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July 04, 2005

Reporting publisher click fraud to Google just got easier

A JenSense exclusive! The AdSense team has asked me to announce a new reporting feature, similar to the "spamreport" that Matt Cutts announced at the WebmasterWorld conference last month, but this time, the purpose of the reporting feature is for reporting publishers engaging in click fraud.

If you know of a publisher engaging in click fraud, you can now report them anonymously by clicking the "Ads by Google" on that publisher's site, and then including the term "invalid clicks" in the comment field. And if you do not wish to stay anonymous, you can include your email address as well.

So what exactly is an invalid click? Google includes an "invalid click" definition on their AdSense support site.

Invalid clicks are clicks generated through prohibited methods. These prohibited methods include but are not limited to: repeated manual clicks, or the use of robots, automated clicking tools, or other deceptive software.
It seems that AdSense is taking a significant step up in catching as much publisher click fraud as possible. Click fraud has once again hit the news, with the recent lawsuit Click Defense (who, ironically, continue to advertise via Adwords) filed against Google.

And it also serves as a reminder of something David Kramer, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati who represents Google said in February following the lawsuit Google filed (and subsequently won a default judgment on) against former AdSense publisher Auction Experts International.

The suit won't be Google's last to combat click fraud, said Palo Alto attorney David Kramer, who represents the company.
So what kinds of things should be reported with the new "invalid clicks" tag instead of the "spamreport" tag? Click bot activity (programs that automatically click AdSense ads), click rings (where a group of publishers band together for the sole purpose of clicking each others ads, usually on a rotation basis), explicitly inciting clicks (often by sending emails asking for clicks, requesting clicks before another action - such as a download - can be done, or requesting clicks in a private area of the site that the mediabot cannot access), and hiring people to click.

Things such as "Please click our ads" listed above an AdSense ad unit would still fall under "spamreport" for being an AdSense terms/policies violation.

It could also work for advertisers who notice a high number of suspected fraudulent clicks coming from one AdSense site. They could then go to the site and report suspected fraudulent clicks, including details from their own data of why they suspect the publisher may be committing click fraud.

It is also a public move to show Google is serious about combatting this type of click fraud, and as a result, possibly increase the number of advertisers who currently opt into the content network. And it will be interesting to see if there is an increased number of publishers complaining at the WebmasterWorld AdSense forum about being suspended over the next while.

Posted by Jenstar at July 4, 2005 09:11 PM

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