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How Google Manages Click Fraud 130

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the making-advertisers-warm-and-happy dept.
Finin writes "In February 2005, Google was sued by Lane's Gifts & Collectibles in a class-action lawsuit over click fraud. The company alleged that Google had been improperly billing for pay-per-click ads that were not viewed by legitimate potential customers. As part of a settlement earlier this year, Google agreed to have an independent expert examine their click fraud detection methods, policies, and procedures and make a determination of whether or not they were reasonable measures to protect advertisers. The report of the expert, NYU Information Systems Professor Alexander Tuzhilin (a Professor of Information Systems at NYU), is now available." Update 07/26/2006 at 12:52 GMT by SM: Fixed the link to Tuzhilin's report.
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How Google Manages Click Fraud

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  • real link to report (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @07:48AM (#15782828)
    this is the correct link, the other one is just legal blahblah:

    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/pdf/Tuzhilin_Report .pdf [blogspot.com]
    • ... and the reports states that the fake click detection mechanism is reasonably handled by the google "CLick Quality Team".
    • by DeadSea (69598) * on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @07:59AM (#15782855) Homepage Journal
      For anyone interested in reading the findings without having to wade through it all, then go to page 36 and start with section 9.3 where a little further on it also refers to account terminations and how this occurs, section 9.6 is the bit that I guess most may be interested in...you never know, you may then decide to read it all

      - OptiRex [webmasterworld.com]

    • And the conclusion? (Score:3, Informative)

      by blorg (726186)
      I conclude that Googles efforts to combat click fraud are reasonable.

      Maybe should have been in the summary. The document is also fascinating account of how they go about it however.
  • by DeadSea (69598) * on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @07:50AM (#15782833) Homepage Journal
    Google is (as of yesterday) now showing statistics about how many invalid clicks an adwords account has recieved. You can read all about it in the adwords blog [blogspot.com]
    • Now this seems like a damn stupid idea to me. Say I'm trying to discover methods to click fraud my competitors or perhaps come up with automated software to sell. I can now use a dummy account with Google using search terms no one would hit and test different methods of fraud while getting feedback on which methods trip their detection.

      Jonah HEX
      • While it's true that revealing too many information is an information security problem, they are in a position that most advertisers believe that Google AdWords has more invalid clicks than other competitors. They have to prove (or at least, show) something to keep customers.
        • While I understand that the customers want info about invalid clicks, in this case I think they are shooting themselves in the foot. Security through secrecy has always been a hot topic, but in some cases it definitely has an advantage. Customers will not be pleased if click fraud increases as a result of this, and Google will possibly have to move faster and with more resources to shore up their fraud detection (not too bad for customers but could be bad for Google with the bad PR, etc).

          Jonah HEX
      • Simple solution... Delay the data by a random time. At one attempt per minute you could find 'working' fraud methods pretty easily, but if you had to wait 4 days between each attempt then it becomes infeasible.
        • While that possibility did occur to me, there is also these issues:
          Giving the customer recent data, preferably not more than 48 hours old. Most people will expect near real time statistics from Google on this one.
          Using multiple accounts to test many methods, thus allowing many attacks to be checked while making any delay between attack/statistics less of an issue.

          Jonah HEX
      • by Anonymous Coward
        No. If you're committing click fraud on your own account, you already know how many clicks you're causing and how many are reported in your AdWords report (fraudulent clicks are already excluded), so the "fraudulent clicks" column doesn't give you any additional information.
  • Enron (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @07:51AM (#15782834) Journal
    If ad-sense is its major source of money, and it keeps the underlying numbers pretty well buried, could we be looking at another Enron? Imagine it comes out that 90% of all clicks are fraudulent. How many advertizers leave? How badlu does the stock drop? This is one of the things that makes me nervous about Google as an investment. Remember, Enron was loved by Wall Street too. Enron did not produce anything physical either. Enron reported great numbers. Underlying numbers were hidden away.

    How is Google diferent that the big "E"?
    • Enron was loved by Wall Street too.

      Wall street hates google.

      How is Google diferent that the big "E"?

