Just yesterday, Google gave some insight as to how many clicks are fraudulent within their AdWords/AdSense program, but they also explained their system for detecting click fraud. It’s one of those things that they have to deal with proactively because it happens each day.
They take proactive steps with a three level system to ensure that advertisers are getting what they paid for. Their first step is real-time filtering which analyzes every single click. This step accounts for most of the invalid click detection that occurs which makes this the most important step. They also use off-line analysis which includes automated algorithms and manual analysis with focus on the AdSense Network. The last step is more of their reactive measure and is done in the form of investigations in certain situations when advertisers ask for it.
Breaking the numbers down, less than 10 percent of all clicks are invalid which means that these are the clicks that weren’t charged, an no refund needs to be made. 0.02% of clicks are classified as click fraud which means that refunds are given after advertisers have asked for an investigation.
Click fraud is serious business, but the steps that they take must be making a difference, and on a whole, these numbers aren’t quite as bad as I thought they would be. Google says that they’re disclosing the numbers to “provide greater transparency to Google advertisers.”
I was actually surprised with the click fraud percentages simply because pay-per-click advertising is guaranteed to draw in people who try to cheat the system. If these numbers are right, it means that Google is able to catch 99.98% of clicks which is rather impressive.