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Defining Clicks and Click Fraud 78

abb_road writes "Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have banded together and created the Click Measurement Group, with the goal of creating a standard definition for a 'click'. The group will have some access to the three companies' click data, although the access won't be unlimited. The move comes in response to advertisers who claim that click fraud is costing them almost $1 billion dollars a year, and who have hit Google and Yahoo with lawsuits alleging negligence in fighting click fraud."
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Defining Clicks and Click Fraud

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  • by Cyberglich ( 525256 ) * on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:48PM (#15842616)
  • ...something that is not a clack...
  • And once they define what exactly constitutes a "click," they'll collectively go on a rampage against amazon.
  • great idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:54PM (#15842663) Homepage
    Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have banded together and created the Click Measurement Group, with the goal of creating a standard definition for a 'click'.

    Maybe afterwards they can put their noggins together and standardize what the definition for "is" is.
  • You seem to not click enough. Would you like me to click a little for you ?
  • by Prof.Phreak ( 584152 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:56PM (#15842685) Homepage
    In Firefox, right click on the link, click on `Open Link in New Tab'.

    Do this to many links that appear like they're counted.

    Wait for the page to load (don't view it!).

    Right click on the tab. Click `Close Tab'.

    Congratulations, you have just ``clicked'' according to their definition. You also have just cost a site some $$ (and made some $$ for Google/Yahoo/Microsoft).

    Advertising rocks!
    • by rainman_bc ( 735332 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @05:22PM (#15842858)
      In Firefox, right click on the link, click on `Open Link in New Tab'.

      Just middle click on the link. Faster. ... and in Windows, middle click closes the tab. Although in Linux it refreshes the tab.

      Stupid default settings for FF that are not the same across OS's...
    • I do not believe that is true. From my understanding, you pay X dollars for Y clicks which will last over Z months, so whether the links are clicked or not, your money will be gone at the end of Z months or until Y clicks are achieved. In that sense, you are not truly increasing their revenue unless the site buys more ads because they are gettting enough volume.
      • by CottonThePirate ( 769463 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @06:03PM (#15843129) Homepage
        No, I advertise my photography company on Google. You pay per click, worse, you bid per click so pay more for fancier keywords. My photography keywords tend to cost anywhere from .05 - 1.00 per click. Try wedding photography, want to be the first one on the google list? Try $8 or $9 PER CLICK! I seem to have about a 5-10% conversion ratio of clicks to sales, so that's $100 per sale in advertising for a wedding photographer. This is part of the reason I do mostly animals and non-getting-married people. I once heard on PBS that the average consumer spends like $500 a year on advertising. (ie. you buy a coke for $1.00, and coke spends .05 of every dollar they get on advertising, so in their model you just spent .05 on advertising). As a small bidniz owner I'm saddened by all you punks that ignore my ads :-p just my .02. By the way, go to my site and click all the "get a camera free" google links, also click on them on any site you see, then maybe we can put those scammers out of business. I wish google had a "no skeezy" advertising option.
        • You can block any adverts you don't like from appearing on your site. Select "Competitive Ad Filter" under "AdSense Setup" and add any domain you don't want to advertise on your site.
    • Middle click is quicker.
  • by niceone ( 992278 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:58PM (#15842694) Journal
    I have no idea. Umm how did I get here?
  • Irony (Score:5, Funny)

    by JakusMinimus ( 49854 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @05:06PM (#15842757) Homepage Journal
    The move comes in response to advertisers who claim that click fraud is costing them almost $1 billion dollars a year, and who have hit Google and Yahoo with lawsuits alleging negligence in fighting click fraud.

    That's rich, advertisers are trying to sue for negligence and fraud. What's next, wives accusing their husbands of having a vagina?!
  • ... that WGA will also check for legitimate clicks ?

    You may be a victim of click counterfeiting.
  • by vmxeo ( 173325 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @05:09PM (#15842774) Homepage Journal

    How grave a concern is click fraud for advertisers?