      Enron was deliberately fraudulent. Google (to our knowledge) is not.
      • For starters, Google as an investment isn't exactly loved by Wall Street it's P/E ratio of 57.09 is despised, especially in the slowing U.S. economy. When it comes to click fraud, I would say from personal experience that they [Google] are very strict in their policies. If you want to see click fraud at it's highest with little policy enforement look no further than Yahoo!s Publisher program...here [qoogle.com] is an example of click promotion with Yahoo!'s program.
    • Re:Enron (Score:5, Funny)

      by Zaphod2016 (971897) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @08:04AM (#15782871) Homepage

      How is Google diferent that the big "E"?

      Branding. For example, Google's famous motto is: "don't be evil". If memory serves, Enron's less-famous motto was: "Ken Lay needs a new boat".

      • Re:Enron (Score:3, Informative)

        by jackbird (721605)
        Ironically, Enron's motto was actually "ask why."
        • Well, consider that their standard response was: "You are too stupid to understand. Of course it is perfectly legal. Shut up and give us your money."
        • Actually,

          I believe the correct and revised motto was

          "Ask Why .... A**hole"

          This was after Skillings lost it in an investor call where an analyst questioned his earnings and called him that.

          It became the unofficial slogan of the company after that.

          Ironically enough,

          This slogan also fits quite nicely for Slashdot.
      • I'm gonna click me a new minivan :)
      • "Larry and Brin need California king size beds on their plane"

        From WSJ "Lawsuits Fly Over Google Founders' Big Private Plane"

        Mr. Jennings says Messrs. Brin and Page "had some strange requests," including hammocks hung from the ceiling of the plane. At one point he witnessed a dispute between them over whether Mr. Brin should have a "California king" size bed, he says. Mr. Jennings says Mr. Schmidt stepped in to resolve that by saying, "Sergey, you can have whatever bed you want in your room; Larry, you

    • Re:Enron (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GundamFan (848341)
      There is no way of knowing for sure but Google does produce things (like gmail and gcalender) and is not simply a black hole that money comes out of (how investment profesonals fall for that I will never know). I know that I trust a company that doesn't hinge there busness model on energy futures trading (what is that anyway?) more than one who's busness I understand (essentaly advertising).
      • Energy futures trading is like selling an insurance policy. It's really no more risky than investing in say, Allstate or Geiko. Both involve trading instruments in future risk.

        I agree you shouldn't invest in something you don't understand. But I don't think there's an inherent flaw in investing in a company involved in futures trading.
      • there simply has to be a time in google's future when they will stop throwing money at flashy rounded-corners web2.x apps, and try squeasing money out of their plethora of experiments.

        In regards to gmail, besides leading the way with "new approach blahblah", and many innovations like coloured conversations and advanced search options, what is the real business model behind it? Don't tell me that the adsense box on the right gets any click.
        • Re:google future (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mstone (8523)
          Why? Google already has a solid and profitable business model.

          The additional projects are just R&D with a very public face. They offer great brand exposure. They give Google's software team lots of experience dealing with the realities of building and maintaining software that thousands to millions of people use every day. They keep the company from developing tunnel vision. And in some cases they've put Microsoft on the defensive, so it has to spend time and resources defending its own markets rat
          • your explanations sound good, and if it were just R&D that could mature into some unknown-yet business things are indeed great. If google were a treee, besides getting more experience, the engineers get more and more work into various areas; therefore the branches of this tree tend to consume more of its initial power. Now we are whitnessing the tree growth, which is admirable, but later on it'll be the laws of nature speaking. Then it's the entire tree that either collapses or stagnates; unless bad bra
      • Energy future trading is about trying to figure out how much energy will cost in a week, month, year even longer, and trading on values of that. You try to predict whether energy will be cheaper or more expensive, by looking at a whole range of factors, including weather, wars, politics, etc...Of course, trading on those future values will actually change those future values, so this needs to be taken into consideration. Yes, it is a load of bollocks, to an even greater degree than the stock market, but by
        • Generally no one makes money just betting on things (a few very well informed individuals make a nice living at it). A large company to make money they have to be able to something bigger than that. Enron's trading got it's start by taking a spread between producers and consumers who both wanted to be able to lock in prices to facilitate planning (they also owned pipelines which transfered physical gas around the country). Where they got into trouble was in internaitonal deals (that were poorly structure
      • a black hole that money comes out of
        As opposed to Advertising which is a black hole that money pours into.
      • Speaking of things that don't produce anything, Slashdot has a long tradition of doing that. Why aren't they more popular on the stock market ;-)

        Advertising is such a scam when everything else is boiled away.
        • The company that bought Slashdot was popular on the stock market for a short little bit of time.

