Google bites back!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Google bites back!

With Click Fraud being big in the news, with Google having recently settled a class action lawsuit for $90 million, statistics have been flying around about the actual level of the problem. Several industry expert firms have released data that pegs the problem at over than 30% (fraudulant pay per click ads). Google has pegged the number as much lower than that, and has recently started to open up and let individual advertisers see the percentage of clicks that they have determined to be fraudulent (based on what they don't say). On some of my campaigns I've seen 5-6% of fraudulent clicks, which Google has identified and not charged me for.

But what to do about the disparity between the numbers? The fraud experts have much higher numbers based on the data that they've analysed. Well, Google has the actual data, so they've taken logs submitted to them by users of the top 3 click fraud detection software manufacturers, and Google engineers have analysed them against the actual data. The results are not pretty...

Rigorous technical analysis by Google engineers has found fundamental flaws in the work of several click fraud consultants – flaws that help explain why widely quoted estimates of the size of the click fraud problem are exaggerated. We would like to share this research so that advertisers can be aware of these problems and so these consultants can use the information to improve their services.

...One clear indication that the consultants’ results are flawed: they’re not even getting the total number of clicks correct. We have seen some instances of reports showing 1.5 times the number of clicks in our logs – for example, in one case 1,278 clicks were claimed as being “fraudulent” by the consultant while only 850 actually even appeared as clicks in Google’s logs.

It'll be interesting to see how these click fraud companies respond...


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