July 25, 2006 9:03 PM PDT

Google to offer advertisers click fraud stats

Responding to concerns about click fraud in the online-ad industry, Google will be revealing to advertisers the number of invalid clicks on their ads.

With changes the company is set to make to its AdWords system late Tuesday, advertisers will be able to see the number of invalid clicks Google found, as well as what percentage that represents of total clicks registered, said Shuman Ghosemajumder, business product manager for trust and safety at Google.

Click fraud occurs when Web site publishers click on ads on their site to boost their revenue or when companies click on rivals' ads to eat away at their advertising budgets. Invalid clicks, for which Google does not charge advertisers, include inadvertent double clicks on an ad, according to Ghosemajumder.

"Advertisers asked us for more transparency on this issue," he said. "Until now advertisers haven't had a great deal of data to compare from their own accounts in order to be able to understand what Google is doing for them."

Without relevant click fraud data from Google, advertisers have had to rely on estimates from third-party companies that provide services to combat click fraud and that Google accuses of inflating numbers to drive more business.

Industry reports say fraudulent clicks range from about 14 percent to as high as 20 percent of total clicks.

"Our goal is to provide that transparency so advertisers who previously may have been unnerved or concerned about these wildly exaggerated figures will be able to see now what Google is doing to protect them," Ghosemajumder said.

Google detects and filters out the "vast majority" of invalid clicks, he said, declining to give any general figures on invalid clicks.

Under the new system, AdWords customers will be able to see data on invalid clicks on a daily basis or beyond, going back to the beginning of the year, he said.

Google has had to limit the data it provides to prevent fraudsters from reverse engineering its systems and methods of operation, according to Ghosemajumder.

A report submitted in a court case last week concluded that Google's anti-click fraud efforts are "reasonable." The report was requested as part of a settlement reached between Web site Lane's Gifts and Google.

Lane's Gifts sued Google last year, claiming the search giant charged advertisers for fraudulent clicks. Other advertisers are challenging the settlement in court, arguing that the amount is inadequate compensation.

In a separate click fraud lawsuit, a federal judge approved a $5 million settlement Yahoo reached with Checkmate Strategic Group.

See more CNET content tagged:
click fraud, advertiser, settlement, Google AdWords, Google Inc.

10 comments

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15 to 20% ? You wish!
We at FlashToGo.com are a long time advertisers on Google,
Overture and many others. Very unfortunately to say that the
Click Fraud goes well over 20%.

Our advice is, if you are serious about PPC, you should create
your own machanisms to track the click troughs. You can easily
find several 25 bucks softwares out there that generates click-
throughs. Those softwares simulates diffrent IP#s etcetera.

At FlashToGo we create an "intro" page that require users to
manually click to enter the site, so, by simply comparing the
visitors that come to the intro page and within the site itself, you
have a soomewhat reliable way to measure fraudulent clicks.
Posted by flashtogo (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
15 to 20% ? You wish!
We at FlashToGo.com are a long time advertisers on Google,
Overture and many others. Very unfortunately to say that the
Click Fraud goes well over 20%.

Our advice is, if you are serious about PPC, you should create
your own machanisms to track the click troughs. You can easily
find several 25 bucks softwares out there that generates click-
throughs. Those softwares simulates diffrent IP#s etcetera.

At FlashToGo.com we have created an "intro" page that requires
users to manually click to enter the site so that, by simply
comparing the visitors that come to the intro page and those
who actually come in to the site itself, you have a somewhat
reliable way to measure fraudulent clicks.
Posted by flashtogo (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
better yet...
do organic optimization instead ... or just cut out your downstream ppc..
Posted by djpaisley (80 comments )
Link Flag
This gesture is a mockery of the true problem
As has been said, 15 to 20 percent is so laughably low, it strains credulity.

