Concerned about Click Fraud? Google says “Don’t Worry”

By Bartley McGowan | Feb 22, 2007
More Articles by Bartley


We’ve all read the varying statistics on click fraud and it’s tough to decide what to believe. The numbers have fluctuated wildly, with studies from 2004 estimating that nearly 50% of clicks could be fraud to a very recent one done by IncreMental Advantage suggested that the amount is closer to only 5%. Google only tells us that the number of invalid clicks they filter out is less than 10% of total clicks.

In an effort to get to the bottom of it all, I tuned in to a Webinar conducted by SEMPO today that was led by Shuman Ghosemajumder who is the Business Product Manager for Trust and Safety at Google. A lot of the seminar was basic and covered the techniques used by fraudsters, etc. but Shuman did offer some tips on how businesses can look out for click fraud.

Shuman feels that that most businesses don’t need to worry about it. I guess that can make us all sleep a little bit better, but here are four basic steps that businesses should be taking to cover their bases.

1) Track campaign performance carefully
- use conversion tracking
- monitor real ROI on a fine-grained basis

2) Use auto-tagging for any click analysis
- perform basic cross checks for beginning data analysis
- remember that your total clicks = valid clicks plus invalid clicks

3) Become familiar with click fraud false positives
- misdiagnosing proxies, account changes (broadening target of campaigns, etc), traffic fluctuations

4) Report any suspicious activity for investigation

It should be noted that step #4 makes up a very small percentage of the invalid clicks that Google does not charge advertisers for. What I mean by that is that the majority of the clicks that advertisers are not getting charged for are already detected by Google through their automated filters and offline analysis.

So, is click fraud something you need to worry about? Google says you probably don’t, but I’d follow the simple steps above and keep tabs on it.

You can also check out this Click Quality Team’s blog to see their answers for some common concerns. Here is the link: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/02/meet-click-quality-team.html

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