Google AdWords & AdSense Pay Per Click Fraud Detection

Just heard the latest news on Google PPC Click Fraud Detection and Prevention. Click Forensics announced that Google will be accepting click-quality e-reports generated by the Click Forensics’ Fully Automated Click Tracking Recognition (FACTr). This means that Google AdWords advertisers can now submit click fraud reports to Google in an automated fashion through FACTr click fraud auditing service.

Click Fraud Definition
Click fraud is a type of Internet fraud that occurs in pay per click search advertising (e.g., Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing – previously Overture) when an individual, a group of people or an automated script (click bot) imitates a legitimate user by clicking on an ad, for the purpose of generating a charge per click without having any interest in the offer advertised in the clicked ad.

Types of Click Fraud

a publisher may try to profit from AdSense ads being clicked.

Competitors of advertisers: A competitor may wish to harm another competitor who advertises in the same market by clicking on their ads on Google, Yahoo or their content networks. The objective here is to increase the cost to competitor as advertiser has to pay for irrelevant clicks. This could potentially cause the competitors ads go dark if their budget is limited.

Competitors of publishers: A publisher’s competitor may want to terminate the relationship between the publisher and the pay per click programs by making it look like the publisher is clicking on its own ads to generate revenue. The objective is to dry the AdSense source of revenue for competing publishers.

Click Fraud Detection & Tracking
Pay per Click advertising networks such as Google AdWords or Yahoo try to put fraud prevention technologies into place to prevent click fraud by all parties; however, it is difficult to detect which clicks are legitimate and which ones are fraudulent.

Click fraud – or invalid clicks as Google likes to call it – is not and should not be liked by any parties. Advertisers do not want to spend their valuable marketing dollars for invalid or fraudulent clicks. Publishers resent having to pay refunds for clicks that are not initiated by them. Google and other search engines, even though could have short term monetary gains, are also trying to stop click fraud as it could diminish their revenue in the long term if advertisers lose faith in the pay per click system.

That is why search engines are trying to build click fraud detection and prevention software and reporting systems that help track possible invalid clicks and reimburse advertisers for the invalid clicks.

The pay-per-click industry has been lobbying for tighter laws on the click fraud issue. Some companies have developed software for click fraud tracking and detection and are developing relationships with advertising networks. Such solutions fall into two categories:

Analysis of advertisers’ web logs – The first approach is the process of analysis of the advertiser’s web logs to get an in-depth insight of the source and behaviour of the traffic in order to detect the potential click fraud. The limitation of this approach is that it relies solely on the honesty of the middlemen in detecting click fraud.

Third-party click fraud management services – Third parties such as Click Forensics offer web-based solutions (utilizing single-pixel images, JavaScript or cookies). The objective is to highlight suspicious clicks. However, the problem with third-party solutions is that such solutions see only part of the traffic of the entire network. Hence, they can be less likely to identify click fraud patterns that span several advertisers by click bots. In addition, search engines claim that the third party click fraud management services can be overly aggressive when judging traffic to be fraud.

Click Fraud Rates
Depending on who reports on it, click fraud rate can vary. Google claims that on average less than 2% of all clicks through Google’s systems are click frauds whereas some of click fraud management companies report click fraud rates as high as 20%.

Definition of Click Fraud Rate by Google

Google believes that the majority of invalid clicks are already detected through their automatic and manual click fraud detection technology and team.

Click Fraud Detection and Prevention by Google

The Future of Click Fraud
The good news is search engines are becoming more transparent and now seems to be ready to cooperate with third party click fraud auditing service providers such as Click Forensics. They are also working with other companies to establish industry standards for click fraud protection: Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Click Measurement Working Group.

Nima Asrar Haghighi, SEM Expert

Filed Under: PPC AdvertisingSearch Engine MarketingSEM


About the Author

Nima Asrar Haghighi is an Internet Marketing consultant with expertise in SEM (PPC Advertising), Organic SEO, RSS, Social Media and Web Analytics (Google Analytics IQ Certified). Nima holds an MBA in marketing, B.Eng. in Electrical Engineering, Project Management Certification, and CIW (Certified Internet Webmaster) in E-commerce. You can reach Nima at +Google Plus or LinkedIn.

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  1. […] to get rendered • Invalid Clicks and Click Fraud – As I mentioned in my previous post on click fraud, search engines, in order to keep the integrity of their systems, try to eliminate invalid clicks […]

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