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Old 03-01-2007   #1
Kevin Newcomb
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Are Google's Click Fraud Efforts Meaningful?

Google today revealed that invalid clicks on Google AdWords ads have consistently remained under the 10-percent mark, and are generally in low single-digits. In addition, the amount of invalid clicks that are not proactively detected and are caught by advertisers is less than 0.02 percent, according to Google's Shuman Ghosemajumder. (Details in today's SearchDay, "Google Offers More Click Fraud Data.")

Are Google's moves to become more transparent to advertisers meaningful? Do the figures they're offering make sense to you? Will the new offerings coming next month -- IP filtering, enhanced invalid clicks reporting, and an educational initiative -- help advertisers? Will the new standardized reporting method, coming later this year, be important to advertisers?
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Old 03-02-2007   #2
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Google needs to do more!

The changes proposed by Google in attempt to provide more transparency regarding invalid clicks are to be welcomed, and ought to be beneficial for advertisers.

However such transparency would be much increased if Google (and other SEs) were to provide advertisers with full, exact details of each click received.

As a bare minimum, the information required includes:

date/time stamp of click
IP address of click
Browser details (HTTP_USER_AGENT)
URL of originating click (HTTP_REFERER)
whether this click is charged
cost of click

All of the above information (and more) is readily available to Google and ought to be provided to advertisers. Presently (as far as I know), the only detailed information provided by Google is that a keyword has received a click at an average cost. It certainly seems quite amazing to me that advertisers do not receive the exact detailed information pertaining to each click, which is a chargeable event.

It is long overdue that Google (and the other SEs) are forced to provide this information to its customers; if not voluntarily then by legislation.

Do you agree?

Last edited by ppcuser : 03-02-2007 at 06:10 AM.
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Old 03-02-2007   #3
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Many advertisers would welcome that level of transparency. Google (and other search engines) argues that giving that level of detail would be counter-productive, since spammers would then know exactly which tactics worked and didn't work, and could then use those successful tactics to defraud advertisers.

Where do you see the balancing point between enough data to be useful to advertisers and too much data that can be useful to spammers?
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Old 03-03-2007   #4
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Thank you for your response, Kevin.

With regard to the question of whether the provision of full information regarding clicks would be of more assistance to spammers than to advertisers, I am not so sure.

It seems to me that the spammers are quite able to test-out their strategies to determine the successful methods, even now, without the full information, so the provision of complete details is unlikely to provide them much benefit.

Whereas, it is only by receiving the full click details that advertisers can perform an accurate reconciliation of their account clicks/charges against separately obtained audit-trail data (i.e. own website activity data, and/or 3rd party independent click-monitoring service providers).

Moreover, I am sure that the clever people at Google would be able to develop a system which minimised any potential benefit to spammers, whilst providing advertisers with the needed information.

Given the present difficulties (impossibility?) of determining the actual click data which results in a charge, perhaps it is not so very surprising that the percentage of invalid clicks identified by advertisers is so low:

"... amount of invalid clicks that are not proactively detected and are caught by advertisers is less than 0.02 percent ..."
(Google supplied value)

The proposal by Google to provide IP filtering is a step in the right direction to provide more control to advertisers;
Google needs to be encouraged to go further and supply advertisers with the full click details.
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Old 03-08-2007   #5
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Spam is only part of the battle. Google can claim a low % of what *they* determine as an invalid click. What really increases costs for advertisers are low quality clicks coming from, shall I say politely "poorly matched" content partners. Having the ability to weed out the thousands of content partners that produce 1-3 clicks a day everyday without ever resulting in a conversion will give a very large boost to the bottom line of advertisers in deed.

I cant believe more people are not buzzing about this. Once it is in place I think you will hear many more people saying WOW, this is a total came changer.

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Old 03-09-2007   #6
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I read the original post at the AdWords blog awhile back and here is my take in a nut shell –

Im not a fan of the invalid clicks report option.
Its just a number that sits in the reporting with no data to back it up. Google says advertisers could always compare their log files to the AdWords reports to calculate an estimate of the number of invalid clicks exist which is so not true for a number of reasons.

IP blocking?
What good will it do? We all know that Google can filter out too many clicks from one IP. That is the lowest form of click fraud. Hopefully some poor advertiser won’t start blocking AOL/Earthlink/Verizon proxies. This is probably more of a “see how we give you more control” thing so Google can pat them selves on the back at SES NY. That panel is almost never a good one for Google/Yahoo.

