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Old 01-04-2007   #1
Kevin Newcomb
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Should We Care About "The Sausage Manifesto"

Today's SearchDay, It's Time to See What's In the PPC Sausage, looks into Jeffrey Rohr's open letter to paid search networks about click fraud. Some point-by-point responses from Shuman Ghosemajumder can be found on the SEW blog.

Do you think Rohr makes valid points? Are the 11 requests legitimate? Are Google's responses adequate? Share your thoughts here.
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Old 01-04-2007   #2
Mel66
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Excellent, excellent discussion - thanks to Jeffrey Rohrs for writing the manifesto, and to Shuman G. at G for responding quickly.

I was at the Click Fraud ("Auditing Paid Listings") session at SES Chicago. I heard the frustration during the Q & A, and asked questions myself. I, too, found myself replaying the Q & A in my head after the session. The thing that stuck with me the most was when an audience member had asked a question, listened to the "answers" given by the panel (which, IMHO, were nothing more than PR platitudes), and became noticeably frustrated in his follow up questions. Voices were starting to rise on both sides of the speaker's table. Finally, Jessie Stricchiola interrupted one of her fellow panelists and said, (and I paraphrase), "What I'm hearing is that an advertiser is paying what is to them a lot of money for these ads, and they understand their business, and they're tracking their clicks and sales, and they feel these clicks were invalid, and they're being blown off and basically told by the engines that they don't know what they're talking about." HEAR HEAR to Jessie. As advertisers, we understand that not every complaint is going to result in a full refund. That's fine with most of us. What we don't want is platitudes, condescencion, or worse, zero acknowledgement of our concerns and issues. We want the reps at the engines to at least acknowledge us, and admit there *might* be a problem. It all comes down to customer service.

WRT third-party click fraud tools and/or web analytics or whatever we're using to detect click fraud, I do think we as advertisers need to make sure we check to make sure the engines actually billed us for the suspect clicks before we go crying for refunds. The engines do scrub their clicks and filter out invalid clicks from our bills, and in all honesty they do a halfway decent job of this. That said, analytics et al do not filter out these clicks - after all, they still hit your site. That is one of the reasons your logs or jsp tracking will never match what the engines are reporting. So just because you see a bunch of bogus clicks in your logs doesn't mean you got billed for them. Make sure you were actually billed before you go to the engines with a complaint.

Finally, while I agree with Jeffrey's 11 points for the most part, I think Shuman should be commended for his reply and its timeliness. It is my opinion that Google is way, way ahead of their competitors in responding appropriately to click fraud. Not only is their network much less click-fraud-prone than some of the others, but it has been my experience that they are much more responsive when it does occur. I have almost always gotten credits for invalid clicks I've discovered in my Adwords account. Furthermore, they give us advertisers control by allowing us site exclusion - although they need to take it one step further and extend it to the search network as well as the content network.

Yahoo is the worst of the bigs when it comes to click fraud refunds. I have not gotten so much as a reply to most of my reports of suspicious clicks from Yahoo. Not even a reply - much less a refund. And they don't have site exclusion. And their network is full of garbitrage. I do think John Slade is intelligent and I'm sure he meant what he said at the Chicago panel, but I'm sorry John, you need to put your actions where your words are and teach your CS reps to actually respond to customers who spend 6 and 7 figures with you annually. Don't ignore them or tell them they don't know what they're doing.

Well I guess this was my own manifesto! As with many things in the SEM world, this is all so new and we are all learning our way together. Click fraud is getting too much press for the engines to ignore it any longer, imho.

Melissa
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Old 01-16-2007   #3
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Time to Make the Sausage

I didn't have the opportunity to make that session at SES and I am so glad that I found this nugget of information. I reflect back on the old Dunkin Donuts commercial and the donut maker getting out of bed and disliking every second of it. Do you think that's what the engine makers like Google and Yahoo are doing? Waking up every morning and saying, "time to monitor the click fraud?" NAH - they are so happy seeing the cash registers ring that Google’s paying out a $90,000,000 settlement is a drop in the bucket.

