those numbers with bots.
If there’s any truth to these allegations, Vapor Joe (owner of the site) could be fucked once all of his advertisers pull the plug. As of right now the only proof are these images from the Reddit thread, which also includes a discussion of how big of an asshole Vapor Joe is. We’ll see if more proof emerges.