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Transplant Athlete
Thursday, September 29, 2005
  Google Adwords Click Fraud

I advertise on Google Adwords for the Cycling-Videos site. You've seen the ads alongside your search results on Google.com. But Bloggers or for that matter anyone with a website can place Google ads on their site. Any ads not on the google.com site are considered part of the "Content Network" and the site owners get paid to host these ads on their sites.

The Google CFO called "Click Fraud" the biggest threat to the Internet economy in December of 2004. "Click Fraud" is when someone creates a site to host these ads, and then uses humans or a program to click the ads that appear on the site to "Steal" revenue for the website. One expert cited in the CNN/Money Article estimated that 20 percent of clicks were fake. I don't think Google really cares about "Click Fraud". Here are some stats from one ad group in my Adwords Account.




NetworkClicksCostConversion rateConversions
Search885$52.631.24%11
Content1662$85.4000


Those content network "clicks" also generated more shopping carts on my site than the search results. I was expecting 20 sales from these clicks based on the conversion rate for the search results and I was hoping that more shopping carts actually meant a higher conversion rate. I was shocked to learn that not one sale came through the content network. Its important to note, that the exact same ad was used and they both went to the same page on my website.

The solution is obviously to disable the content network distribution. Google Tech support was not interested in dealing with the issue when I sent them e-mails. In fact, the first couple of responses were auto-generated.

I was surfing around the Adwords site today and found the problem. From the Google site:
"...Budget Optimizer will actively seek out the most clicks possible within that budget."
"The Budget Optimizer helps you reach your target spend every month without requiring a lot of work on your part."
"Please note that we don't recommend the Budget Optimizer for advertisers focused on measuring conversions or values of ad clicks."


They are more concerned with generating clicks and helping people spend their budget every month than they are about things that matter like making sales. Why would someone just want to randomly spend money without a return on it? I can understand how someone might want to get their name out there, but this is like tossing $50s out the window of your car while you're driving down the highway. I think if they were to come up with a solution to the problem, they would lose 50% to 60% of their revenue and what company wants to do that?
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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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