Google's Click Fraud Rate is Less than 2%

Back in November, Google’s business product manager for trust and safety, Shuman Ghosemajumder, declared that click fraud invalid clicks at Google was “on average is in the single digits, quarter over quarter.” I recently sat down with Ghosemajumder to discuss exactly how large of a problem click fraud is at Google. Whether intentional or not, he […]
Back in November, Google’s business product manager for trust and safety, Shuman Ghosemajumder, declared that click fraud invalid clicks at Google was “on average is in the single digits, quarter over quarter.” I recently sat down with Ghosemajumder to discuss exactly how large of a problem click fraud is at Google. Whether intentional or not, he gave me access to information and shared data never before seen outside of the walls of the Googleplex.

For those of you short on patience or time, here’s the revealing information gleaned from my conversation with Ghosemajumder:

The click fraud rate - as discovered by most AdWords advertisers - is on average, less than 2% of all clicks through Google’s system.

So why did Google break its silence to MarketingPilgrim.com on this touchy subject? How did we manage to get the real click fraud number out of Ghosemajumder? Read on.

Proof Google’s Click Fraud is Less than 2%

Ghosemajumder sat down with me during the recent Search Engine Strategies conference and went thru a PowerPoint presentation that he confirmed was previously shown only to employees of the world’s largest search engine. He explains how Google has a four-stage process in identifying and filtering what it calls “invalid clicks”. Google’s definition of invalid clicks includes non-fraudulent clicks (such as a visitor genuinely clicking an AdWords ad more than once) and “click fraud” (those clicks that are obviously not legitimate).

Ghosemajumder shared with me the following diagram* which explains the makeup of Google’s AdWords clicks.

As you can see, out of all clicks on the AdWords network, Google is able to filter out the majority of invalid clicks before reports a served to the advertiser. You’ll notice a small amount of “click fraud” that falls outside of Google’s invalid clicks filters. That small amount represents the click fraud often discovered by advertisers, through the AdWords console, and click fraud detection companies.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The blue “invalid clicks” circle you see above, represents the “single digits” number Ghosemajumder previously shared in November. By deduction, we can already estimate the actual percentage of click fraud that escapes Google’s rigorous filters and detection systems is barely 1-2%. However, Ghosemajumder then proceeded to share another graphic that more clearly describes Google’s filters and appears to confirm that undetected click fraud is less than 2%.

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Google’s Click Fraud Rate is Less than 2%