I normally don’t trust reports that are created by companies that just so happen to offer services that alleviate the issues pointed out in the reports. That’s why click fraud has not really been a big concern to me as long as I operated with tier1 search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) I’ve been using PPC for a lot of years and feel the tier1 engines have a lot more to lose by allowing click fraud than they do by implementing procedures to stop it. Tier2 engines are a different story for another post.
Google recently launched click fraud reporting in the adwords interface. It is pretty limited, but it’s a step in the right direction. Hopefully, they will open it up a bit more and allow us to get a bit more granular.
The new click fraud reports by themselves weren’t really postworthy, but Google’s recently released analysis of how third parties track click fraud certainly is. Among key findings about 3rd party cilck fraud audit companies are:
- Failure to properly identify user’s browse behavior vs. actual ad clicks
- Fictitious clicks generated across multiple PPC channels
- Duplicated click activity within fraud reports
- Severely overstated, fictitious clicks
For example, in one particular report from ClickFacts, there were 2261 reported events; however, over 1800 of these were duplicated events. In this same case, ClickFacts reported 6 unique click events and duplicated each one 9 times resulting in 54 “click fraud” events. when Google compared this to their logs, they found only a single click for the entire month from that IP address or search query and a charge of $0.57. Remember these reports come from the company that released widely published reports claiming industrywide 36% click fraud.
ClickFacts response to Google’s challenges was to limit the amount of data they submit to claim click fraud as well as to severely reduce their sample size for click analysis.
Another report from Adwatcher claimed the advertiser received about 12,000 clicks for the month;however, in actuality, the advertiser only received 6,800 clicks, of which 800 were attributed as invalid by Google.
The report was very interesting and an easy read. Of course, if you torture data enough it will surrender whatever you’re looking for, but I don’t believe it’s in Google’s long term interest to profit from click fraud, and as such, I believe they are going to a reasonable length to combat the reality of click fraud.