          VA Whatever-they're-hyping-now even created a few temporary Open Source millionaires.
    • Re:Enron (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ubergenius (918325)
      While I agree with you in principle that Google is an uneasy investment (which is why, although I love everything Google, I have yet to invest in them), I must protest the comparison to Enron. While it is always possible that I am wrong, I get the distinct impression that Google is much more forthcoming and honest about their situation than Enron. When Enron tanked, it was because of a deliberate and illegal practice of doctoring their financial situation. I highly doubt Google is doing the same thing.

      Furt
      • Damn! I was hoping since you were talking about vidoes and office competitors in the same line, that you were suggesting the Google would come out with its own version of the BBCs The Office.

        Serg: "What is the single most important thing for a company? Is it the building? Is it the stock? Is it the turnover? It's the engineers, investment in engineers. My proudest moment here wasn't when I increased profits by 1000%, or cut expenditure without losing a single member of staff. No. It was a young Greek guy, f
    • Hmm, all replies thus far don't really appeal to me. 'I assume google is not doing bad stuff' doesn't sound like a decent fundament for fair and correct trading to me. What the Parent is trying to say, google can just make up the income from clicks themselves, or charge extra clicks to their costumers where they see appropriate. This is of course a mechanism beyond where any of us can get insight.

      I guess what do counts is that they earn a percentage of all click-throughs on websites, which means that by l

    • Re:Enron (Score:4, Insightful)

      by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @08:51AM (#15783100) Homepage

      Google make pots of money because AdWords does result in a good return on investment relative to other forms of advertising.

      Consider this. Imagine a fictional company that spends $10,000/month with Google on advertising, and is completely happy with the service because it results in lots of leads and sales. So it is actually profitable to spend this money. There are many companies in exactly this situation. Does it matter if 90% of clicks are fraudulent (which is probably not going to happen unless you are being deliberately targetted by a competitor)? If you are still getting a great ROI then no it doesn't matter. The invalid clicks are just noise.

      Google does produce something valuable if not physical - it produces a ton of people viewing websites who then go onto buy things. Same as any form of advertising. Except the relevance of AdWords makes it more valuable than most.

      • Yes it matters, because if 90% of the clicks are fraud, then you are spending 90% too much money on advertising. Just because a company is profitable using AdWords doesn't mean that they couldn't be more profitable if the click fraud was removed. Also, the cost of PPC advertising is going up. So while you may be profitable now, in a year, you won't be unless the click fraud can be removed.
        • Yes it matters, because if 90% of the clicks are fraud, then you are spending 90% too much money on advertising.

          Wrong. Google sells ads by auction. So, the price is determined by what people are willing to pay for it. If 90% of clicks turned out to be fraudulent and were filtered out, then people would just be paying 10 times as much for the remaining 10%.

          The real problem is when click fraud is targetted at individuals, who end up getting 100% screwed.

          (Also, if the ads are being displayed on some site

    • interestingly, enron came up with those huge commercial sized wind power generators. At the firesale, GE bought that division and those are some of the ones going in all over for commercial electrical generation.

      Here is what they have now

      http://www.gepower.com/businesses/ge_wind_energy/e n/index.htm [gepower.com]

    • Re:Enron (Score:1, Redundant)

      by andrewman327 (635952)
      Google isn't evil. I also doubt that most clicks are clickfraud. I do admit to clicking on a banner ad when I find a website that I really like, but only if it interests me on some level.
    • If ad-sense is its major source of money, and it keeps the underlying numbers pretty well buried, could we be looking at another Enron?

      To my knowledge, Enron never produced anything of marketable value. It was essentially a mercantile operation that got increasingly further away from trading in actual goods to trading in promises of future deliveries. That has always been a bubbly area.

      OTOH, Google's underlying success is based on a kind of entrepreneural manufacture: they were the first to develop a c

  • There is no report (Score:4, Informative)

    by Saib0t (204692) <`gro.dum-airepseh' `ta' `tobias'> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @07:53AM (#15782840)
    The PFG linked to in the summary does not contain the report of the expert.

    Rather it is the answer to the judge and mentions (2 or 3 times, shortly) the report of the expert. All the meat that is to be found in the PDF is that the report is conclusive that Google does all it can reasonably to combat click fraud.

    The PDF is interesting only if you're interested in legal stuff...

