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Google to offer advertisers click fraud stats

Advertisers will be able to see number of invalid clicks, as well as what percentage that represents of total clicks.

Responding to concerns about click fraud in the online-ad industry, Google will be revealing to advertisers the number of invalid clicks on their ads.

With changes the company is set to make to its AdWords system late Tuesday, advertisers will be able to see the number of invalid clicks Google found, as well as what percentage that represents of total clicks registered, said Shuman Ghosemajumder, business product manager for trust and safety at Google.

Click fraud occurs when Web site publishers click on ads on their site to boost their revenue or when companies click on rivals' ads to eat away at their advertising budgets. Invalid clicks, for which Google does not charge advertisers, include inadvertent double clicks on an ad, according to Ghosemajumder.

"Advertisers asked us for more transparency on this issue," he said. "Until now advertisers haven't had a great deal of data to compare from their own accounts in order to be able to understand what Google is doing for them."

Without relevant click fraud data from Google, advertisers have had to rely on estimates from third-party companies that provide services to combat click fraud and that Google accuses of inflating numbers to drive more business.

Industry reports say fraudulent clicks range from about 14 percent to as high as 20 percent of total clicks.

"Our goal is to provide that transparency so advertisers who previously may have been unnerved or concerned about these wildly exaggerated figures will be able to see now what Google is doing to protect them," Ghosemajumder said.

Google detects and filters out the "vast majority" of invalid clicks, he said, declining to give any general figures on invalid clicks.

Under the new system, AdWords customers will be able to see data on invalid clicks on a daily basis or beyond, going back to the beginning of the year, he said.

Google has had to limit the data it provides to prevent fraudsters from reverse engineering its systems and methods of operation, according to Ghosemajumder.

A report submitted in a court case last week The report was requested as part of a settlement reached between Web site Lane's Gifts and Google.

Lane's Gifts sued Google last year, claiming the search giant charged advertisers for fraudulent clicks. Other advertisers are challenging the settlement in court, arguing that the amount is inadequate compensation.

In a separate click fraud lawsuit, a federal judge approved a $5 million settlement Yahoo reached with Checkmate Strategic Group.