At a presentation Thursday by Google’s Elections and Issue Advocacy team, one of the first questions that came up was that of click fraud and Google Ads. Since advertisers pay only when Google Ads are clicked, should campaigns be worried about their opponents clicking away with wild abandon? A few interns or volunteers, for instance, could cost an enemy dearly. Click enough times and they could easily exhaust a campaign’s daily Google Ad budget, denying them not only visits from potential supporters but also the branding effect of a seen-but-unclicked ad.
Google’s team, led by Peter Greenberger, replied that the company believes that it can spot most click fraud easily and will refund money to advertisers who are found to have been a victim. They employ three levels of protection:
- Automatic. The ad management system is designed to raise flags if, for instance, one IP number seems to be generating a large number of clicks on an ad or series of ads.
- Human Analysis. Besides the automatic checks, Google employees also review broad data about click patterns to look for anything odd.
- Reactive Investigation. If you believe you’re being defrauded, for instance after watching your entire day’s ad budget being wiped out at the same time each morning three days in a row, you can get in touch with Google and request an investigation. Again, if fraud turns up, Google won’t count those clicks against you.
Actually, considering how traceable just about everything is on the Internet, campaigns would be silly to launch a systematic click-fraud effort — the victim could go to the press in about two seconds as soon as it was even suspected. Of course, if someone DOES pull that stunt, let me know — you know I love me some dirty tricks.