    My 0.02

  • Link Fraud (Score:4, Informative)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @08:11AM (#15782895)
    If you don't have time to read the full 47 page report, Search Engine Watch [searchenginewatch.com] has summarized some of the most interesting findings.

    404 - File Not Found

    • No, it's there. Try the same link again.
    • If you don't have time to read the full 47 page report, Search Engine Watch has summarized some of the most interesting findings.

      404 - File Not Found


      Well, that is the sumarisation of how they manage linkfraud.
  • by mustafap (452510) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @08:18AM (#15782922) Homepage
    Nice quote:

    "The California attorneys take the position that the damages are 200 times $90 million, or 18 billion, which is more revenuse than google has received in its entire existance"

    You just have to hand it to lawyers, they'll try anything.
    • Damages to a third party CAN be more than the company makes.

      The number itself might be unreasonable, but not the fact that the damages are more than the income.
      • >Damages to a third party CAN be more than the company makes.

        Would you care to explain your reasoning *in this case* though?

      • The number itself might be unreasonable, but not the fact that the damages are more than the income.

        Really? Aren't the damages in this particular case supposed to be fees that advertisers paid to Google that they shouldn't have paid? If that's true, how can the plaintiff attorneys allege that the damages for click fraud exceed the total revenue that Google has taken in during it's entire lifetime?

        NOTE: I'm not saying your wrong. I just don't understand. Can you clarify?

        • by The-Bus (138060) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:37AM (#15784574)
          Let's say your advertising budget is $100. In our example, each $1 you spent on advertising (historically) returns you $20 in sales and $5 in profits. You spent $20 of your budget on Google Adwords, 25% of which went to click fraud. So that's not only $10 wasted, but $200 less in sales and $50 less in profit that you could've had if there was no fraud.

          That's the basic logic, I believe.
        • They may be saying that had the advertiser known that this mechanism was worthless sooner, they would have advertised elsewhere which would have brought in additional sales.

          so they're seeking damages on lost sales opportunity, which may very well be much more than advertising costs.
        • Really? Aren't the damages in this particular case supposed to be fees that advertisers paid to Google that they shouldn't have paid?

          Not at all. You would start with the percentage of fees paid that were fraudulent as the base amount. Then you add in the opportunity cost of, a) lost revenue for the duration of the AdSense subscription; b) fees that could have been paid to a more accurate advertiser for the duration of the AdSense subscription; c) time spent trying to track down and discover that the maj
        • Actually, 'damages' actually means money that they Plaintiff Company didn't earn that they feel they should have, had Google upheld their contract properly.

          I don't know any numbers, so I'm going to make them up.

          Company P (for Plaintiff) knows that if they get 1 billion hits from Google, they'll make 1 billion dollars. If they get 10,000 hits from Google, they'll make $10,000.

          Company P has been paying Google $500 per month and getting 1 billion hits per month for 12 months. They have every right to expect
      • This is true - if a company spends 50 cents for each dollar that comes in, it is charging its customers double its income, and therefore can be sued for double its income.

        But in google's case it is all almost pure profit. They *maybe* spend 10 cents for each dollar.
  • Billboards (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @08:45AM (#15783053) Homepage Journal

    Advertisers will pay for a billboard without any guarantee from the advertising company about how many people will drive past the sign, how many of those will read it, how many will take the information in and act on it. The client is assumed to be taking a risk in that regard.

    Over time people decide for themselves whether a particular type of advertising is working for them. If the business keeps coming in why should there be a need for this type of analysis?

    • The difference between billboards and Google Adwords is that advertisers do not pay based on the number of people who *look* at the billboard, unlike Google ads where the charge (if I understand correctly) is based on the number of clicks an ad gets. It is much easier to fraudulently modify the value/cost of a Google Ad than a billboard.
    • Re:Billboards (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jalefkowit (101585) <jason@nOSPam.jasonlefkowitz.net> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @09:05AM (#15783196) Homepage
      Advertisers will pay for a billboard without any guarantee from the advertising company about how many people will drive past the sign, how many of those will read it, how many will take the information in and act on it. The client is assumed to be taking a risk in that regard.

      But "outdoor advertising" firms make no representations that they can measure these things. You know what you're getting when you buy space on a billboard. AdWords is different because Google sells it with claims that they can track these things (indeed, they bill you based on the results of that tracking). If Google's click tracking is inaccurate, you aren't getting what you thought you were getting. That's the difference.

