On Monday Andy Beal had a good piece about his talks with a Googler on the topic of click fraud and how they say the actual click fraud that an advertiser sees is %1 or lower.
Now in theory this is great but is it really an accurate statement? I don’t think so and here is why. I am not 100% sure that Google’s invalid click detector works flawlessly. It can’t. And won’t until Google’s sophisticated computer systems can read people’s mind. This less than %1 is the amount of clicks that pass through Google’s system inadvertently and get charge to advertisers but what about the click fraud that their system doesn’t pick-up on? That is the number that everyone wants and the same number I still believe is 10-20%. If I click on an ad with no intent on buying something from the site or performing their preferred action, how does Google know? How does Google know about the guy who runs some mesothelioma sites and war-drives for a few hours each weekend clicking on his $10-20 ads a few hundred times? Sure this is small scale but to think it doesn’t happen at the enterprise level is silly. There are a lot of unethical businesses and business people out there that will do anything to make a buck and put a hurting on their competitors.
So while Google says that click fraud is less than 2% that are misrepresenting what click fraud is to John Q. Customer.
*update* – they have made a statement correction and says now that it is the number of “invalid clicks” rather than pure “click fraud”.