Google: Click Fraud Less Than Anticipated

At last Google has declared the click fraud rate and it is no surprise that it is below 0.02 percent of all clicks. It is expected the knives and daggers will be out after such a low rate. Google has not only declared such low rates but has also announced some of the initiatives it is taking to further reduce or eliminate this problem. So, why is the figure less than 0.02 percent of all clicks that pass its filters?

First, we have to understand some of the click fraud terms.

  • Invalid Clicks: Of all the clicks generated Google deems a percentage of it as invalid. These are the clicks on which Google makes no money at all. And since they deem it invalid they do not bill this to the customer and hence there is no question of repayment or refunds.
  • Fraudulent Clicks: These are clicks that are charged to the advertiser and these clicks are done by bots or people who want to make money via an ad program.
  • Overall Fraud Clicks: This is the percentage of overall clicks that are fraudulent. This number is regardless of whether Google refunds or does not bill.
  • Detected Click Fraud: These are detected fraud clicks that Google generates when requested to perform an investigation by the aggrieved advertiser. Google generally calls such clicks “reactively identified invalid clicks”.
  • Undetected Click Fraud Rate: This is the number of clicks (fraudulent) where there is no refund as neither the advertiser nor Google noticed the fraud.

It is quite possible that Google may have a high overall fraud rate. But this is not the real problem if Google can detect these fraud clicks and promptly issue a refund. However, when we talk of Detected click fraud rate— Clicks that go past Google’s filters and for which refunds are only issued when investigation is requested by the advertisers.

As far as the “undetected click fraud rate” is concerned, it difficult to come to a figure as neither the advertiser nor Google is able to identify the fraud. Having said this we can come to a conclusion that if the detected fraud rate is low then the undetected fraud rate too will be low.

Here are some of the measures that Google is contemplating to catch fraud and nip the problem in the bud. This is important as many people would be discussing these issues in the coming days.

  • Proactive Filters: Google keeps a keen eye and throws out the clicks, it deems invalid, without the advertiser bringing it to its notice.
  • Proactive Offline Analysis: This analysis is carried out manually without being requested by the advertiser. This is done especially in the case of websites that use AdSense. This is one reason why advertisers sometimes get credits even when they have not asked for it.
  • Reactive Investigation: This is done when the advertisers approach Google after noticing high charges. Refunds in such cases are rare.

It is assumed that invalid clicks account for less than 10 percent of all clicks. These clicks are not billed and no refunds made. According to Google the overall click fraud rate does fluctuate but is considerably lower.

Some reports have pegged the “detected click fraud rate” close to 15 percent but Google declares that its detected click fraud rate is as low or equal to 0.02 percent of all clicks. When confronted with this anomaly Google contends that close to 10 percent of all clicks are deemed invalid and not billed at all.

Google further states that it also reports all invalid clicks to its advertisers and this number varies from segment to segment. To further augment its defense Google plans to do the following.

  • Advertisers can block IP address which they consider fraudulent
  • More detailed reporting on Google’s part than the present system
  • Improved reporting system: Google intends to collect more information from advertisers that have doubts about fraudulent clicks. The present reporting form will be upgraded.
  • Invalid clicks resource center will have new guidelines to detect and filter fraudulent clicks.

These are some of the measures Google intends to take. Some may agree while some may not; however, do post your comments.

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