Google: Stingy with click fraud refunds?

Google stingy with click fraud refunds?
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor on

UPDATE: Why Google click fraud is NOT 0.02% and
Beware Google $1 billion click fraud PR campaign


In “Google and click fraud: As wholesome as milk?” in December and “Click Fraud: Is Google fighting the wrong battle?” last month, I dissected and analyzed Shuman Ghosemajumder’s Power Point slide “proof” purporting to demonstrate how click fraud through Google can not be more than a “fraction of one percent” of activity. 

Ghosemajumder, Business Product Manager for Trust & Safety, takes to the Google AdWords blog once again to evangelize “the significant level of proactive protection we provide,” under the guise of “greater transparency to Google advertisers and the marketplace as a whole.”

As part of our effort to provide you with more information on invalid clicks, we wanted to give you some additional background on how our systems, processes, and teams work together to manage click fraud for our advertisers, while also sharing what the overall landscape of invalid click detection at Google looks like. 

Last September, I spoke with Ghosemajumder to get his direct take on the Google click fraud “landscape” and I reported our discussion in Google ‘gift’ to advertisers: ‘Free’ Google employee clicks.” 

I underscored the inherent non-transparency within Google’s public facing click fraud “landscape,” as I summarize below.


According to Google, its advertisers are charged for “valid clicks,” but not for “invalid clicks.” A straightforward analysis of Google’s accounting for clicks, therefore, ought to start with definitions: What is the definition of a “valid click” and what is the definition of an “invalid click.”

Clarity is difficult to come by, however, as Google often publicly defines the two terms simply in relation to each other.

I asked Google for the definition of an “invalid click.” Google’s base response: “Any click Google doesn’t charge for.” A “valid click,” in Google’s view, therefore, is one that Google charges for.

The headline of Ghosemajumder’s present commentary is telling and once again Google centric: “Invalid Click’s, Google’s overall numbers”

The Google bottom-line public facing message has been and continues to be that there really is no click fraud problem at Google because Google “proactively” identifies “invalid” clicks before they reach advertisers’ billing accounts. Google puts forth that for advertisers, click fraud is really a non-issue, because Google preempts invalid clicks from “impacting” advertisers, much like Google Gmail preempts spam from users’ inboxes.

Unfortunately for Google advertisers, while the array of statistics and theories put forth by Ghosemajumder strive to instill confidence in what Google presents as heroic, and successful, efforts in combating the “impact” of click fraud, such confidence requires blind, unequivocal trust in every Google statement and statistic about Google’s own internal operations.

By Google’s own acknowledgement, advertisers have but a single avenue of recourse to “question” the validity of charges for clicks they deem to be click fraud:

In those cases, an advertiser writes to us, we conduct an investigation, and if we find signs of undetected click fraud, we mark those clicks as invalid and give a refund to the advertiser.

Where is the touted Google transparency on click fraud when it comes to direct advertiser financial “impact”?

Advertisers may dispute Google click charges, but Google, at its sole and secretive discretion, remains the sole and unique arbiter in deciding whether or not advertisers’ claims of invalid click activity are valid, to Google’s satisfaction.

Google proudly declares:

Impact, less than 0.02% of all clicks are reactively detected as invalid. (Only) In the cases of reactively detected invalid clicks, a refund or credit is provided to the advertiser.

Unfortunately, those advertisers that are deemed by Google to NOT have proven “clicks reactively detected as invalid” do NOT receive their requested refunds and have no further recourse for financial satisfaction from Google, except to plead their Google improper billing case before the nation’s legal system.

UPDATE: Why Google click fraud is NOT 0.02% and Beware Google $1 billion click fraud PR campaign 

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