Google on commitment to click fraud audits: no specifics, no timeframe

Google on commitment to click fraud audits: no specifics, no timeframe

Summary: Google is disingenuous in inferring the IAB can commit on Google’s behalf to a Google submission to "third party independent auditing, for click fraud, of Google charges to its advertisers."

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I asked Google during a public Q & A at an industry event August 8 if the company would “commit not only to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) ‘Click Measurement Guidelines,’ but to the IAB ‘independent auditing against the complete guidelines’ recommendations as well.” I report on Google’s public response to my question in my August 8 story “Click Fraud Breaking News: Google, Yahoo agreee to independent click fraud audits”:

At this morning’s 'Auditing Paid Listings & Click Fraud Issues' SES panel, Yahoo and Google reiterated their support for IAB’s "Click Measurement Guidelines"…

During the Q & A, I asked Yahoo and Google if they would commit not only to the IAB 'Click Measurement Guidelines,' but to the IAB 'independent auditing against the complete guidelines' recommendations as well…

Both John Slade, Yahoo, and Shuman Ghosemajumder, Google, committed to accept third party independent click fraud audits. When I asked for a timeline for initiating the third party independent click fraud audits, John Slade indicated such audits would follow the development of the Click Measurement Guidelines.

I have subsequently asked Google to provide specifics on "third party independent auditing, for click fraud, of Google charges to its advertisers" that it commits to, as well as to provide a date when such auditing will commence.

The Google response I received, from Steve Langdon, is the paragraph below, via email:

I've pasted below a couple of links, one is to our blog about joining the IAB effort, which is what Shuman was referring to, and the second is the IAB press release. The IAB is coordinating this effort, so they are probably best to answer your questions about timing and specifics. Hope this helps.

How can “Google Speak” be translated?

1) GOOGLE HAS NOT DENIED its public commitment to implement the independent auditing recommendations that the IAB’s Click Measurement Working Group intends to formulate in conjunction with its formulation of Click Measurement Guidelines.

2) GOOGLE HAS NOT RECONFIRMED its public commitment to implement the independent auditing recommendations that the IAB’s Click Measurement Working Group intends to formulate in conjunction with its formulation of Click Measurement Guidelines.

3) GOOGLE IS DISINGENUOUS in inferring the IAB can commit on Google’s behalf to a Google submission to "third party independent auditing, for click fraud, of Google charges to its advertisers."

Here are key excerpts of the IAB press release:

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) today announced that they are forming an industry-wide Click Measurement Working Group to create a set of Click Measurement Guidelines. These Guidelines, a joint effort with the Media Rating Council (MRC), will provide the detailed definition of a "click" and the standard against which clicks are measured and counted including the identification of invalid clicks and/or fraudulent clicks…

The Click Measurement Guidelines will also outline an industry driven auditing and certification recommendation for any organization involved in performance based marketing like search engines, ad networks, third party ad servers or any company that counts clicks as a part of the media currency…

George Ivie, Executive Director and CEO, Media Rating Council, said ‘Agencies and marketers should feel assured that the Interactive industry is striving for increased reliability and consistency through the guideline-setting process and through their support for audits.’

The establishment of these guidelines will provide marketers with a standard for the consistent and reliable measurement of their performance based marketing. Independent auditing against the complete guidelines should provide advertisers with added security for their internet advertising investment and further solidify the increased level of accountability and transparency already established by this medium.

According to the IAB press release, it will be up to member companies to decide whether, or not, to implement IAB’s recommended “independent auditing against the complete guidelines.” It is for that reason that I asked Google to confirm that it would, in fact, implement IAB’s recommended “independent auditing against the complete guidelines.”

The official Google blog quotes Ghosemajumder:

we're participating in the Industry-wide Click Measurement Working Group. The effort is coordinated by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Media Rating Council (MRC) with a goal of developing 'a detailed definition of a 'click' and the standard against which clicks are measured and counted including the identification of invalid clicks and/or fraudulent clicks.'

A literal reading of Ghosemajumder at the Google blog indicates that Google is not actually committing to anything, certainly not to "third party independent auditing, for click fraud, of Google charges to its advertisers."

Ghosemajumder responded otherwise, however, August 8, when I asked him if Google would “commit not only to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) ‘Click Measurement Guidelines,’ but to the IAB ‘independent auditing against the complete guidelines’ recommendations as well.”

PART II, YAHOO: Google, Yahoo on click fraud audits: look to the IAB

UPDATE: Google, Yahoo click fraud audits: When will advertisers demand them?

MORE ON CLICK FRAUD

Topic: Google

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