There was an interesting article on Forbes last week, which featured Google’s Senior Product Manager Shuman Ghosemajumder talking about the issue.
Google has previously faced legal action from advertisers over the issue, and many third party reports suggest that the click fraud problem is growing. For instance, monitoring firm ClickForensics estimated in July that the overall industry average click fraud rate for the second quarter of the year was 15.8%, up from 14.1% for the same period in 2006.
However, Ghosemajumder believes such reports inflate the numbers of malicious clicks, saying that they are reporting ‘fictitious clicks’, clicks which Google doesn’t count at all.
He gives the example of users clicking on a Google ad, clicking on products on an advertiser’s site, and then using the back button to return to the landing page. Google doesn’t count this reloading on the landing page as a click, but he says that third party auditors often do so.
Ghosemajumder says that Google has learned to recognise peaks in click through rates that may indicate malicious click and such clicks are not charged to advertisers.
He adds that the search engine filters out fewer than 10% of clicks as invalid, and refunds advertiser for less than .02% of clicks, a number that has remained constant.
Another problem for Google regarding click fraud is the perception that Google isn’t too interested in dealing with the issue as they are after all generating revenues from all clicks, valid or invalid.
Ghosemajumder answers this point, saying that there is an incentive for Google to deal with the problem:
“That incentive for us to stop click fraud is actually part of a broader incentive: We’re trying to create the greatest ROI possible for advertisers. That’s what makes us the most competitive in terms of attracting advertisers and competitors. We wouldn’t invest a lot of money improving ROI in one respect, and then let it degrade in another.”