Whose click fraud numbers do you trust?

Something about this new click fraud study from MIT doesn’t make sense to me.

Understandably, it’s hard to find objective, third-party data on the extent of click fraud. Google and Yahoo aren’t sharing their data, that’s for sure. But this Click Fraud Network, which promises “100% free click fraud reporting,” has always seemed to me to be a recruiting tool for Click Forensics’ paid monitoring and analytics programs.

Now, don’t get me wrong, they may have perfectly valid information. But it’s hard to see their reports of click fraud, which are significantly higher than others’, and not consider their vested interest in reporting high click fraud numbers in order to scare up more business.

And I don’t mean to single out Click Forensics here either. I’m as skeptical of similar reports from research companies that also stand to benefit from painting click fraud as pervasive.

Of course, no one’s going to devote resources to getting to the root of click fraud if there’s no financial benefit. Short of a third-party auditor being allowed to look behind the curtain at Google and Yahoo, there doesn’t seem to be an accurate way to measure the extent of the problem. Let’s hope the SEMPO/Fair Isaac study can maintain some objectivity.

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