    There's a host of stuff out there that concerns marketers that needs to be cleaned up. It includes impression measurement, it includes click measurement, standardized contracts, so you know for us it's all a big picture of stuff that in order for the maturing of the medium needs to be done. And how big a deal is click fraud? We don't like anything that would give marketers concern, especially if it's a solvable problem.

    Translation: We've got a lot of stuff to sift through, which we haven't even started on yet. But it's ok, 'cause the results would only scare people unnecessarily. ANd we don't want that

    Advertisers say the search engines haven't done enough to combat fraud.

    Search produces results. End of story. It produces results. My guess is that these advertisers would like to see any concern that might seep into the view that their management has, or anybody else. Because they know in their heart of hearts that this really works. It's in everybody's interest to clean this one up.

    Translation: We haven't actually asked. We just kinda assumed it's a problem.

    What exactly have the search companies pledged to do?

    We're going to go forward with developing click-measurement guidelines that will address at a public level all the sort of subsidiary issues of that, which includes fighting globally invalid clicks and also click fraud.

    Translation: We had a few ideas scribbled out on a cocktail napkin... but we lost it when one of the associates spilt her apple-tini all over it.

    Did Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google, and others involved promise to give you unlimited access to their click data?

    They have committed the time, the energy, the resources to see this through to a final industry guideline--one that's accepted by not just themselves, but by agencies and by marketers and by the advertising industry overall. Does that mean that they would bring to bear some data and other insights? Absolutely. Could they still have proprietary solutions of their own? Yeah, stuff that might be protected by their own (intellectual property), but they have committed the resources to help.

    Translation: First, the asked who we were, then they laughed at us, then said absolutely not. We're coming up with some sort of backup plan though. :(

    Media need to operate with transparency. There's marketers and agencies who are paying money for things. They need to know, what are they paying for? What does that look like? What is the standardized way in which that's being counted? And also ultimately, is that audited? Can we validate that (using a third party)? And so, in an industry that is now going to be close to $16 billion this year, it should be relatively obvious that we need to operate with the principles that all media operate under.

    Translation: Ok, we just came up with our contingency plan: if we keep asking, and some point they'll have to say "yes", right?

    What's the timeframe for creating the click-measurement guidelines?

    I've learned through experience with standards I never make a commitment to timelines. It took us 14 months to do the ad-impression guidelines, which is kind of the last big one that we did. We don't really know what we don't know at this point. We could come to a conclusion and say "Geez, we're pretty close. There aren't any outside data--let's get it done." Or we could say, "Hmm, I don't think we're comfortable with that issue, let's dig deeper."

    Translation: We have no idea.

    What bodies will be involved in auditing, using your definition?

    That will be really up to the industry to define that, so in the process of developing measurement guidelines we'll also be developing audit guidelines. That's how we did it in the impression guidelines, so I fully expect to do the same thing.

    Translation: We're waiting for

  • Signal to Noise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gartogg ( 317481 ) <[] [ta] [namads]> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @05:11PM (#15842782) Homepage Journal
    All three companies involved do so because it is beneficial to their image to be seen fighting click fraud, even though they know that the recommendations for eliminating it will be useless - it's a technology battle, and it will escalate. No matter what the recommendations are, they won't do much to stop persistant abusers of the system. But, on the other side , it doesn't matter.

    The real solution here, as usual, is the free market. Advertisers will decide where to spend their ad budget, and they either think this is a problem or not. The solution will boil down to convincing these (probably technologically savvy) ad people to buy ads. That's why having a standard is useful - it looks good. And judging by Google's profits, corporate wallets are voting yes to online ads. If click fraud was a real problem, they wouldn't.
    • What's also interesting here is that the big 3 search engines (i.e. the things that most consumers would simply label as 'THE internet') are going to create a definition for clicks and possibly some shared base technology. It doesn't really matter how good or bad that definition or technology actually is, since together these 3 are basically the only show in town. They each retain their own differentiation and usage characteristics, but unless the definition or tech aren't that good, advertisers will have t
  • by duplicate-nickname ( 87112 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @05:12PM (#15842790) Homepage
    I can guarantee that their definition of a "click" is going to favor the bottom line of Google/Yahoo/MSN and make it even harder for advertisers to get their money back on fraudulent clicks.
    • I'd agree with you. However, with the rate online advertising is growing, and the amount of money they're likely to gain from that growth, the best thing for their bottom line may well be to keep all of this legit and above board.

