Google Downplays Third-Party Click Fraud Estimates

Inplace #2

Google claims it has discovered some key flaws in the way that third-party research firms have been estimating click fraud statistics, and as a result, the dire click fraud numbers we’ve all been seeing are exaggerated. Apparently, third-party click fraud reports record data from what Google calls “fictitious clicks,” clicks that are reported as fraudulent, but never get detected or charged by Google.

“We have seen some instances of reports showing 1.5 times the number of clicks in our logs – for example, in one case 1,278 clicks were claimed as being “fraudulent” by the consultant while only 850 actually even appeared as clicks in GoogleÂ’s logs,” wrote a member of the Google AdWords team on the official AdWords blog.

Google says that many research companies don’t count actual clicks, but estimate the number of clicks by other factors like the number of repeated page loads, which can simply be the result of a user hitting the back button on their browser or visiting the advertiser’s site multiple times. Google also says that research companies that use cookies to track users may actually attribute clicks that are made on ads for one network to another. In other words, if a user clicks on a Yahoo ad, the click may be attributed to a click on a Google ad.

For the report, Google examined three auditing firms that represented reports sent to it by advertisers: AdWatcher, ClickFacts, and Click Forensics. Google said it would work with click auditing firms to help make their reports more accurate.