Posted September 24, 2007 10:23 am by with 15 comments

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A couple of weeks ago we reported Google’s Shuman Ghosemajumder had attacked Click Forensics latest click fraud report.

Forbes has now taken Shuman’s criticisms and given Click Forensics Chief Executive Tom Cuthbert the opportunity to respond.

Here’s a snippet…

Are your estimates inflated by “fictitious clicks”–clicks that Google doesn’t count?

…All of our data is also based on Google Click ID, and Shuman knows that. He may be correct about other auditors in this space, but what he’s said and the way he said it is misleading.

How do you handle “click-backs,” situations in which a user reloads an advertisement’s landing page? Do you and other auditors count the page’s reloading as another click on the ad?

Absolutely not. Using Google Click ID prevents us from counting click-backs, and even when we have analyzed the number of click-backs compared to the overall problem of click fraud, it’s a very small percentage. Regardless, using Click IDs and other methodologies means there are no fictitious clicks in our data.

If I sound somewhat aggravated, it’s because I am. Shuman knows very well that we use Google Click ID. But he has a tendency to talk about fictitious clicks and then bring up our name to try to link us with that, even though he knows it’s not true. We’re a bit frustrated with that.

Forbes then went back to Shuman…

Shuman Ghosemajumder responded to Cuthbert’s comments by noting that while Click Forensics’ use of Google Click ID is encouraging, the auditor’s numbers were likely skewed by inaccuracies in how it counts fictitious clicks on Microsoft’s and Yahoo!’s network. He repeated his assertion that Click Forensics has access to only a tiny fraction–about 1%–of the data that Google uses to analyze click fraud, and again underscored that Google has no incentive to allow fraudulent clicks.

Can you figure out who’s telling the truth?

  • Jason

    If the companies that are purchasing ads thought that click fraud was a real problem they wouldn’t be purchasing the ads. Those companies must be getting the return they expect from their online ads purchased through AdWords, or they wouldn’t be purchasing ads.

    Or they are just stupid and wouldn’t make good business people.

    Let the fact that the customers keep returning tell you that Google is telling the truth.

  • JP

    There are thousands of success stories of Adsense publishers generating good income from their websites.

    Recently we did a searched for success stories of Adwords and Adsense *Advertisers*, there are only few success stories of Advertisers on google Ad network with billions of Ad revenue.

    Success of an Advertisement medium depends on Advertiser ROI, if not the Ad medium will fail, this is what happened with the Banner Ad era of web 1.0 We all know that lot of people knowingly or unkowingly click on the ad links but how many are actually buying products/services is the big question?

  • how can be these numbers so huge when google kicks out publishers from AdSense when they accidentally even once click on their ads?

    those click frouders must use very sophisticated technologies:)

  • Jason

    JP that is my point. ROI must be positive for all the businesses that continue to return to Google to display ads, or they wouldn’t be returning. If you post an ad and you see no ROI then you will cancel the ad. Simple economics shows that Google is telling the truth.

  • Jason, whether or not ROI is positive or not determines whether you continue advertising. If you are spending a 1,000,000 and click Forensics is correct that’s a lot more profit. My real concern is that Adwords is basically a blackbox since no one knows what is actually click fraud to Google. The double click issue that was brought up by the 3rd party after the last settled law suit should make us all wonder what is invalid and what isn’t. For instance that report showed Google counted ALL double clicks for over a year. When it takes a year to decide that some double clicks are invalid you got to wonder exactly what is invalid in their eyes and how quickly they act. You can’t stop wondering how much they profited from that.

    Until there is total transparency I’ll be skeptical of what Google says is valid. For instance I once asked if proxy server clicks were counted since I only advertise in the US anyone using a non ISP proxy server should not be valid because their real location can’t be determined. I know through a component I have on the server that lots of fraud is committed via proxy both click and ecommerce.

  • JP

    The reality is there are very few ROI testimonies of google Advertisers online you can verify this fact yourself. If someone is making lots of money they will brag about it that is human nature and internet makes it easy to brag if we don’t find lots of success stories about adsense advertising then something is amiss…..

    Most companies use Advertising agencies to place Ads i doubt if they are analyzing the ROI in the near term, it will take some time for the ROI realities to be noticed, the banner advertisement hype lasted about 3 years.

    All modern advertisement pricing concepts are based on media/channel *reach*, where a specific entity owns the media/channel. On the internet media/channel does not exist. The moment we register a domain name and host some web pages they are accessible on the internet, there is no scope for a media/channel concept on Internet.

    The reality is unless an entity owns the media/channel it cannot collect advertisement rent on it…..

    Google does not own internet so they will not be able to collect rent on it…..

    Google owns Gmail, so they will be able to collect advertisement rent on it…..

  • I would reiterate the need for transparency from Google, I use third party click fraud software between the ad and my landing page to collect the data which Google does not give out.

    I have been the victim of invalid clicks from content network advertising which Google did catch and gave me a refund, but without my own software I would not know where the clicks came from and how to prevent the perpetrator accessing my ads in future.

  • Neil, you have done very smart, Google does not share any information, and how knows, may be they would not detect click froud on your ads if you had not reported.
    Could you share here what software you use?

  • Jason, IMO, only a fool brags about the results and ROI from anything as most of us are 3rd party and it would be a breach of the clients trust or in some cases the contract. Secondly, 1 invalid click that isn’t being addressed is 1 too many! I don’t care if that is the only click that doesn’t convert. No one knows how acurate Googles stats are because we do not know what is being classed as invalid. The double click issue is a prime example of invalid clicks that were counted as valid without the client knowing why. Remember it isn’t just that they don’t tell us what is invalid when you submit a request for refund they deny with basically “it’s invalid because we say it is period” with in some cases no explaination of what was wrong with your documentation. It’s a blackbox no other way to describe it.

  • The thing about click fraud and invalid clicks is that it’s never truly black or white. Nobody is completely right or wrong on the matter, as there are always too many unknowns.

    I don’t agree with Jason that as long as we’re getting a positive ROI, we should leave it alone. If that was the case, why do we bother with optimizing our ads, split testing our landing pages, or experimenting with different headlines… often to get an extra 1-2% conversion.

    The important thing here is for 3rd parties to serve as advocates for advertisers and to push changes through. Just recently Google implemented a new feature that allows advertisers to block certain IPs from ever seeing their ads. It’s a good start.

    However, there is room for more. The next improvement that should come is an itemized bill of clicks that the search engine charge the advertisers for. This way, it won’t be such a black box anymore, as the advertisers will know exactly what they got and what they are being billed for.

    Boris Mordkovich

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