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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Coverage of the Auditing Paid Listings & Click Fraud Issues Panel at SES Chicago

Well, the Auditing Paid Listings & Click Fraud Issues panel was very interesting this past Thursday at SES in Chicago.

The panel consisted of:
Jeffrey Rohrs, Optiem - Moderator
John Slade, Yahoo! Search Marketing
Shuman Ghosemajumder, Google
Jessie Stricchiola, Alchemist Media Inc.
Lori Weiman, KeywordMax
Jeff Martin, VeriClix (Yours Truly)

Things started off a little slow, however it didn’t take long for the gloves to come off. I believe it was Jessie who fired the first shot when she pointed out that Google and Overture (Yahoo! Search Marketing) are keeping a significant amount of money that doesn’t belong to them. Click fraud could be costing advertisers hundreds of millions of dollars – a good portion of which stays in Google’s and Yahoo!’s pockets.

I believe it was Jessie who asked for a show of hands from the audience of those who believe click fraud was affecting them. I don’t think I saw a hand that wasn’t raised.

In a nutshell:

  • Google and Yahoo! think they are doing a fine job in detecting click fraud.
  • Google believes that as long as advertisers have an acceptable ROI (who defines acceptable?) then everything is fine.
  • Google and Yahoo! positively acknowledge the services that the click fraud detection and auditing industry can provide and look forward to working with them.
  • Google says they throw out more clicks than advertisers pay for.
    I asked - Then why not COMMUNICATE that to your clients individually? Yahoo! fired back and said simply look the traffic in your log files from Yahoo! Search Marketing then minus the number of clicks reported by the Yahoo! Search Marketing service. I quickly pointed out, to the nods of many people in the audience, that no two reporting tools would ever match up no matter how intricate and detailed they may be. Bottom line, if they want to point out all of the work they are doing for advertisers and how much money they are saving them they need to communicate that to them.
  • Yahoo! and Google said they would love to talk about ways to deter click fraud and work together, but they can't because they are under a class-action lawsuit. That’s great to hear now, but BEFORE the class-action lawsuit almost NO communication came from either of them except for mostly form letters and few mysterious credits. The lack of communication is part of the reason WHY things have come to this point.
  • I brought up the concept of using a third party auditor who would take data from the PPC networks and the advertisers and make an impartial decision. Jessie chimed in as well on the idea of a third party. Currently there is an inherit conflict of interest when publicly traded companies decide to police themselves and determine when they will and will not refund money from the major source of their revenue.


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