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Google Says Click Fraud Is Overestimated
engine




msg:3452620
 10:41 am on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Given that most of Google's $13 billion in revenue comes from clicks on ads, you would think the words "click fraud" would inspire fear in Shuman Ghosemajumder, the company's senior product manager and resident click-fraud czar. But the problem--publishers who inflate pay-per-click ad fees with automatic clicking software--doesn't fluster Ghosemajumder or other Googlers.

But click-fraud auditors argue that there's a discrepancy: They say you throw away no more than 10% of clicks, while they estimate click fraud rates at as much as 25%.

Google Says Click Fraud Is Overestimated [forbes.com]

Interesting article, and either way we're still talking big numbers.

 

Miamacs




msg:3452660
 11:47 am on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google is also a publisher itself. When we display ads on Google.com, we get 100% of the revenue for those ads. When you have bad publishers introduced into the system, the effect is to reduce advertisers' return on investment, because they cost money and don't generate sales. When you reduce [return on investment (ROI)], the rational thing for advertisers to do is to pay less for clicks. That doesn't just mean that the clicks that go through our good publishers' sites make less money. It also means the clicks on Google.com make less money for us.

...

This summed it up.
And this is probably the only convincing comment.

...

The rest is... how should I put this.
Something like this:

Sorry we can't talk about this.
You see, when people reload a page... that's not a click.
( oh DO tell. I suppose those dimwit 3rd party auditors don't know this )

That is classified.
( What else )

3rd party click fraud detection is unreliable.
( sure... )

We have it under control.
( dare say something else )

They don't have the data we have.
( and the examples: browser balance... , CTR, ... )

We are right, they are wrong.
( Speaking as if in **knowledge how the 3rd party auditors' software worked -- to the last detail** ...did you notice? )

Sorry we can't tell you how/why/when/what.
Believe us. Trust us.
...over 100 secret factors.
( I had to smile when I read this one )

...

Surely I'd say they're right on everything unless there were click trackers / audit software ( oh, of course most of them don't work anymore ) on both the advertiser and publisher side.

...

Talking from the position of power. Plain irritating... regardless of who does it on whoever's behalf. Besides, if this is for publishers/advertisers, not sure how generic lessons on what they think is a click in someone else's software would resolve the case. Was this aimed at the industry or at the shareholders?

Google's rhetoric isn't for everyone anymore. The way they have a face for users and another for business. This has nothing to do with how well they do their job, and whether click fraud is 12% or 19% ... and whether that'd be a problem. But they should seriously consider some fresh blood for their PR department.

It's pretty unbalanced right now. If all the stuff they release would be as honest, on-spot and the right blend of technical stuff as Adam Lasnik's comments, they'd win me over again... ( as they won most of our attention with not just a 'good search engine' ).

But whatever, as I said, this convinced me:

It ( click fraud ) also means the clicks on Google.com make less money for us.

...

Does anyone know if an iPhone would work on the moon?

jeffgroovy




msg:3452714
 1:07 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

The way I see it is just as it says. Advertisers bids will ultimately adjust up or down according the percentage of click fraud they are dealing with. If google is comfortable with the current fraud levels and they are taking measures to contain it, and advertisers are using conversion tracking and turning a profit, everyone is happy...unfortunately so are the fraudsters that are making off with the 10% to 25% margin allotted for click fraud.

Does anyone know if an iPhone would work on the moon?

Sure the phone would turn on and all, but good luck getting a signal, unless google's lunar x prize [webmasterworld.com] includes setting up an AT&T cell phone tower with a satellite relay to Earth as one of the 5$ million bonus missions.

Miamacs




msg:3452757
 1:50 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Aw... really? So... it won't work, huh? ... *grin*

one of the 5$ million bonus missions

But I hope they integrate your idea.
Alternatively, hack the iPhone so it could be used with another service.
I have high hopes of Globalstar, perhaps SCC or Intersputnik.
No actually I don't

...

Back on topic, it was their argument that there's less than half fraudulent clicks compared to what others report... that caught my eye. ( you know, the title of the topic says 'overestimated'... ) Neither I nor any sane webmaster questions their efforts, or the reason behind it, I just don't like the way they defend the ... uh... 250% difference between their estimates and others' estimates.

skweb




msg:3452777
 2:08 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wouldn't it be nice to get the data from an entity without a conflict of interest?

centime




msg:3452790
 2:18 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I could never get adwords to work profitably

I wish I could, cos quite a few folk make serious money using it

arieng




msg:3452856
 3:21 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hmmm...maybe they're not worried about the difference in estimates for a completely different reason. Many AdWords advertisers are using Google's Analytics system too, often in conjunction with their own Analytics software. It links directly to your AdWords account and its a great tool for managing your AdWords spend.

