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Sunday, April 16, 2006

How Google and Yahoo can get the Click Fraud Monkey Off of Their Back

Part of a discussion I had in the HighRankings forums about click fraud focsed on a third party solution that could be entrusted with both search engine advertiser data:

Any PPC data you provide to support your claim is subjective. The search engines and PPC networks can say either:

1. It doesn't look suspicious (or 'low quality' as Google likes to put it) to us -OR-
2. You were never charged for those clicks

The main problem here is that each party has a bit of the information that form the most complete picture. For advertisers, unless they have a click fraud detection and auditing service they are not going to have neither the time nor the data to be able to determine:

1. Is click fraud an issue for me?
2. How much of an issue is it / what is the level of click fraud?
3. How do I get the data and supply it to the search engines to validate my claim?

Pouring through log files just isn't feasible. Marketers should not have to spend their time as a data analyst or 'refund collection hound'.

What I and a few colleagues have been saying for awhile now is that an independent party is needed who can be trusted with both the search engines data as well as advertiser data who can make an unbiased decision. This would:

1. Get the monkey of the search engine's back and aid in restoring the faith of their advertisers.
2. Give advertiser's some piece of mind when spending billions of advertising dollars
3. Create a standard uniform submission policy to allow everyone to know what data is needed and what format to put it in. Perhaps through an application programming interface (API).

Google was quoted as saying that they don't want to give away their click fraud detection practices to competitors. That argument would be irrelevant with a third party organization with a proper NDA. Yahoo is interested in the idea; perhaps John Slade of Yahoo sees the true benefit for all here unlike Google. In the end, just like the case pending settlement, if one of them takes a step forward toward this type of solution others may look bad in not following suit.


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