      • Re:Billboards (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mstone (8523) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @09:57AM (#15783673)
        That objection can be solved if you add the concept of 'noise' to Google's reported numbers, and I'd say most people already do that.. at least to some degree.

        I don't think many people expect every adwords click to result in a sale for the advertiser. Instead, people just check to see whether there's a correlation between 'more adwords clicks' and 'more sales'. If 100 adwords clicks produce 30 additional sales, you can say that the adwords are 30% effective. Then it's up to you to decide whether those 30 additional sales are worth the cost of those 100 clicks. If so, you can write 70% of their adwords fee off as a cost of doing business. If not, you can close your adwords account, or lower the amount you're willing to pay per click.

        If Google was padding its numbers, people would see lower return rates from their adwords accounts. Those people would then be less willing to pay for the service. They wouldn't expand their accounts to cover other words.

        In other words, there's already a feedback mechanism that punishes Google for any loss of efficiency in its adwords program, and rewards Google for providing the best results it can.
        • This is such a goofball arguement. Yes, googles actions cause the rate of returns to advertisers to approach zero as the amount of clickfraud increases. That's NOT a disincentive - is mean's that google captures all the surplus rents when fraud goes up. Now introduce a delay between measurement an action and the winner of the adwords auctions actually lose as they overspend before they pull out.
          Now to this concept of noise - guess you've been reading your Claude Shannon? Again, you start off reasonable -
          • Your model assumes an infinite supply of potential customers who have A) no prior information about the system, and B) no way to gain information about the system without paying Google first.

            Try adding 'communication between agents' to your model.

            If agents in the system have the capacity to communicate A) with each other, and B) with agents who haven't yet entered the system, the effect of information lag is greatly reduced. If a large number of agents within the system find each other saying, "I get bette
        • 1/3 of clicks result in sales your ads are ... in technical jargon known as "holy shit wtf bbq" effective
      • Re:Billboards (Score:4, Informative)

        by swb (14022) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @12:44PM (#15785141)
        But "outdoor advertising" firms make no representations that they can measure these things. You know what you're getting when you buy space on a billboard.

        I worked in advertising for over a decade and your statement is totally false. These days EVERY advertising medium being pitched to a client MUST contain all kinds of analytical data backing it up, and this includes billboards. Locations, lighting, traffic patterns, etc, etc.

        And I'm sure that some outdoor media companies have their own internal research demonstrating that some locations feature superior demographics (ie, this road is between the corporate HQs and the wealthy suburbs and gets seen by all the wealthy commuters).

        • I stand corrected -- I was dumb enough to presume that just because something can't really be measured, nobody would claim to be able to measure it ;-) I'd give you mod points if I had 'em...
          • Yes, traffic really can be measured.

            Ever notice those black hoses you'll drive over occassionally on the road. It's keeping count and track of the time. Ergo, a full record of how many vehicles pass and at what time. These have existed at least some 35+ years, quite probably more, and are still used today.

            It shouldn't surprise you to know that the technology has improved [intertraffic.com] since the advent of those devices. Such systems are mainly used at the government level to monitor traffic. But as in another recent thr [slashdot.org]

    • Latest post aside, even if advertisers don't get driver data etc... they still expect the ad to be on the billboard. Billboard companies charge by space with an adjustment for the quality of the space. If they misrepresent the space, i.e. you buy 50 spaces and get 10 that is simple fraud.
      Google charging by clicks - if they misrepresent clicks I don't see how it is any different.
      • But they are not misrepresenting the number of clicks. Not doing "enough" to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate clicks is not at all the same thing as commiting fraud.

        It's easy to say that Google is not doing a good enough job identifying illegitimate clicks, but it's not very easy at all to come up with a robust system for accounting clicks.
  • Thinking about stuff (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2 AT earthshod DOT co DOT uk> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @08:54AM (#15783120)
    I'm writing a piece of ad-blocking software myself, and I was actually thinking of incorporating a few features. Specifically, the option of whether not to download the advert at all; to download the advert without displaying it; or to download the advert without displaying it and download the linked page without displaying it. Is this last option an example of "click fraud"?
    • Probably. Besides, why would the user ever pick that last option?
      • "Probably. Besides, why would the user ever pick that last option?" (The last option being to download the ad and the ad's linked page, without displaying either.

