Google has released a new anti-fraud measure that provides reports of invalid clicks through its AdWords system.
Advertisers that use Google AdWords can now run campaign and account performance reports that include data about invalid clicks. They can choose to see the number of invalid clicks as well as the percentage of invalid clicks out of total hits that occurred during a given time frame. The numbers show malicious activity that Google has caught and removed from the advertisers' accounts.
Click fraud happens when machines or people click on advertisements with the intent of driving up costs for the advertiser since companies pay for their online advertisements based on how many times Internet users click them.
The feature will help address a nagging issue with click fraud, according to Google. "One of the controversial issues related to the topic of click fraud has been estimating how big the problem is," Shuman Ghosemajumder, business product manager for trust and safety at Google. "This new tool will make estimating invalid click activity much easier."
The tool could also help Google cut back on click fraud investigations. Sometimes, Google investigates reports filed by advertisers into invalid clicks only to show the advertiser that Google has already caught the clicks and removed them from the advertiser's account.
Google, Yahoo and AOL have all been sued by advertisers that claim they've been charged for invalid clicks. Recently, a judge approved a preliminary settlement between Google and a company that says it has been wrongly charged for invalid clicks, but the agreement is being disputed by advertisers that say the ettlement isn't enough.
As part of that suit, Google commissioned an independent report, executed by a professor from New York University, into its fraud fighting efforts. The professor found that Google is making a reasonable effort to fight click fraud.