We often describe the ad fraud problems related to false manifestations of user activity. They mainly concern affiliate marketing, i.e. a type of internet marketing in which the advertiser pays partners called publishers to acquire for them potential customers. By definition, publishers are owners of websites thematically related to the advertiser’s activity, influencers or people with authorized access to large databases. However, it is often the case that the publisher is a fraudster and the activities he generate, called traffic, is very poor quality. This will be the case if the given manifestations of activities are generated by BOTs or if the publisher uses false or outdated data. But some of them are much more sophisticated - they pay a part of their salary in exchange for actions coming from real people, but unfortunately not interested in the advertisers’ offer and therefore very poor quality.
Internet advertising frauds, due to the complexity of the problem they pose in many countries (including Poland), are subject to very little legal regulations, which allows fraudsters to act in a gray area. So the temptation is great - you can earn quite well, and the possible consequences aren’t too serious. Therefore, some publishers consciously generate poor quality traffic, for example by creating websites that allow users to ... earn by clicking or displaying advertisements. Such practices are called GPTA - Get Paid To Action, so get remuneration for actions that most often include clicks (Get Paid To Click), reading advertising emails (Get Paid To Read), registration (Get Paid To Register) or downloading an application or program (Get Paid To Download / Install). How exactly does it work?
How does the user earn?
Lured by the temptation of easy earnings, the user usually registers on a given website for free and therefor gain access to various offers. Interestingly, some websites allow you to remain anonymous, so you don’t have to provide too much data, although you may need to provide your account number with further cooperation. Each offer should contain a detailed description of what the user must do and what remuneration he will receive for it. It may be, for example, clicking on a given link, registering on the advertiser’s website, downloading the indicated application from a specific source, etc. You should pay attention to the time after which the commission will be charged for the performed task. The appearance of the remuneration on the user’s account, may depend on whether the action has been recognized as correct by the Advertiser from which the offer comes.
Therefore, the user accumulates remuneration for individual shares in his account, but this doesn’t mean that he can cash them at any time. Usually, on this type of website there will be a „minimum necessary for withdrawal” - that is, the minimum amount that the user must accumulate on his account. Only after exceeding such a threshold, you can count on the payment, and these are also made on set dates - depending on the regulations of a given website. In the regulations we will also find (or at least we should) information about the possible forms of payment of remuneration - it can be a transfer to the account, but some websites offer a catalog of rewards from which the user selects those that interest him, thus avoiding the problem with the settlement of the „income” obtained.
How should the user account for such revenues? It depends on the legal regulations in a given country, but usually company registration is not needed. Revenues from similar sources are generally so low that they are not subject to taxation, and websites regulations themselves often refer to the commission for users as „rewards”.
How much can a user earn?
Although, as the owners of similar websites assure, such a comfortable work at home via the Internet may turn out to be a source of income, and even an alternative to full-time work - in practice it doesn’t look so rosy.
It all depends, of course, on how much commitment the user must show when performing a given action, and for downloading or installing a given application, the rate will certainly be higher than for clicking on an advertisement or opening an email. In most cases, however, these are penny rates - for a click on a paid link, you can usually get from 0.01 to 5 groszy (on websites settling in PLN) or from 0.05 to 3 cents (on websites settling in USD). Paying out such small amounts would be a huge problem for the owners of such websites, hence the aforementioned minimum thresholds.
We must remember that the remuneration in this case is only part of what the website owner receives - it must be profitable primarily for him, but that’s not all. It should also be taken into account that Advertisers don’t want to pay for duplicates - this means that very often the user will be able to use a given offer only once. And the number of available offers will also certainly be limited. So it won’t be that if we are ready to spend a lot of our time, we will for sure earn more - it may turn out that there are simply not enough offers that we can use.
Owners of websites dedicated to easy earning via the internet usually also offer another form of income - the referral system - i.e. earning money by promoting a given website. You bring a new user, he brings another user, etc. They usually take the form of a multi-level pyramid - the referrals of your referrals are also your referrals - and you receive an additional commission for their actions. Of course, these won’t be large amounts, but in this case it is about the quantity, because this is what the owner of the website wants - as many active users as possible.
How does the website owner earn?
How does the website owner earn? Theoretically, it is about generating, and therefore delivering to the advertiser, potential customers. Such easy earning websites connect advertisers with „ad viewers”. Of course, the amount obtained for each action from the advertiser is higher than the amount paid to the user - the website earns this difference. Some larger websites of this type also offer advertisers to buy advertising space directly on their websites or send messages to their users, treating them additionally and monetizing as a database.
Is such action a fraud?
It depends. If the advertiser knows exactly where the traffic is coming from, then no. And this may certainly be the case, especially in the case of campaigns aimed at building reach or creating brand awareness among Internet users. However, most often the entire process is mediated by affiliate networks or agencies - and the advertiser may have no idea where the traffic is actually coming from. In the terms and conditions of a given affiliate program or campaign, the advertiser should clearly define what is and what isn’t allowed. Most often, among the prohibited activities, paid or manipulated traffic will be mentioned. This is because advertisers want to find potential customers - people who are actually interested in their offer. It isn’t in their interest to bear the costs of handling requests that won’t end up with sale. So if, despite the fact that such information is included in the terms of the offer, the owner of a Get Paid To Action type website provides the advertiser with traffic, then he is by all means a fraudster who deliberately breaks the campaign’s assumptions. With time the advertiser will notices that a given source generates very poor quality traffic and it will certainly be excluded from campaign, but by that time it can earn quite a lot. It will be practically impossible to recover the money already paid, as well as to hold the owner of the website accountable. The only way in such a case may be a civil lawsuit - and not many advertisers will decide to take such a radical action.