Is Click Fraud for Dummies?

Google says auditing firms can’t count! The company put out a report, claiming that third-party auditing firms that report fictitious clicks – clicks Google says were never made on Google’s AdWords platform – are implying that keyword advertisers everywhere are suffering inflated costs.

Despite past efforts to downplay it, click fraud – phony clicks that drive up a site’s revenue, rather than direct the clicks to a relevant search for a product or service — has become a serious issue for ad-driven websites. And Internet companies are trying to get ahead of the problem.

One way Google has addressed this is by introducing an “invalid clicks” reporting tool to give advertisers access to better data.

The industry also is trying to minimize the perceived size of the problem. “We’ve seen media reports and data from consultants that didn’t make any sense,” says Shuman Ghosemajumder, Google’s business product manager for trust and safety. Google wants auditors to change their accounting, and advertisers to know they may get “distorted data”.

The Google report doesn’t accuse click fraud auditors of deliberate wrongdoing, but it does say they didn’t do basic checking that would’ve revealed obvious discrepancies. Click Forensics, one of the firms singled out, has said roughly 14% of clicks overall are fraudulent, and CEO Tom Cuthbert stands by his firm’s numbers.

So what’s all the Buzz? Click fraud is part of life. What if you click on an ad (and I know you have), but change your mind as it is trying to load? Are you committing click fraud? And could there be more to the story? Are there sweat shops in China just clicking on your ads? I don’t think so.

2 comments to Is Click Fraud for Dummies?

  • Provident Partners

    What is a symptom of click fraud? for example, if you get a lot of clicks, but no conversion, even if you try different offers, is that cause for investigating whether those clicks are phony?

    Now interns have better things to do don’t they?

  • Paul Dunay

    Check out Business Week this week – they are running a story on Click Fraud with tons of details

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