Click Fraud: Enough, Already

PPC

Ian Lurie Jul 26 2006

Click Fraud hysteria is just that. So please stop stressing about it.

Yes, there are fraudulent clicks. But they don’t matter. OK? Here’s proof:

Google has integrated a nifty little click fraud analysis tool into their Adwords PPC system. I just used it to measure the number of fraudulent ‘invalid clicks’ for our biggest PPC client. This client spends over $50,000 on Adwords, every month.

Total potential cost of fraudulent clicks? $2000. Or 4% of their budget. But Google refunded charges for those costs, automatically. So the cost is zero.

Note: I verified Google’s numbers with my own analysis of the client’s log files, and I got 4-5%.

If you spend $10,000 on a print ad, can you expect that that magazine is reporting it’s readership numbers within 5% accuracy? I don’t think so.

Click fraud is real. I am not minimizing it – we watch for it carefully. But it’s a tiny, tiny problem compared to, say, companies who charge you a hefty fee to check for click fraud.

Related post: Estimating Invalid Clicks

tags : conversation marketing

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2 Comments

  1. Isn’t it more likely that both you and Google spotted the same obviously fraudulent clicks, and the completely unknown number of non-obvious fraudulent clicks is the real problem? Guys who are ripping you off but not dumb enough to do it repeatedly from the same URL or within a few seconds of themselves?
    It’s one thing to say that it’s the cost of doing business, is very difficult to detect, etc. But to buy into the search engine bull that it’s a simple little problem well under control, is just not realistic.

  2. ian

    Hi Craig,
    An excellent point, and I don’t mean to imply we should take the search engines’ statements at face value. I don’t buy in, I promise.
    However, I’ve spent about 4 years watching for click fraud on client accounts. While it does happen, the cost of dealing with it is almost always far higher than the benefit.
    My main point in this post is that we simply have better things to do: Moving up 1 spot in the organic SERPs, or improving ROI by 1%, will probably pay off faster, for less money, and require less work.
    Yet I hear from more and more clients and marketers who devote thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars to this problem. It just doesn’t make sense – the response is disproportionate.
    Hope this makes sense,
    Ian

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