Could Google be cheating its advertisers?

This is an interesting story about how Google is trying to handle Click Fraud. I’ve included a good quotation or two from the story below. Naturally, I’m pleased that Google is trying to crack click fraud.

PC World – Google Opens Click-Fraud Site

Google Inc. has unveiled a Web site “resource center” focused on the thorny issue of click fraud, which many consider a potential threat to the company’s main source of revenue: pay-per-click advertising.Google developed the new Ad Traffic Quality Resource Center primarily to give its advertisers a single place to find Google’s information about click fraud, said Shuman Ghosemajumder, business product manager for trust and safety at Google, on Friday.

You can visit Google’s Click Fraud Center here.

However, some of the implications here are quite startling (emphasis mine)

“At a basic level, we protect advertisers against click fraud by not charging for suspicious clicks. The intent of a click is difficult to determine with a high degree of scientific accuracy. We therefore create a high false positive rate by marking a much larger number of clicks as invalid compared to the number of clicks we believe to be generated with bad intent.”

“Undoubtedly, there will be some instances of click fraud which will go undetected by our proactive systems and processes. By casting the net of invalid clicks wide enough, however, we are able to effectively minimize that proportion.”

So we have to ask: Could Google be screwing its legitimate publishers?


There are likely a number of ways that this could be the case:

  • False positives mean exactly – the clicks were genuine but because of Google’s algorhithms they were in fact identified as fraudulent. Naturally, the advertisers benefit because they get visitors to their websites for free.

  • The number of legitimate websites and blogs now accused of click fraud is getting longer and longer: including Kumiko Suzuki’s blog, LegalAndrew (reinstated), etc.

  • The lack of external assessment and objective rulings, indeed even the lack of transparency, all suggest that there are HUGE problems with the way Google is handling “click fraud” from the point of view of the smaller publishers.

  • Rates are declining anyway for clicks, in some cases a click generates only 1c or 2c. Though over 100,000 impressions, this could be a generous $50! If you’re generating that number of impressions per month, you’ve probably got decent traffic.

So it’s no wonder, as John Chow has done, that bloggers are beginning to ditch Adsense for other revenue streams that are less stressful: sponsored reviews, affiliate linking, text linking, etc., to name but a few. IN fact, it’s not a good idea to put your entire stock in Google Adsense! In fact, this month, John Chow entirely ditched Adsense because of its poor performance on his blog.

Further Reading:

The nonsense about AdSense: The Times Online.
Banned from Google Adsense – Lost $200,000

How are you monetizing your blog? Have you had problems with Adsense fraud? Do you even bother with Adsense? Let’s hear it!

Disclaimer: InvestorBlogger does use Adsense in this website, but is seriously considering removing it.