Google is collaborating with Click Forensics to clamp down on search ad click fraud.
Click Forensic's FACTr (Fully Automated Click Tracking Reconciliation) service generates click-quality reports and submits them automatically to Google — so advertisers won't have to do it manually, ComputerWorld reported.
"Click fraud" refers to when pay-per-click ads are repeatedly engaged by users or bots with the intention of driving the advertiser's ad spend upward. For example, rival companies might click on a company's ads to drive up their ad spend — or, if the latter is on a budget, make the ads less likely to run for qualified customers. Sometimes publishers will click on their own sites' ads, or encourage other users to do so, just to drive commissions up.
These practices are generally easy to catch, however, if the webmaster keeps IP records. And Google automatically keeps track of duplicate or derivative IPs, ignoring or flagging them if unusual activity occurs. But whether or not clicks are legitimate, Google is likely to make a profit, which makes it hard for skeptics to believe the search giant goes out of its way to curb click fraud.
A Feb. '08 report from Click Forensics said that click fraud rates grew to 28% in 4Q07, up from 19.2% in the last quarter of 2006, a figure Google promptly denied). By 2Q08, the average click-fraud rate of PPC advertisements on search engine content networks, like Google AdSense and the Yahoo Publisher Network, grew to 27.6%.
Earlier this year, Austin-based Click Forensics also worked with Yahoo to produce a software tool for click fraud reporting and detection.