      Why risk the goose that lays your golden eggs?

  • by poliopteragriseoapte ( 973295 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @05:12PM (#15842791)
    Defining what counts as a click is a very interesting and difficult problem. The main trouble is that you have to get a definition such that, even if the click-spammers know it, they cannot take advantage from the knowledge.

    I have the impression that right now, click fraud is fought using statistical criteria to identify real and fake clicks. If you publish a definition of what is a real click, the definition has to be very good and clever, so that fraudsters cannot simply write code that generates fake clicks that satisfy the definition.

  • I did, however, swap its story ID into the reply URL from another one, and load the reply box directly. Yay for fraud!
  • The solution is easy (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    just stop charging for click and start charging for impression.
    In tv or newspaper they pay for the impression of the ads not from people going in the shop.
    • I think there would be even more problems with fruad paying per impression. Its extremely simple to make an advertisement invisible on a website. While being paid per impression webmasters have no incentive to actually let visitors see the advertisements. Which is why I suggest some sort of minimum impression / click ratio. The cost of 50 clicks guaruntees you 50 clicks AND 1000 impressions or whatever a decent click through ratio might be.

      This way no website can have a 100% click through ratio, and if they
  • Oh FFS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @06:06PM (#15843140) Homepage Journal
    If it's that much of a problem, work out on average how many (legitimate) clicks generate a sales lead and pay that much more for actual sales leads generated instead of per-click. Then the whole problem of click fraud goes away (And gets replaced by sales lead fraud.)
    • Re:Oh FFS (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KalvinB ( 205500 )
      How many companies keep track of where their visitors come from so they can properly credit the source? I'd say few to none.

      So joe visitor visits my site and clicks through to the advertiser's page. With Pay Per Action, Joe Visitor must purchase the product right then in order for me to recieve credit. If Joe Visitor likes what he sees but decides to come back later after talking it over with Mrs Visitor, I don't get paid because he will inevitably go directly to the site rather than reload my site a baz
      • So let me see if I can get the wording here right... "Click fraud is costing us $1 Billion a year but we can't afford figure out how to track sources." Is that pretty much what you're telling me? 'Cause I have a most excellent idea. Give me a mere 10% of that and I'll damn well figure out how to track sources so you don't have to worry about click fraud again. It'll pay for itself 10 times over in the first year. Lets say... half now and half after I buy a house in the cayman islands *cough* I mean solve th
    • And the number of ads multiplies like mutated bird flu.

      The most overused button on a browser these days is the back button as soon as most people realise they have fallen for yet another ad filled and information free page.
      I can live with some ads, but they are far too cheap if advertisers were forced to pay a little more then perhaps they would spend on effective advertising. maybe even on good product information. I choose hardware carefully now if it hasn't got good linux support I will look for somethin
  • It's the level 2 DOM event that is triggered after the mouseup event if the position of the mouse hasn't moved a set distance (varies from OSes/Desktop environments) after the previous mousedown event.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Google has suspended my AD Sense account twice for what they deemed "Invalid Clicks", even though there was no absolutely no fraud on my part, and I'm not the only one this has happened to. It's widespread, especially for the small website owners like myself.

    Consider this...

    They give you an account and tell you NOT to encourage your website visitors to visit the sponsors. How stupid is that?

    They give you a google search box and and tell you NOT to encourage your website visitors to use it. How stupid is tha
    • RE: They give you an account and tell you NOT to encourage your website visitors to visit the sponsors. How stupid is that?

      What? Adsense pays out pretty big for the clicks that I get. I can see why saying on the site, "please click these ads, it will support my time investment and all you have to do is click an ad.", is NOT KOSHER.

      RE: They give you a google search box and and tell you NOT to encourage your website visitors to use it. How stupid is that?

      What? That's not stupid at all. Read above.

      RE: Isn'
  • Depends on what your definition of "definition" is.
  • Hosts file. What clicks? Odds are dang good no clicks come from me. Ever.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"