Google says internal study raises questions about click fraud audits

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Aug. 9 San Jose, Calif.—Amid growing concern and ongoing debate concerning click fraud in pay-per-click advertising, a Google executive said Tuesday that the search engine has conducted an internal study that challenges the effectiveness of systems employed by third-party click fraud auditors.

During a panel discussion on click fraud at the Search Engine Strategies Conference, Shuman Ghosemajumder, Google business product manager, trust and safety, said he has grown increasingly concerned about flaws he sees in click fraud auditing reports, which routinely contain requests for refunds from advertisers. “We continue to identify numerous flaws in these reports,” Ghosemajumder said.

His announcement about the study, which he said examined data from auditing companies Click Facts, Click Forensics and Adwatcher, took fellow panelists by surprise.

Other panelists took issue with the flawed data claims and with being surprised by the Google report.

“It would have been great if you shared that data with us in advance,” said Lori Weiman, director of KeywordMax, a company that handles search campaign management, including auditing.

In an interview after the session, Jessie Stricchiola, founder of Alchemist Media, a search engine marketing company, said, “The general consensus is the context in which Google presented that report was unprofessional and counter-productive to our moving forward as an industry.”

All of the panelists said they applauded the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s announcement last week that it is working with the search marketing industry to come up with standards for identifying click fraud.

“I think it is important, and everyone is excited about the IAB effort,” Weiman said. “There are no standards. We need to come up with solid methodologies.”

John Slade, senior director of global product management for Yahoo! Search Marketing, said, “A lot of people [are] trying to do the right thing … the important thing is to get the standards published.”

—Carol Krol

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