        If you really don't like ads, or especially a certain type (say, flash-based or pop-up-based ads), then the option to have the link "clicked" and cost the advertiser money without giving them any benefit might be appealing to the users of the ad-blocking software.

        Personally, I like text-based meaningful ads like the ones Google provides, but c

        • Not sure, may be the intent counts. One could also ask 'If clicking on a link is legal, why is clicking on the same link 100 times is illegal?'.

          In my case, I have both Google text ads and a banner ad. The banner one, I actually don't pay for the clicks, only for the 'air time.' On the other hand, for my Google text ads, I pay for the clicks.

          I live in an asian country (guess which one :)), so it might be different somewhere else.
          • Sorry to be nitpicky and jump into this discussion, but none of the behvior you're talking about re: clicks is illegal. It goes against the Google terms of service (which is why they try to stop it) and it means that Google misrepresents click-through rate to its customers if they can't account for it; the latter constitutes fraud.

            In other words, it's not illegal for you to build an ad-block that does what you describe. It's illegal for Google to refer to the pageloads that result as a legitimate click-th
            • Illegal and against the Terms of Service are two totally different things.

              Here's a more solid example if you're unclear:

              People can (And do) sell AOL screennames for quite a bit of money. It's against the terms of service and they'll kill your account if they catch you. It is not illegal though.
            • It's in fact inaccurate to speak of any legal/illegal distinction. This is simply about breaching a contract, and breach of contract is not illegal. You can be sued on it for sure, but it's not illegal in the sense that it is prohibited by law. You just have to pay damages resulting from your breach. (And there are even legal scholars who argue that sometimes you *should* breach; it's called efficient breach.)

              In any case, the only way this could be construed as illegal is if it were actually fraud, whic
        • How can following a link to a legal site be illegal?


          The law has this concept called "intent". It's not just what you do that matters, it's why you do it.
    • "Is this last option an example of "click fraud"?"

      Only if you are writing the software for Google and it is used to generate revenue. It certainly isn't fraud when a user clicks on an ad and then decides not to buy. That is the risk of advertising...
  • where is my money for being tricked into clicking on ads? I want $0.05 deposited into my account everytime I see a "Search for on EBAY!". Kramer, Jackie Chiles, and I will be in your office in the morning to sign the paperwork.
  • by ms1234 (211056)
    So this is why I am asked to approve their new terms and conditions?
  • Academic community (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It is interesting to see Google asked someone from the academic
    community to do this study.

    The most the study says is that the algorithms the Google
    uses are good to detect click fraud. It does not give any clue on
    how much fraud is not detected by the algorithms.
    • > It does not give any clue on how much fraud is not detected by the algorithms.
      Ummm... But... Oh, never mind.
    • by bogado (25959)
      This is impossible, since fraudulent clicks can be in every aspect equal to true clicks. First there is no clear definition on what is a fraudulent click, google and the target site only see an ip, a user-agent among some other http fields and a timestamp of the time that several things were loaded and clicked.

      One can argue that with some statistics one can find a site that is using automated clicking by using a network of infected computers. This would show as a unusual amout of clicking, but if the bad gu
      • a non-fraudulent site could have a surge of users into clicking an add when he appears in slashdot, digg, boing-boing or any other high-trafic site that links other sites.

        If only Google had a database full of sites that link to each other..
  • by dino_russ (991133) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @09:07AM (#15783212)
    Just a comment on their detection process. As a publisher who was terminated (and appeal denied) I do not believe in their process. I have a very active dinosaur website (approaches 1 million hits per month in school year -- probably lots of kids/teachers). it went well for one year then without notice (must be their autormated removal process) I was terminated for me or someother person associated with me generating what they classified as invalid clicks. Well I can state clearly i did not generate one invalid click, and I am only person doing website. So some other process was generating invalid clicks in their checking process. I am not sure what, whether with lots of activity I was getting those repeat 2 clicks that they filter out as invalid? Was there some spider clicking these (a competitor as I have heard about). All I maintain as a publisher I was terminated for nothing I did but was unfaily accused of doing invalid things. Does not make me very favorable to Google and their monolithic, unfair giant system. And I am happy to tell any one who asks what I think of their crummy system!!! Russ Jacobson Illinois State Geological Survey Champaign, IL
    • It sounds like you got a truly horrible treatment. An intersting question is whether the adword business model works at all given that fraudulent clicks can be generated for two opposite purposes and there does not seem to be a fair system to separate them: 1. Increasing website revenue, 2. Kill competitor - very efficient since there are few other advertising alternatives out there for small publishers.
    • I've heard about similar cases, and I think it sucks. That's why the lawsuit against Google bothers me so much. If their current fraud-detection process does not catch "enough" fraud, imagine how ridiculously strict it will have to become to accomplish such a difficult feat.

