Click fraud -- which occurs when web site owners click on ads to boost their own revenues or competitors click on ads to drive up competitors' marketing costs -- cost advertisers $800 billion last year, according to Click Forensics. Not surprisingly, advertisers have been demanding more transparency from Google about how click fraud is affecting their bottom line.
"Until now advertisers haven't had a great deal of data to compare from their own accounts in order to be able to understand what Google is doing for them," said Shuman Ghosemajumder, business product manager for trust and safety at Google. "Our goal is to provide that transparency so advertisers who previously may have been unnerved or concerned about these wildly exaggerated figures will be able to see now what Google is doing to protect them."
The third-party companies that provide anti-click-fraud services were advertisers' only resource until now. Click-fraud related companies had been accused by Google of exaggerating numbers to help their business. Now, the change to Google's new AdWords system means that advertisers will see the number of fraudulent clicks that Google found, and the percentage of total clicks that number represents. AdWords users will also be able to view their click fraud numbers on a daily basis or even back to the beginning of the year.
Ghosemajumder said the system would filter out the "vast majority" of fraudulent clicks, but added that the data on the system would be limited to prevent reverse engineering of their technology.