The search engines are trying to frame click fraud as only multiple clicks originating from the same IP when the definition should be "clicks generated by users who have no genuine intention other than generating revenue for an unrelated third party or draining ad budget from a competitor". The fraudsters moved beyond this amateur-hour technique a long time ago. Ghosting, anonymizing, bot-nets, etc. all engage in click fraud without identical IP's. Hiring click slaves in low wage countries is also a new favorite. In fact, after analyzing the logs, I found that half of my PPC traffic came from India, Africa, and some former Eastern Bloc countries, whereas only about 15% of my non-PPC traffic came from those countries. Zero percent of traffic from those countries, whether PPC or otherwise, actually converted into a lead, sale, or anything else of value.

CNET should pull up a Google search with the keyphrase "earn rupees clicking ads". You will see how prevalent this industry has become.

My company used a 1 pixel java pop up to track click fraud. The pixel loaded only one second after the page loaded. Fully eighty-three percent of our PPC visitors never loaded that pixel, giving us incontrovertible proof that these were not human eyeballs. Ninety-five percent of our non-PPC visitors did load the pixel, which is what you would expect since about 5 percent of browsers are not Java-enabled.

No... natural optimization, coupled with inbound linking strategies are the only way to generate meaningful ROI these days.

Mark
Free Link Popularity E-Course at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.viralinks.com/Viralinks_intro.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.viralinks.com/Viralinks_intro.htm</a>
Posted by 208mbrandon (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are absolutely right
Your detailed description of the extent of click fraud from the Google &#38; Yahoo Ad sense offering is absolutely the best that I have read.
Bravo - my hat off to you :)

Now we have been aware of this same problem for some time, although we did not do as mathematically based analysis as you have done. That is why we switched most of our Ad dollars to Anoox, which:
1- Does not offer Ad sense incentive to Web site owners to engage in click fraud
2- Is not-for-profit so it is much better value.
Check them out, and you will see what I mean:
www.anoox.com

And again thanx on your well analyzed write up.
Posted by Sandra_Kerns (25 comments )
Link Flag
Only one way to avoid Click Fraud of Google or Yahoo
The Google &#38; Yahoo PPC click fraud is what I have been writing about for some time. The SOURCE of this problem is the Google AdSense and equivalent of Yahoo. That is Web sites who get paid by anonymous users clicking on Google or Yahoo Ads
on their Web pages. Many if not all of these Web sites have nothing to SELL, their only source of revenues is click on Google or Yahoo Ads that are on their web pages. So of course then the potential for click fraud is ENORMOUS due to this monetary incentive that they have for (fake) clicks on the Google or Yahoo Ads that are on their web pages. And since these clicks are by anonymous users, then as others have noted, it is very easy for them to fool Google or Yahoo click tracker by clearing Cookies, changing IP via proxy severs and clicking again.

So the only way around this click fraud is a search engine that does not offer such an incentive to fraudsters. That is why we have been using AnooX search engine:
www.anoox.com
and I have been recommending all who want to avoid click fraud to do same. Also since Anoox
is a "not-for-profit" the cost of PPC advertising through them is far lower than Google or Yahoo.
Posted by Sandra_Kerns (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Unfortunately, you have next to no search volume...
which means that it would take years for your minimum deposit to be used up.

Who has that kind of time?

Mark
Free Link Building E-Course at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.viralinks.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.viralinks.com</a>
Posted by 208mbrandon (23 comments )
Link Flag
Welcome back
Surprise surprise, you are promoting AnooX again. Please tell me how AnooX is "not-for-profit" and Open when they require;

A $300 processing fee
10% of all profits
$7500 for support per server

...before you can recieve the source code "for free"? Where does this money go then?

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.anoox.com/open-source-overview.jsp" target="_newWindow">http://www.anoox.com/open-source-overview.jsp</a>
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
Interesting development
There was no mention in the article if Google is refunding the frasud amount to the customers. Does any one know if this is so?. It would seem that this is the fair and just thing to do..
Posted by adamHR (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google is being sued for that
We at FlashToGo.com have received a mere 60 bucks credit for
what they call erroneous clicks. We spend a a few thousand dollars
a month, for years now. So, 60.00 is absolutely ridiculous. :-)

Google is being sued over these fradulent clicks and tried to settled
at US$ 90 M, which was refused (of course). It was published right
here on CNET, about a week or two ago.
Posted by flashtogo (9 comments )
Link Flag
 

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