Google CPA network: antidote to click fraud?

Will the CPA model present the next battle against "click fraud"?


In “Google goes for the hard sell: New 'Content Referral Network' targets higher click-throughs, ad rates and new GBuy transactions” I discuss Google’s recent testing of a Cost-Per-Action (CPA) Content Referral Network:

The Google AdSense team would like to invite you to test a feature that provides you with a new way to earn revenue from your website by hosting ads that are compensated based on a Cost-Per-Action [CPA] basis. These ads are very different in that you will be able to choose amongst a selection and you will also have more flexibility in promoting them.

Actions referred to in a CPA model include consumer lead generation activities such as customer survey completion or Web site registration, as well as consumer product purchases.

In “Will new Google CPA ads and GBuy online payment system turn the Social Web into a marketplace?” I postulate on how such a Google CPA model might play out:

While Web publisher partners in the Google AdSense network simply display Google ads in a hands-off manner, Web publisher partners in the Content Referral Network are being asked to actively promote the new Cost Per Action (CPA) Google ad units by aggressively soliciting the desired “actions.” In other words, Google Web publisher partners in its Content Referral Network will not receive any payment from Google, unless they are able to convince their Web visitors to both click on the new Google CPA ad units and then complete the targeted transactions, generally product purchases.

Google directly advises its Web publisher partners for its CPA ad units to present the Google ads at their sites with personal solicitations to their Web visitors such as:

• I recommend this product

• Try JetBlue today

The new Google hard-sell strategy will presumably provide an avenue of higher payout opportunities for Web publisher partners.

Many deem a CPA model to be immune to the “click fraud” PPC models are subject to.

Given that a CPA model may yield higher payout opportunities, however, it is unlikely that a nefarious element of society will not diligently explore ways to defraud a CPA network as well.

Google’s prospective Content Referral Network, in fact, has been likened to an affiliate network and affiliate networks have, themselves, been subject to fraudulent activity.

Illicit ways to generate fraudulent revenues in an affiliate network may involve:

  • Multiple Web site registrations/surveys completed under assumed identities
  • Purchases transacted with stolen credit cards

Google may not be committed to a CPA Content Referral Network, however.

In response to a question about Google’s possible move into a CPA model at last week’s Q2 investor conference call, Larry Page, Google Co-Founder and President of Products, said:

I know there's a lot of talk about the CPA, or paying per purchase. One of the issues with that is people look around a lot before they buy something. So it's probably not the only information you want to look at when you're paying for advertising. But we're also excited about using more data like that in our models.

Page seemed to suggest that Google prefers the lucrative upfront PPC model, rather than a more drawn out, and uncertain, CPA model.

Page also suggests, however, that Google is always interested in leveraging user and advertiser data.