Two ad industry groups are stepping up with several performance-based marketing providers to define how a "click" should be measured, and when it should be considered fraudulent.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Media Rating Council (MRC) are jointly forming an industry-wide Click Measurement Working Group to create a set of Click Measurement Guidelines. They have already been joined by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Ask.com and LookSmart, and have extended an invitation to all IAB members.
The working group will attempt to establish a definition of a "click" as it is measured for purposes of performance-based marketing by search engines, ad networks, third-party ad servers, and others. The group will also outline a recommendation for a third-party auditing and certification plan that marketers would be able to employ to measure their own campaigns against.
The issue of invalid clicks, where advertisers are being billed for clicks that were unintentional or were purposeful click fraud, has been growing along with pay-per-click marketing. Click fraud issues have been most prominent in search marketing, with Yahoo and Google being targeted by several recent lawsuits, the last of which was settled last month.
While search engines have been working on their side to eliminate invalid clicks, it is also necessary for the issue to be addressed from the advertiser side by the industry, according to Shuman Ghosemajumder, business product manager for trust and safety at Google.
"We've been trying to tell advertisers more and show them more about invalid clicks. We also think there is more the industry as a whole can do to promote transparency on the issue, which is why we're participating in the Industry-wide Click Measurement Working Group," Ghosemajumder wrote on Google's Inside AdWords blog.
The guidelines are part of the broader Global Ad Impression Guidelines published in November 2004 by the IAB, MRC, and other industry groups. Earlier this year, the IAB published its Broadband Measurement Guidelines under the same program.
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Kevin Newcomb joined ClickZ in August 2004, covering search marketing and other online marketing topics. He has been reporting on web-based businesses since 2000.
Before the bubble burst, Kevin was a marketing manager for an online computer reseller, handling copywriting, e-mail marketing, search marketing and running the affiliate program.
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