We hear so much from the AdSense forum about Smart Pricing. Maybe they are using that model to combat fraud clicks as well as low-quality traffic.

At its most basic, smart pricing discounts the cost of poor quality traffic from the content network. To do this, Google must incorporate conversion data from its advertisers' Analytics accounts. If they are pegging the price of the content network traffic to match some ratio of ROI to their own search engine traffic, then a site with non-converting traffic earns a lot less per click.

At the same time, this model would automatically discount fraud clicks. A site with normal traffic that sends 4 fraud clicks for every 1 real click would end up having its revenue cut by 80%. The revenue would (in theory) be the same as if the publisher had just sent the 1 real click. There would be absolutely no financial benefit to the click fraud.

If Google feels they have perfected the discounting algorithm, they could completely forget about click fraud as a threat. 10%, 25%, it would make absolutely no difference. They would be right, and all the other click auditors would be wrong.

justageek




msg:3452947
 4:48 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

From what I've seen over the years I would say that the number Google says may be close to accurate for click fraud.

The problem that I've always had with Google (and other engines) is that they count clicks for the same person where as most analytic programs do not including their own analytic program.

Is it fraud? Nope. Should we get charged? I don't think so. The most used standard answer from Google every month when we fight for invalid clicks is always the same 'comparison shopper therefore it's a valid click' argument.

JAG

smallcompany




msg:3452959
 4:58 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Is there anyone who successfully gets money back on monthly bases? Many had tried to argument, used third-party tracking, whatever, and yet no credit.

That is the part of Google AdWords’ politics which nobody obviously likes: “Take it or leave it”.

Nobody ever got their confession of mistake (which happen).

justageek




msg:3452976
 5:12 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Is there anyone who successfully gets money back on monthly bases?

Yes. Not easy and never the full amount requested but it does indeed happen.

JAG

Matt Probert




msg:3453057
 6:02 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google would claim click fraud is over estimated, wouldn't they? They are unlikely to say "don't advertise with us, you'll be ripped off!"

Matt

jeffgroovy




msg:3453235
 9:00 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

We hear so much from the AdSense forum about Smart Pricing. Maybe they are using that model to combat fraud clicks as well as low-quality traffic.

I think you're right on the money. If only 1 in 4 clicks from your site is legit, then you can expect to have a much lower EPC then then another site in the same industry with a higher quality traffic. It beats cutting accounts because they'd be cutting themselves from the 25% of your traffic that is quality, and simultaneously prevents your competitors from fraudulent click storms on your sites and getting you cut. I don't know if they determine that by looking at advertisers conversion rates or what, but it seems like that would at least be a part of the equation. I think it makes sense on every level to use smart pricing as a tool combat fraud, and low quality traffic.

davewray




msg:3453427
 2:27 am on Sep 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I would suggest that click fraud would be as high as 40% in some industries, and as low as 0.01% in others. Some industries just attract fraud based on high CPC's..high volume...etc. Overall, everything averaged out over millions of clicks, perhaps it is as low as 5%?

I'm of the thinking that if they are actively trying to contain it, or stop it, then one must for now factor it in as an everyday cost of business. If your ROI isn't measuring up, you drop your bids...and vice versa.

I do have a problem with how they answer controversial questions, as though they are trying to hide something...

smallcompany




msg:3453453
 3:35 am on Sep 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

JAG:


Yes. Not easy and never the full amount requested but it does indeed happen.

Are your claims (to get credit) based on data you gather or you get it back somehow else?

Thanks

skibum




msg:3453460
 3:40 am on Sep 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

It'll be interesting to see how DoubleClick click fraud detection is used if the merger goes through.

justageek




msg:3454004
 4:54 pm on Sep 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Are your claims (to get credit) based on data you gather or you get it back somehow else?

It's on data we've collected and send to Google every month. Basic raw log data.

When there is a big difference between the numbers Google says and what our own tracking says we note the day and such and then send everything at the same time to Google with our reasoning for credit.

I should also mention that we reconcile through the Google API so we know the moment there is a difference. Sometimes it can take days to get the real billable numbers from Google.

JAG

markymark




msg:3454367
 10:55 pm on Sep 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I read the Forbes.com and came away with one major conclusion:

Google in general and Shuman Ghosemajumder specifically are missing the point.

OK, maybe Google are right and click fraud isn't 25% of clicks.

Maybe, as Shuman says, it's only 10-15%.

Here's the thing: if I ran a retail outlet in my town and between 1 in 10 (10%) and 1 in 8 (15%) of people through the door were stealing from me, I'd have the police at my door every single day.

10-15% of clicks being fraudulent is not less of a problem than 25% of clicks being fraudulent. It's the same problem and it's something that needs to be sorted.

The complacency and arrogance shown by Shuman Ghosemajumder in that interview is kinda sickening.

