Google Moves to Quell Click Fraud Concerns

NEW YORK Google said it would begin providing reports to advertisers on the number of invalid clicks it filters from their bills. The move is designed to address advertiser concerns over click fraud.

Previously, when Google billed its advertisers, it simply subtracted those clicks it deemed “invalid.” The company will now include additional data on all clicks (even those advertisers were not charged for) and what keywords produced them.

While such data were previously available if advertisers compared their own server logs with Google AdWords reports, the new system will make it easier for less sophisticated marketers, said Shuman Ghosemajumder, a business product manager in Google’s trust and safety unit.

Outsell, a consulting firm, recently estimated click fraud cost advertisers $800 million last year. Ghosemajumder called many click fraud estimates “wildly exaggerated,” but acknowledged they cause some advertisers to question whether they are being properly billed.

“They’re wondering how invalid clicks are affecting their accounts,” he said. “We’re giving them direct transparency.”

While Google asserts that click fraud is not a major problem, the company has moved to settle a $90 million class action lawsuit stemming from the alleged problem. A judge is currently reviewing the terms of the settlement. Last week, as part of the process, an independent auditor released a report that deemed Google’s click fraud “reasonable.”

Ghosemajumder said Google had no plans to release aggregate figures of the number of invalid clicks it filters.

“It’s a very small number of clicks in terms of advertisers writing into us” for refunds, he said.