Where does click fraud come from? How does Google protect against it?
No one knows better than Shuman Ghosemajumder, Business Product Manager Trust & Safety.
What are the latest Google initiatives on the click fraud front?
I met with Ghosemajumder in New York City yesterday to find out.
According to Ghosemajumder, there are two main “incentives” behind malicious click fraud activity at Google and five key ways such activity manifests:
What is “click fraud” to Google? “Clicks on AdWords campaigns made with malicious or fraudulent intent,” Ghosemajumder said.
Main Click Fraud Incentives
Advertiser attacks at Google.com
Affiliate inflation via AdSense
Representative Click Fraud Methods
“Invalid clicks,” in Google nomenclature, are clicks Google decides not to charge for.
Ghosemajumder told me the Google philosophy is to “cast the net of invalid clicks wide enough” so that Google has a high degree of confidence that the actual malicious clicks are caught.
Ghosemajumder described how Google detects invalid clicks via a three prong system employing both proactive and reactive methods:
1) Proactive automated algorithm analysis of all clicks to filter out invalid clicks in real-time.
2) Proactive offline manual analysis of the AdSense network.
3) Reactive investigations in response to advertiser click inquiries.
According to Ghosemajumder, the “vast majority “of click fraud and/or invalid click detection occurs during automated filtering. Reactive Google investigations are “relatively rare,” he said.
Since 2002, the percent of clicks designated by Google as “invalid” has been less than 10%,” Ghosemajumder indicated.
In addition to its proactive and reactive invalid click and click fraud detection processes, Ghosemajumder said there are many “features” unique to Google providing advertisers with greater efficiency, control and reporting:
SmartPricing, introduced in 2005
AdWords Auto-Tagging, introduced in 2005
Site Targeting/Site Exclusion, introduced in 2005
Invalid Clicks Reporting, introduced in 2006
To be launched in Q2, 2007:
A Google online Invalid Clicks Resource Center will be launched in Q2, 2007 aimed at providing open access to educational resources.
On May 2, Google will host an “Invalid Clicks Advertiser Forum” all day event to present Google best practices and encourage advertiser interaction and feedback. Google has sent out invitations to about 200 advertisers.
Where does Google stand on the click fraud audit front?
Ghosemajumder confirmed to me that as one of the founding members of the IAB’s industry-wide Click Measurement Working Group, Google is working hard to drive a consensus on audits that will “mean something.”
As a matter of fact, Ghosemajumder told me he will be working with the group today!