Google casts doubt on click fraud findings

Google warns its AdWords customers to take the findings of click fraud specialists with a pinch of salt

Matt Whipp
9 Aug 2006

Google has warned its AdWords customers to take the findings of click fraud specialists with a pinch of salt.

It says that many audits of click fraud data are performed using flawed metrics and that many reports over-inflate estimates of the extent of the problem.

Shuman Ghosemajumder, Google's Business Product Manager for Trust & Safety, claimed that 'many click fraud consultants don't count actual ad clicks'.

'The consultants count page reloads and subsequent visits on an advertiser's site as multiple clicks on the advertiser's Google ad. This generates fictitious ad clicks in the consultant's reports.'

Additionally, it is alleged that the methodologies used count clicks for all monitored advertising networks and then attribute them all to each network.

'One often-used consultant implements the cookie in such a way that clicks on Yahoo! ads can be counted as clicks on Google ads, and vice versa,' it is claimed.

Additionally, some consultants are even reporting genuine clicks as fictitious or fraudulent clicks, with evidence that these have a conversion rate of greater than 5 per cent.

Such is the extent of the problem that Google claims some figures quoted for click fraud are 50 per cent greater than the same figures it has in its own log files.

Its report on third-party click fraud auditing by Google's 'Click Quality Team' looked into reports from leading click fraud specialists AdWatcher, ClickFacts, and Click Forensics, saying 'all of the reports we've seen from these consultants exhibit the serious problems we have described'.

The click fraud issue is a high profile one for Google. In March, retailer Lane's Gifts won $90 million in legal fees and compensation in a class action suit against Google for click fraud, although a subsequent investigation found Google's approach to the problem 'reasonable'.

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