02 Dec 2005

Greg Boser’s collecting PPC Fraud Data

Greg Boser says on his blog that he’s going to be collecting PPC Click Fraud Data.

Greg starts by saying that theres a few reports on PPC Fraud that make claims such as "Click fraud is the greatest threat facing the Internet" and they use statistics ranging from 15% to 35% of all clicks being click fraud, but they never mention how they came up with these figures.

So he’s says:

The only practical thing to do would be to try and collect some objective data that would shed some light on how big of a potential problem click fraud may be. By that I mean auditing the performance of the various fraud detection systems being used by each of the PPC engines.

So Greg’s looking for some volunteers/partners (where he foots the bill) where he’ll:

Step 1. Buld a Click Bot
Step 2. Select Some Sample Sites
Step 3. Develop Several Different Click Models
Step 4. Include Partner Sites
Step 5. Press the Start Button and Collect the Data

(see more info on Greg’s Post)

Over at Threadwatch they’ve got a thread going where Aaron mentions that Matt Cutts joined the comments on Greg’s site rambling something about "self-selection" bla bla. Andy’s jumping on Matt on both sites.

In the comments Greg further clarifies:

Let me clarify. We will only be clicking on ads I paid for. When I said we would click on partner sites, I wasn’t really talking about general Adsense sites. I’m talking primarily about AOL, meta search engines, domain parkers, etc.

Is there click fraud – certainly – what are the percentages? Who knows – it might not even be a constant accross time and searches. In one sense I think that your own fraudulant PPC clicks would depend on how many of your competitors are nasty people and how many that are nasty have additional technology, and motive of profit, to be able to dig down to your PPC phrases. Or maybe it’s much more than that.

I tip my hat to Greg for trying to find some numbers that I’d be interested in seeing to a least have a glimps of something in this area that’s was performed by someone like Greg. I’d trust Greg’s findings over any others, as far as even "here’s a possible ballpark".

Sure it’s not perfect, and Greg knows that. I use wordtracker, and I know that data’s got the same constraints (a limited database), but it’s the best I can get. I thing Greg would do better than anyone else making good or bad claims of click fraud from data that "who knows who" came up with.

I’m really curious as to what Greg will find, and his article sounds objective, but depending on the outcome, Greg say’s he’ll either:

tell all the click fraud “chicken littles” to shut the hell up.

or he’ll

be at the front of the line with a torch and pitchfork demanding that they are held accountable.

It’s the second one that has me a little nervous. I wonder if high numbers of fraud reported would effect my adsense account?

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