Click fraud is like email spam?
I didn’t see that as a good comparison. It IS important to know how rampant click fraud activity there is despite the number of invalid clicks Google says they can catch.

Click fraud activity average of to 10%?
10% of what number? And how is that broke down by vertical? Sure the kitty clothes vertical has a low rate but what about mortgage leads and loans verticals?

.02% - Google’s new favorite number.
When you look at that number in context it really isn’t that impressive considering Google holds all of the data and frames the scenario.

Here’s what that number really means:
* An advertiser submitting a request for review of suspicious activity and provides a data sample
* Google reviewing their own data
* Google siding with the advertiser
= .02% click fraud rate?


A couple of things to ask yourself:

1) How many advertisers are actively monitoring their campaigns for click fraud?

2) How many times do advertisers agree with Google’s final determination?

If you’ve read what has been published by SEMPO and been to a few SES panels on this, you would know that many advertisers do not actively monitor and audit their PPC campaigns and that there is usually a strong discord with those who have tried to deal with Google in the past on suspicious activity with their accounts.
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Old 03-09-2007   #7
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I find the .2% number a little incredible.
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Old 03-10-2007   #8
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.02% might seem low. But .02% of 50 billion us dollars is a LOT. If they had written in the press release that advertisers lose 1 billion due to clickfraud, the discussion would have been different, as people will see it as a huge amount.
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Old 03-10-2007   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by infonote
.02% might seem low. But .02% of 50 billion us dollars is a LOT. If they had written in the press release that advertisers lose 1 billion due to clickfraud, the discussion would have been different, as people will see it as a huge amount.
That would be 2%.... .02% of 50 billion (not what is spent - lets try 10 billion) would be 10 Million or $2 million of the total of all engines.
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Old 03-12-2007   #10
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I think Google does a great job of eliminating click fraud from its paid search listings. However, their estimate of .2% is a wee bit optimistic in my opinion.
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Old 03-12-2007   #11
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Funny the crap we are getting from Kanoodle lately I would think their real traffic is about .2%
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Old 03-13-2007   #12
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Funny the crap we are getting from Kanoodle lately I would think their real traffic is about .2%
But be honest, you love the name Kanoodle.
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Old 03-13-2007   #13
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We were having a great deal of success on Kanoodle until they combined with Pulse360. I don't know exactly what changes to their network transpired when this partnership was formed, but one thing is for sure, all of our campaigns went to hell.

We tried to adjust ad creative, pricing and so on, but to no avail. The flood of unqualified clicks, or straight out click fruad overwhelmed any quality traffic that was there.

We stopped all advertising on Kanoodle/Pulse360 last month.

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Old 03-13-2007   #14
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But be honest, you love the name Kanoodle.
Of course I do... used to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside until I saw the ROI
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Old 04-02-2007   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Martin
A couple of things to ask yourself:

1) How many advertisers are actively monitoring their campaigns for click fraud?

2) How many times do advertisers agree with Google’s final determination?

If you’ve read what has been published by SEMPO and been to a few SES panels on this, you would know that many advertisers do not actively monitor and audit their PPC campaigns and that there is usually a strong discord with those who have tried to deal with Google in the past on suspicious activity with their accounts.
Those are excellent questions. Here's what I'm thinking:

1) Not enough, and those that are monitoring may not understand exactly what they are looking at.

2) Unless those advertisiers can definitively prove that there's click fraud on their campaigns, Google will look for a plausiable reason to deny their claims.
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Old 04-03-2007   #16
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2) Unless those advertisiers can definitively prove that there's click fraud on their campaigns, Google will look for a plausiable reason to deny their claims.
Yup. We recently had a 10-fold spike in non-US traffic on a couple of our Adwords campaigns, even though we're set to US only. When I paused the campaigns, the foreign traffic stopped. Clear fraud in my book. I sent documentation to G, down to IP address (at their request), of this traffic, and this was their answer:

"While we are unable to pinpoint exactly what is causing this issue, we rely on our proprietary monitoring technology to supply accurate site traffic data and we kindly ask that you accept our metrics."

So, like it or lump it, basically. It doesn't matter if you have third party tracking and watch it like a hawk - you have to accept G's definition of fraud or no fraud, because they'll likely disagree with your tracking methods.

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