The major Web search companies have announced their plans to work together with two industry groups, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the nonprofit Media Rating Council, to quantify click fraud. The group's mission is to establish guidelines for what constitutes valid clicks and invalid clicks on ads to help the industry measure how prevalent click-fraud is.
After numerous class action lawsuits and criticism from advertisers, the major Web search companies, such as Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Ask.com, LookSmart and others, have announced on Wednesday their plans to work together with two industry groups, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the nonprofit Media Rating Council, to quantify click fraud. Together, they will be known as the Click Measurement Working Group.
The group's mission is to establish guidelines for what constitutes valid clicks and invalid clicks on ads. Guidelines can help the industry measure how prevalent click-fraud really is. Third-parties who sell click-fraud-combating services to advertisers claim that click-fraud rates are as high as 30 percent. Google and Yahoo, however, counter that click-fraud rates are minimal.
This announcement comes a week after Google kicked it up a notch and began offering invalid click stats to their Adwords advertisers. For those of you not familiar with click-fraud it occurs when online ads are intentionally clicked on, either by websites who get paid for hosting the ads or by companies trying to deplete the ad budgets of rivals. This is typically done so that fraudulent clickers can buy the search keywords themselves and steal the business.
Since day 1, I've questioned whether or not search engines should be the ones to police click-fraud issues simply because of all the incentive and profit that goes with it. Let's face it, search engines make money on click-fraud... and I mean good money. Would you expect a company to take serious action against their primary source for revenue? I'd think not.
To me, it's always been the "fox guarding the hen house" scenario. Even though Google, Yahoo!, and others are some of the most respected and trusted companies of today, one would still have to wonder whether or not they're as honest as they should be when it comes to click-fraud.
With that said, I firmly believe that forming the "Click Measurement Working Group" is a step in the right direction for Pay Per Click advertising. The newly formed group will ensure that marketers of all sizes are provided the highest possible level of transparency when dealing with invalid PPC clicks.