In a report released by Google (pdf), the company attacks three studies claiming that they are either based on guesswork or they are tracking too many “ficticious clicks”.
“Thus the reportÂ’s conclusions about the percentage of fraud and financial loss for the industry are essentially a poll of the perception of the size of the problem (with the backdrop of the previous coverage of high estimates) rather than actual size of the problem. This is analogous to estimating crime rates in a country by asking some residents how much crime they think there is, and averaging those guesses to state that number is the actual rate.”
Google claims that two main reasons account for the inflated click fraud numbers:
Fictitious clicks due to detection of page reloads as ad clicks. This is the
counting of page reloads on an advertiserÂ’s site as multiple clicks on the
advertiserÂ’s AdWords ad Â– which did not actually occur. Page reloads can occur
for various reasons, including:
o user browses more deeply into the advertiserÂ’s site, then hits back button,
causing a potential reload of the original landing page
3 of 17
o user presses browser reload button on the landing page
o user opens a new window in Internet Explorer, causing a reload of the
Fictitious clicks due to conflation across advertisers and ad networks. This is
the counting of one advertiserÂ’s traffic in another advertiserÂ’s report, even if the
advertisers span different ad networks
The report is lengthy, but Google takes the time to point-out the problems with three previously released studies on click fraud. It’s good to see Google finally tackling the real problem with click fraud – too much hype and sensationalism by companies hoping to sell click fraud monitoring services.