Click fraud accounts for less than 0.02% of all clicks according to Google

The search engine giant has released a figure for the amount of fraudulent clicks it fails to detect. In addition, Google plans to provide PPC advertisers with more information on its methods of click fraud detection.

Shuman Ghosemajumder, Google’s business product manager for trust & safety says the company is ‘working to be more transparent and informative on the issues related to click fraud’:

“Recently, this metric has been something advertisers have specifically asked for and we agree that is useful in describing the scope of the problem. Further, it is something we measure and use to monitor the performance of our click fraud detection systems.”

In a post on the Inside AdWords blog, Google gives an overview of its three-stage system for detecting invalid clicks.

The three stages are:

  • Filters – Google watches out for unusual activity and throws out ‘invalid clicks’ before billing its customers. Invalid clicks are not necessarily fraudulent, the figure can include quick double-clicks. This activity accounts for the majority of click fraud detection.
  • Offline Analysis – this is a mixture of automated and manual checks after billing, focused on the AdSense network. As with the filtering, this is done proactively, and advertisers are often refunded after billing.
  • Investigations – These are a response to advertiser complaints and, according to Google, a low proportion of invalid clicks are detected by this method.

Google claims that the fraudulent clicks it proactively detects in the first two stages constitute 10% of all clicks, and the invalid clicks it picks up on after being alerted by advertisers make up only 0.02% of all clicks.

Third party estimates of click fraud rates differ from Google’s. For example, ClickForensics claimed that the click fraud rate for Q4 of 2006 was 14.2%.

In addition to providing greater transparency on the click fraud issue, Google also plans to introduce measures to allow PPC advertisers to prevent specific IP addresses from receiving their ads, to stop rivals wasting ad budgets with repeated clicks.