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Google Expanding its Frontiers: Click Fraud


Google premiered a number of new sites today, including several ventures in China and a new click fraud resource center.

The new Ad Traffic Quality Resource Center is designed to help AdWords advertisers report and avoid bad clicks—but more importantly, it’s for Google to communicate about click fraud with advertisers and reassure them.

venn diagram of click fraud from GoogleGoogle illustrates click fraud for their advertisers, stating that they automatically compensate for virtually all click fraud by using a click fraud rate that they know is too high. By creating “false positives” in click fraud, Google ensures that their advertisers aren’t overcharged. Google refers to this as “proactively detecting” click fraud, and states that on average 10% of all clicks are invalid clicks which fall into this category:

Our filters are particularly apt at detecting invalid clicks due to their flexibility. Rather than ignoring a fixed percentage of clicks, they react to various traffic patterns and indications of click fraud attacks. Real-time monitoring and filtering means our invalid click rate is constantly fluctuating. On average, invalid clicks account for less than 10% of all clicks. At our current revenue run rate, the number of clicks we filter and therefore do not charge our advertisers for is potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

It’s admirable that Google takes on this burden for tracking and defending against click fraud—even assuming some of the risk—but perhaps even more important in the Ad Traffic Quality Resource Center is an easy way to request an invalid click investigation from their Contact Us page.

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  • http://www.textadsearch.com/ TextAdSearch

    Doesn’t 10% seem a little high. How much of this 10% are actual real clicks that are being discounted. I can understand Google’s need to protect their advertisers but what about their publishers.

  • http://shauncarter.com Shaun Carter

    So if 10% are bad clicks then how come I am not receiving a 10% rebate on my adwords account each month?

    I also have to wonder how accurate Google’s invalid click decision is because there are many publishers having accounts deleted for supposed invalid click.

  • http://www.hmtk.com HMTKSteve

    I have to agree with TextAdSearch above. I run tracking software that tracks all outgoing clicks on my sites and I always see a variance of more than 10% on my AdSense info page in regards to AdSense clicks.

    I have had days where Google discounts 50% of my AdSense clicks and they never tell me why.

    There is simply too much secrecy in the Google AdWords/AdSense program. Google needs to understand that they need both sides of the program to be happy in order for it to work. If the keep pissing of publishers how will they be able to move their adwords inventory?

  • Pingback: Ramblings from the Marginalized » Google Assumes 10% click fraud rate

  • http://symbiancorner.blogspot.com William

    All filtering job do the software. But clicks do people and software. Software not always can tell people from software. But people always can tell software from people.

  • http://gregbo.livejournal.com/ CPCcurmudgeon

    In essence, they cannot detect click fraud reliably. So they just take 10% off the top. Too bad they didn’t just do this in the first place when AdWords was launched. Why all the secrecy for something that was obvious to anyone who has an understanding of Internet architecture and protocols?

    Actually, they are taking a financial hit, to the extent that they cannot bill for clicks that actually weren’t fraudulent (or otherwise “invalid”), and for all the extra processing they do to try to determine this.

    The advertisers who settled for the 0.5% payout got screwed. Likewise, honest publishers who aren’t click fraud victims are screwed.

  • http://www.youtube-video-izle.com youtube-video-izle

    What is the difference between click fraud attempts and invalid clicks? I’m wondering, is it possible creating trojan-like programs clicking from all over the world just once per day? Would such a program get caught?

  • http://gregbo.livejournal.com/ CPCcurmudgeon

    An “invalid click”, as defined by Google, is something they do not charge the advertiser for, because they believe the advertiser should not have to pay. This includes things like a user clicking the back button to return to a click target (when the advertiser has enabled Google Analytics tagging), and clicks that Google may have identified as coming from automated, high-volume sources.

    On the other hand, a click fraud attempt happens when someone (or something) issues clicks with the intent (this is significant) of defrauding the advertiser, publisher, or engine/network. This cannot be measured from a web server log, byte stream, or any other information that is provided via standard Internet communication channels. (It can be measured if you know a priori that an adversary is generating such clicks, and you employ something like a honeypot to capture those clicks as evidence.) Furthermore, there is no security architecture in the Internet, so it is relatively easy for software to be written (or humans to be employed) to generate fraudulent clicks that are no different than non-fraudulent, non-”invalid” clicks. As you note, this software can be easily distributed as trojans because of users who do not properly secure their machines, or run software that allows their machines to be compromised.

  • Pingback: Ramblings from the Marginalized » Am I guilty of click-fraud?

  • Lori G

    sheesh – I have little idea what this is about – I am one of those technically challenged 40′s-50′s something who never fully grasped math .. SO all that google techno jargon mumblejumble means zip to me .. what I do know tho – AND I HOPE THERE ARE SOME GOOD ATTORNEYS READING THIS who find this all more than a little interesting – is that each time we ask for assistance/investigation the gobbledygookjargon gets more intense.

    We began an ADWORDS program a little more than a year ago Jan 07 we were billed usd $2300 & they showed we supposedly had 2228 clicks that first month. Oct 07 with 1694 clicks we get billed for $3200 ?? and our phones are not ringing off the hook nor are people requesting our service from our website. Something most definitely is amiss.