Archive for Google

The fraud about Click Fraud

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.


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Google checkout conversion tracking

Here’s Google’s email reply to a request for Conversion Tracking with Google checkout:

…As for persisting analytics tracking, that’s something that isn’t possible with the way Checkout currently works.  However, we’ve heard loud and clear from many merchants that this is something that we need to somehow enable.  We have nothing to announce at this time, but we’re working on some things to address this particular problem…

Hopefully sooner, rather than later.

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My experience using Google Checkout as a merchant

One thing that has changed is the new Google Checkout. We’ve been working with GC (Gbuy as it was known in beta) for a while now. I really like the UI for the customer experience. Checkout is easy and pretty much painless.

On our backend, it is pretty straightforward and foolproof. Just a series of XML passing back and forth between us and Google updating the order status and injecting orders into our backend.

It has a lot more legs than MS Passport and I think it will prove to be a value add for Ecommerce in general, and particularly the consumer.

Having said all that, here are my issues:
Once a customer places an order, there is no way to edit the order. If the customer requests expedited shipping after the order was placed, you have to either give it (expedited shipping) away at no additional charge, or cancel the order and reprocess it in your internal order management system.

When an order is placed by the customer, their credit card/debit card is authorized to ensure available funds, and to hold such available funds. If the order is not charged within 3 days, Google will re-authorize the card and then capture the funds, resulting in 2 auths and a capture. This presents problems for debit card owners over weekends and holidays. Google stated that they are working on this to extend the timeframe for re-auth.

Orders tend to get in a state of “reviewing”, meaning the funds have not been authorized and the merchant cannot process the order, quite often. It seems these orders are being subject to a manual review. Based on customer feedback, I think this happens more often when the original auth fails and the customer has to go back and edit the credit card information.

Google has a Payment Guarantee Policy that should cover fraud as Google performs the AVS and CVN matches and doesn’t give the merchant any additional billing information. Some orders have a full match on the AVS and CVN, but Google still denies their eligibility for the Payment Guarantee Policy.

From Google:

“Google relies on a variety of proprietary systems–including internal data sources and advanced risk modeling–to evaluate the risk levels associated with transactions. If the risk level for a particular transaction is too high, Google will not cover the transaction under the Payment Guarantee Policy.”

These orders are still covered under the Chargeback Resolution Policy, but that does not guarantee you will receive your funds back for chargebacks.

The last drawback I’ll talk about, and it is big, is that there is no way to persist your website metrics through checkout. We use Omniture analytics and there is no way to report that a visitor that used Google checkout completed a transaction. There’s not even a way to use Google adwords conversion tracking in Google checkout. This results in a low conversion rate whereby, we have to do manual ‘cipherin’ to figure out the true conversion. I hope Google allows us to place code on the “thank you” page in the near future as this is a real pain in the ass.

Overall though, I think the product is great. Although it may be in beta for the next 3-5 years, they’ve already made some strong improvements to the product. I have high hopes for the future.

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Google Adwords Dayparting – Live

Google finally launched dayparting which can be a very effective measure for cost savings and improved ROI.

Be careful when implementing as you may decide that since sales are slack during a certain time of the day that your ads should be turned off during those hours, when those clicks could actually lead to sales during a repeat visit during a different time of day. Ensure that your analytics package is tracking the time of the click and not just the time of the sale to ensure you're dayparting most efficiently. I use Omniture Sitecatalyst as well as Google conversion tracking. Out of the box, Omniture doesn't tag the visit with the time of day, so I use a custom metric to assign the hour of day, 21:00 for example, and measure the revenue/conversion rate per keyword off of that metric.

Adwords Dayparting

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Google finally launches Picasa Web for online photos

I do love Riya, but Picasa has been my application of choice to organize my thousands of digital photos on my home computer. I've always wished I could see those photos from the web, either from my office, or to share with remote family.

Google finally "webalized" Picasa. It's about time. They only offer 250 megs of storage free with an option to upgrade to 6 gigs for $25/yr, and the application is still in limited, invitation only, testing. Philipp Lenssen notes that there is no such thing as a private album, just public and "unlisted". Album titles are appended to the URL of a user's "homepage" so others can merely guess at album titles such as "untitledalbum" and discover your hidden albums. Keep that in mind when uploading photos.

Aside from the privacy implications, it is a very welcome addition to the Google portfolio. link to Picasa Web

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Google AdWords Feedback Buttons

Thanks to Philipp Lenssen at Google Blogoscoped (who received from James Boulter), Google is testing feedback buttons on Google Adwords.

I don't see consumers saying this "link was helpful" because by the time they discover that, they are already on the advertiser's website and hopefully, completing a transaction. I see this as a collecting negative feedback only, which isn't so bad either. This ends up as a tool for Google to penalize those with poor relevancy which indirectly benefits those with marginal or good relevancy.

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Dayparting Google AdWords – Coming Soon

Posted at the Search Engine Watch blog…

New Google AdWords Dayparting & Ad Scheduling Coming
The new features will allow advertisers to schedule the ads to show on weekends or weekdays only, or on other set days the advertiser specifies. Dayparting is also included allowing advertisers to schedule their ads during specific hours, such as to run late at night or at lunchtime only.

Internet Retailer recently reported the value of dayparting over here at and the addition to the Google UI will be very welcome. As Jennifer says, it's a move to catch up to Microsoft adCenter's dayparting and demographic targeting options.

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