If it's not too much trouble, I'd like 100% of the clicks I get to be fraud free. Telling me that 'only' 1 in 8 clicks is dodgy doesn't really reassure, I'm afraid.

powerstar




msg:3454383
 11:39 pm on Sep 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

10-15% of clicks being fraudulent is not less of a problem than 25% of clicks being fraudulent. It's the same problem and it's something that needs to be sorted.

The complacency and arrogance shown by Shuman Ghosemajumder in that interview is kinda sickening.

If it's not too much trouble, I'd like 100% of the clicks I get to be fraud free. Telling me that 'only' 1 in 8 clicks is dodgy doesn't really reassure, I'm afraid.

Right on...

Google in general and Shuman Ghosemajumder specifically are missing the point.

I dont think they are missing the point they just dont want to see the point. 10% to 25% of your income is a lot of money so they do the best to make nothing out of it

netchicken1




msg:3454430
 1:02 am on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Is this a method you can use to protect yourself over accidental clicks?

Users click on a Google ad on Google.com or an Adsense site. When they land on the advertiser's site, they click on products, hitting the "back" button to go back to the landing page. Many browsers reload the landing page each time. We don't count those as clicks,

So if you accidently click your advert all you have to do is go back to the page with the back button and you know your click will not get indexed?

jeffgroovy




msg:3454466
 2:10 am on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

If it's not too much trouble, I'd like 100% of the clicks I get to be fraud free.

I want that too but it simply is never going to be the case. Consumers don't like to deal with credit card fraud it isn't going away anytime soon. The only fraud proof system for advertisers is commission based not CPC. However with commission only, now publishers are wide open for fraud from advertisers....welcome to the real world where if fraud can happen it most certainly will So until some mad scientist marketing genius figures out how to completely alleviate CPC fraud I've learned to lower my bids when click volume rises and profitability goes down.

King_Fisher




msg:3454524
 3:37 am on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>> click fraud over estimated?<<<

Depending on whose ox is getting gored! 1 to 10 per cent probably is tolerable.

10 to 25 is grand larceny. I don't think that they can be so cavalier about 25

per cent. It hurts the little guys but barely puts a dent in Google's pocket

book....KF

Green_Grass




msg:3454598
 6:16 am on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I suppose the arrogance comes from the fact that they are so so much better than other PPC engines. I have tried third level PPC engines and find rampant click fraud ( mostly bots). I would estimate that I have been defrauded by upto 80% from these so called search engines. MSN and Yahoo are o.k., but frankly I never did try to estimate how much click fraud these guys tolerate, because, I hardly get any traffic from them!

potentialgeek




msg:3454619
 7:03 am on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

> Given that most of Google's $13 billion in revenue comes from clicks on ads

10% fraud rate, by G's POV? Guess that's conservative. Google makes over $1 billion from fraud each year?

p/g

simonmc




msg:3454638
 7:59 am on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

If Google donated that $1billion of stollen money to good causes it would not be such an issue.

The fat cats are lining thier own pockets with our $1billion though so that leaves a sour taste. Sticks in my craw a bit.

The largest theft from a security van was only about £60,000,000 and those thieves were hounded until almost every penny was recovered and the thieves were behind bars.

Enron went down owing less than is being stollen here, Al Capone got banged up for far less. Conrad Black less again.

Some third world countries live on far less than is being stollen here yearly and it's OK because it's not what everyone else says it is.

Perhaps the IRS should tax our click fraud differently too. Why should I pay tax on money that has been stollen from me?

1800envisage




msg:3454667
 8:53 am on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

i think it a croc! i advertise on there and 60 % of the clicks are on the site for 0-30 seconds. if that aint fraud what is!

netchicken1




msg:3454677
 9:09 am on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am saddened by Googles "bullet in the back of the head" approach to click fraud.

I read the google adsense forum sometimes, the front window for their adsense program where people are supposed to recieve help from knowledgeable users.

Some joke.

One disgruntled user has managed to have at least 2 senior members lose their google adsense accounts and others to be accused of click fraud by finding their websites and repeatedly clicking their adverts.

Despite pleas from the suriviving members for help in protecting their accounts Google refused to do anything, stating it was beyond their control - even refusing to just ignore any such attacks on specific sites and reinstate senior members accounts.

As a result the knowledgeable helpers have fled the site leaving only a handful to help, and most requests getting minimal if any help. It was the end of a thriving community.

I sure as heck would not risk my account helping anyone on the site now and would not recommend anyone else helping either.

jeffgroovy




msg:3454896
 1:51 pm on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Netchicken1 you're scaring me. I never knew any of that went down on the adsense forum. I always found webmasterworld to be far more helpful so I've never bothered with the adsense forum. Did you follow the situation you speak of on the adsense forum, or did you read about it somewhere else?

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