So I applaud Jeffrey Rohrs "Sausage Manifesto” It is brilliant. The whole logistical problems the engines will wrangler with are having to hire additional help for all of the charge backs businesses will demand. If click fraud represents 25%-30% of actual clicks http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/060309-001743, then how many billions of dollars would come out of Google's coffers annually?

In the media world TV stations are still in an archaic situation where media buyers post back on a rating point if the television station doesn't hit that targeted rating point as promised in the previous rating book. Do you think that same media buyer will ever pay extra for higher ratings achieved and improved performance - Hell No! Televisions have complete control of this nonsense and they still allow this to happen….Why? – BECAUSE THEY STILL ARE GETTING THE LION’S SHARE and the media buyers feel they have control!!

As the Internet grows and if click fraud is not reigned in the Engines have the final say and that is to their and their stockholders advantage. They probably have witness what traditional media has done and they aren't allowing this to happen to their model.

The difference is we have the technology to see the clicks and results and it would be in the best interest of the Engines to provide this data back to the buyer. It will take years for the Internet to catch up to the Media spend on television, but with the video portals coming into play this might give the Internet a leg up. Except for the fact of CLICK FRAUD yet again. Traditional advertisers will see the advantage of paying for the reach and knowing they get a guaranteed rating.

1. Invest in Proportion to the Problem
"Warranted or not, a lot of us have a sneaking suspicion that you pocket more money from invalid clicks (including third-party click fraud) than you invest in its prevention. ... If your data shows that click fraud is actually in the single digits, then please invest at least that much in its prevention."
2. Acknowledge that Tracking Alone Is Not the Answer
"We understand that conversion tracking is our responsibility to implement and monitor. However, even if we’re watching our conversion rates, please understand that we may not be able to identify fraudulent clicks due to market realities."



Give the added control back to the buying community. The engines could just build in the best click monitoring software and integrate it with their do it yourself platform. It’s seems so easy to spend money on the engines, but not so easy to save. In the short term they’ll generate more ad dollars than Outdoor and Radio but if they want to reach TV and Newspaper Spend

The Engines need to wake up every morning and SCREAM – TIME TO MAKE THE SAUSAGE!!!
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Old 01-16-2007   #4
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Some interesting comments here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mel66
Make sure you were actually billed before you go to the engines with a complaint.

I do think we as advertisers need to make sure we check to make sure the engines actually billed us for the suspect clicks before we go crying for refunds.
This is difficult for advertisers to do on several levels the chief of them being:

1. Time. Most advertisers don’t understand the need for either in-house or third party PPC auditing so that leaves them with log files unless their analytics service (if they have one - and know how to fully use it) can provide them the click stream data they are after.

Big advertisers managing many large marketing campaigns don't have the bandwidth to scrutinize their PPC activity. When you consider the amount of money being spent in different campaigns and the amount of combined data there is we would be talking overload. If a big advertiser does become aware that they might have a problem then it boils down to what’s cheaper: living with invalid clicks or hiring someone to deal with them.

Smaller advertisers will probably be more strapped for both time and money. Because of the amounts potentially at stake (and every dime counts for a smaller advertiser) they will probably be the most concerned about it. However, because of the usual lack of web technical knowledge and a knowledge of how the PPC model works in addition to the little amount of time they have they probably wont be able to do much about it.

2. Transparency. Even with the use of an in-house or third-party auditing service showing you every visit to your site, how will you know what visit you were charged for and which visit you weren’t amongst the 'noise' of normal PPC Activity? How do I know that an abnormal level of users from China and Pakistan (despite my campaign being set to not allow so - yes, it happens) that I detected visiting my site three hours ago didn’t wind up getting billed to my credit card?

Google has the data - but they will not share it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davecarberry
The difference is we have the technology to see the clicks and results and it would be in the best interest of the Engines to provide this data back to the buyer.
Absolutely. Why shouldn’t advertisers have access to the referrer data of every click they purchased?
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