      I've wondered what would happen if I used Ad-words on my blog and a person in my family happened to click on an interesting ad. Given it's a low-volume blog I'm sure that Google would be able to correlate the IP addresses, so I imagine s
    • I too have experienced first hand the process of being terminated from google as a result of invalid page clicks. Any attempt to gain an explanation as to how the invalid clicks occured is met with standard form letters telling you that you can appeal but Google reserves the right to terminate anyone at anytime. It is really quite stupid as you have the option of appealing, but unless you know why you have been banned, as in where the clicks have occured, you have no hope of explaining any invalid clicks.
  • by us7892 (655683) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @09:18AM (#15783311) Homepage
    The last link is actually very good, and an easy read. Surprising for a legal document. It is "Googles Omnibus Response to Objections". I suggest giving it a read (PDF) http://googleblog.blogspot.com/pdf/objections_resp onse.pdf [blogspot.com]

    It is basically a response to the objections of a grand total of 51 people in "the class". An incredibly small number of objections.

    From the document:
    "The assertion that Google has done nothing wrong was echoed by advertisers that opted out of the settlement."
    "Unlike Retailers, Pay per click advertisers can limit the money risked for each click and for each day...Businesses should treat pay-per-click advertising like any other advertising...If it's costing more to advertise than your resulting profit, STOP ADVERTISING."

    And, regarding the "click fraud detection", there is only a small portion of this document that mentions the review process by Dr. Tuzhilin. It does mention that the click fraud detection methods by Google were confirmed to be reasonable.

    And finally, it was interesting to see read the jabs taken at the lawyers who brought the class action lawsuit to begin with...and the copy-cat cases from California, obviously a bunch of ambulance chasers.
  • by cyberscan (676092) * on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @12:01PM (#15784772) Homepage
    http://wwww.p2pnet.net/ [p2pnet.net] is a website deicated to filesharing news. The owner of the website, Jon Newton, runs the website and barely breaks even. He subscibed to Google's adsense in order to generate some revenue. When a story about a filesharing lawsuit broke in the lamescream news, an article in p2pnet was referenced. This article generate a huge number of visits and therefore a much larger than usual number of adsense clicks. Rather than pay what was owed to Jon, Google accused Jon of click fraud and even showed information implying his guilt. Google continues to ignore Jon's request for information relating to this accusation and refuses to communicate with him to clear things up.

    You can read about it at http://www.p2pnet.net/story/9086 [p2pnet.net] . This has happened not only to Jon Newton but also to many other small website owners. I am a Geek who used to love using Google, but now that Google has become big, it is doing what most other big companies do - screw the small guy and just walk away. Needless to say, I use alternative search engines instead.
    • Do tell, which search engines would those be? And do their results suck ass?
    • I am a Geek who used to love using Google, but now that Google has become big, it is doing what most other big companies do - screw the small guy and just walk away.

      Well, this isn't exactly a case of Google maliciously screwing the small guy. In fact, this is Google needing to make a choice between two small guys: the ad-displaying site, and the advertisers. Even if Google was incorrect about whether or not this was fraud, this was still them going out of their way to not charge their advertiser

  • "...NYU Information Systems Professor Alexander Tuzhilin (a Professor of Information Systems at NYU)..."
    ----------
    Redundancy Police,
    Department of Redundancy Department
  • techniques... I know what they're doing for ad sense. They look for anomolies. You have a campaign c(1) running on sites s(1)...s(n). You are site s(j) where 1=j=n. if the ctr for c(1) across all sites s(1)...s(n) deviates by a certain amount compared to the ctr of c(1) on your site s(j), you are out of there. You can improve this by evaluating more campaigns per site. They also do this in reverse, or if they don't, they should. It's simple but effective. When you complicate it like this paper suggests it
  • Either that, or I need to catch up on my knowledge of the Internet.

    He claims that "Computing devises attached to the Internet can exchange data of various types..."

    Computing devises???

    I am sorry, I just had to comment on this. It is not every day that Computer Science professors misspell devices :)

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