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Click Fraud - A Billion Dollars a Year in Invalid Clicks
10% Of All Clicks Identified as Invalid - Advertisers ID less than .02%!
Brett_Tabke




msg:3267418
 4:55 am on Mar 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

[adwords.blogspot.com...]

Our invalid clicks rate ; the activity rate ; has remained in the range of less than 10% of all clicks every quarter since we launched AdWords in 2002. At Google&#8217;s current revenue rate, every percentage point of invalid clicks we throw out represents over $100 million/year in potential revenue foregone.

Because it is difficult to definitively determine the intent of a click in many cases, the number of invalid clicks that we filter also include those filtered for reasons separate from fraudulent intent. Cases of provable click fraud attempts constitute a small minority of the clicks we mark as invalid. There are many greyer cases of possible click fraud attempts (but without clear scientific proof, for which we still choose not to charge advertisers. For example, we have an automated rule which filters out the second click of all double clicks as a matter of policy. We mark this kind of activity as invalid simply to optimize advertiser ROI. Those clicks are included in our activity metric and are also a good reason we use the term invalid clicks instead of fraud.

MarketWatch [marketwatch.com]
Reuters [news.yahoo.com]

But according to Google, in the worst cases, on average 10% of all ad clicks are invalid. Typically, the amount is in the low-single-digit percentages. Google bases that figure on the average number of invalid clicks that it catches, and as a result, doesn't charge customers for. That amounts to about $1 billion a year in payments Google could have collected, but chose not to, it said.
The amount of click fraud Google doesn't catch, but is brought to its attention by advertisers, represents less than 0.02% of the times an ad's clicked upon, according to Google.

Google also said Thursday it will introduce a number of new click-fraud-fighting measures in coming weeks and months. They include letting advertisers notify Google about specific Internet addresses from where they suspect click-fraud attacks are emanating.

Cnet [news.com.com]

Google claims that click fraud represents a very small amount--a percentage that is in the single digits--of total clicks, and says it catches nearly all of it before customers get charged. Google has said that less than 10 percent of all clicks on ads it serves are dubious in nature and it does not charge advertisers for those. Google provides refunds to customers who request them because of suspicious clicks for less than 0.02 percent of all clicks, the company said.

Forbes [forbes.com]

On Wednesday the company said that "less than 10%" of all clicks in its AdWords network are &#8220;invalid". What's an invalid click? Not necessarily a fraudulent click: It could also be unintended double-clicks, certain "innocent" types of bots or web-crawlers that open up advertising links, or simply Web browser errors.

OK, so how much click fraud is Google dealing with? The company still won't say. It's a subset of that "less than 10%" number, but it won't say more than that, other than noting that advertisers themselves identify .02% of their clicks as fake. If Google agrees an advertiser-reported click is truly bad, it offers a credit.


 

mimmo




msg:3270519
 8:43 am on Mar 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

The main perpetrators appear to be competitors of advertisers and ...

I do not think this is such a big issue (for us at least). Yes, my competitors may click on my ads to check my landing pages, they may even click a few times per day, but I do not think my competitors are going to organize proxy servers, bots etc and definitely they are not going to impact my ROI. If anything, thank you for increasing my CTR.

RonnieG




msg:3271218
 5:45 am on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google also said Thursday it will introduce a number of new click-fraud-fighting measures in coming weeks and months. They include letting advertisers notify Google about specific Internet addresses from where they suspect click-fraud attacks are emanating.

Hmmmm? Sounds familiar.

Oh yeah, I made that suggestion myself on 12/16 in the "Adwords Features I'd Like to See" thread on this forum. Re: [webmasterworld.com...] about half way down. It makes so much sense and is so simple that I wouldn't be surprised if similar suggestions have been made for a long time.

While some advertisers may not be willing or able to track fraudulent clicks from specific IPs, I can, and I want to be able to do that. I have already identified a dozen fraudster IPs that will go on my block list as soon as one is available to us.

gregbo




msg:3272165
 3:19 am on Mar 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I do not think this is such a big issue (for us at least). Yes, my competitors may click on my ads to check my landing pages, they may even click a few times per day, but I do not think my competitors are going to organize proxy servers, bots etc and definitely they are not going to impact my ROI. If anything, thank you for increasing my CTR.

Interesting. I wonder why you feel that way. Is it because you think your competitors don't know how to run fraudulent proxy servers or bots (or hire those who do), or that they just wouldn't bother? Perhaps you're right, but there is a old saying in the computer security field that one should never underestimate one's adversary. If you can think of something your adversary could do to you, chances are your adversary has also thought of it.

gregbo




msg:3272169
 3:25 am on Mar 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

On "Google Search" related ads, who has interest on clicking on the ads, beside Google itself or your competitors? I think fraud here is not very high.

Shareholders of Google could click on the Google search ads in order to raise the value of their stock. And they don't need to target a particular advertiser, or sector, even. Just randomly searching, clicking on the sponsored links, and maybe visiting a few of the sponsor's pages so as not to arouse suspicion.

Maybe it is just me ... but I am more concerned about the value of the clicks you are paying for, which Google things are "valid clicks". If they are not converting, they are 100% useless even if "valid clicks".

Agreed.

mimmo




msg:3272394
 10:17 am on Mar 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Interesting. I wonder why you feel that way. Is it because you think your competitors don't know how to run fraudulent proxy servers or bots (or hire those who do), or that they just wouldn't bother? Perhaps you're right, but there is a old saying in the computer security field that one should never underestimate one's adversary. If you can think of something your adversary could do to you, chances are your adversary has also thought of it.

- Yes, but if my ROI for a keyword is good enough for me, why would I care? Better CTR.

- I hope my competitors do not click ONLY on my links, but also on all other competitors links! :-) So everybody is clicking everybody's else ads?

- I think for the competitors' clicks to impact your ROI, you must be paying *a lot* for clicks and only get very few clicks. In that case, your business is possibly NOT suitable for Internet ads.

mimmo




msg:3272403
 10:25 am on Mar 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Shareholders of Google could click on the Google search ads in order to raise the value of their stock. And they don't need to target a particular advertiser, or sector, even. Just randomly searching, clicking on the sponsored links, and maybe visiting a few of the sponsor's pages so as not to arouse suspicion.

This is the nature of Internet advertising. Yes, we do pay "per click", but it does not mean that each click is a good one. As far as a significant percentage of clicks is good, we are happy and continue paying. I may be wrong: but I rather focus on the overall ROI rather than focusing on fraud.

europeforvisitors




msg:3272547
 1:32 pm on Mar 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Shareholders of Google could click on the Google search ads in order to raise the value of their stock.

Sure, and shareholders of Yahoo or Microsoft could click on the Google search ads in order to lower the value of Google's stock. Somehow, though, I don't think there are hordes of stockholders sitting around clicking on ads in a vain effort to influence the stock market. Still, if anyone hears that one of the big mutual funds is operating a clickbot ring, please let us know. :-)

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