Know Your Clicks, Google Says

Click fraud isn't every invalid click on an ad

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Advertising clients who feed Google’s revenue machine may not always know the difference between an illicit click and one that’s outright fraudulent. Google wants them to understand which is which.

Ultimately, the online PPC advertising model depends on trust. The promise of having one’s ad budget matched to relevant viewers who click through, giving the ad network a bit of revenue each time.

The model breaks down when someone games the system. An advertiser who sees lots of clicks and minimal conversions will be ready to believe the worst of PPC; some will go so far as to file lawsuits, as Arkansas-based Lane’s Gifts did against several big names in recent years, claiming injury from click fraud.

Not every non-performing click is an attempt to defraud the advertiser. In a recent discussion at the Google AdSense blog, Google discussed the issue from the perspective of the site publisher who may carry the company’s ad placements on their sites for revenue generation.

It’s important to consider that not every click happens for the same reason, and not always for a malicious reason either. People misclick, double-click, simply out of carelessness or clumsiness. Google claims to know how to recognize these. Advertisers are not charged, and thus site publishers hosting those ads don’t make money on the click-through.

“We’d like to stress that invalid clicks are generally any clicks that artificially inflate advertiser cost or publisher revenue, regardless of their source,” Google noted. Within that group comes a subset of activity referred to as click fraud.

It can come from several sources, like a publisher manually clicking on the ads on display, or having others do so themselves or with automated software. Sites pulling in clicks that look like click fraud may fall out of favor with a Google or any other ad network seeing such activity.

Some clicks are not good ones, but not all bad ones hold malicious intent. That’s the basic difference between an illicit click and a fraudulent one.

Know Your Clicks, Google Says
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  • http://www.freewarebb.com/ FreewareBB

    I’ve been running Google Ads for a while now on our site and there are more theories out there on this subject than the X-Files.   The truth of the matter simply is that Google most probably have invested a great deal of time, effort and money into this programme and although we hear horror stories about publishers being banned for no reason, there’s often no smoke without fire.   The fear of a rival purposely clicking your ads in an effort to have your ad account banned obviously doesn’t work, as if it did I think we’d all have been the subject of this at some point or another.

    The only concern I have regarding google ads is the trust we must put into google and rely on THEIR honesty in paying us for clicks received which to be honest is doubtful.   It’s not surprising that we have these doubts when the adsense pages dissapear randomly and without warning while at the same time the ads still appear on our sites.

    Saturday past was an example of such when I lost complete access to google adsense all day and when it came back up I had barely received double figures in clicks yet the ads were always there.   Google is still by far the most lucrative of PPC advertisers although it’s becoming harder to swallow the low click prices and drop-outs and for some it’s hardly worth the effort of having these ads on their site- what happens then?

    • Roger

      Saturday past was an example of such when I lost complete access to google adsense all day and when it came back up I had barely received double figures in clicks yet the ads were always there. 

      Google run an engineers test or something similar every 3 or 4 Saturdays, it’s a pain, and when adsense is up and running again it takes a few hours for the figures to catch up, but they do in the end.



  • http://www.hickorytree.net Karen

    I used to click on Google ads all the time, they are a great way to find new interesting sites. Now I’ve been building web sites and putting Google ads on them so now I don’t click on the Google ads from any site for fear of Google thinking they are not legitimate clicks because I have ads of my own now.

    I have by accident while building  or updating a site or visiting my own site clicked on one of my own Google ads, I try to be careful not to do that but at times it happens before I realize it. I try to shut the window right away when that happens. I have a touch pad instead of a mouse on my lap top and the curser just happens to land on one of the ad links and while trying to move the curser I inadvertently end up clicking it. My editor doesn’t show the ads while I’m building the pages except in the preview window so I don’t realize the ads are there sometimes while I’m in the normal building mode then when I change windows there’s my curser on the ad. I’m not sure what they might think when the click comes from my computer instead of from my site but they must realize that happens sometimes.

    I’m glad Google can tell the difference  between real clicks and accidental clicks I’ve never been warned about it but I hold my breath when it happens.  Then I try to be extra careful and I try avoid going to my own site to check on them. But one of my sites is a forum and another one has an article submitter so I have to visit them on a regular bases. I get a lot of traffic at my forum ( for me 800 unique a month is a lot ) but I hardly get any clicks there. Seems like different ones of my sites do better at different times. I don’t see any kind of an "average" I might get 600 impression and 1 click or 400 impression and 15 clicks on another site.  It just seems pretty hit or miss weather I make any thing or not.

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