Click Fraud: Enough, Already

Ian Lurie

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:

click fraud

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

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  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. 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,

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