Google click quality 'investigation' is bunk

Following up to my previous article where I discussed the extent of Google content ad click fraud, I can now confirm that the Google "click quality team" that's ostensibly supposed to investigate click fraud is bunk.

First, they made me wait for a reply two weeks after I filed the initial click quality report. I guess two weeks doesn't look too long for an "investigation", and in this time some proportion of advertisers tend to forget anyway what it was they were complaining about.

From this reply, sent by one "Sachan" (no surname), it was apparent that they ran only a superficial check in their own database; they were entirely unwilling to even consider looking at my logs.

Here's what they have to say about the awful proportion of content ad clicks that were coming to us with no referrer, and the awful quality of those clicks (35% of them left within 10 seconds and without even waiting for the page to fully load - compare this with 2% for clicks coming from Google search, and 5% for content ad clicks coming to us with a non-blank referrer):
In general, referrer headers may not be present for all visits for your AdWords ads. There are multiple mechanisms which can prevent the transmission of this header, including firewall hardware/software, proxy IP configurations, and browser settings.
This is a total cop-out. They conveniently ignore that:
  • the quality of blank referrer clicks was impossibly low compared to other clicks;
  • that we have virtually no blank referrer clicks coming to us from search; somehow only content ad clicks were coming to us massively with blank referrers.
I find it very hard to believe that, over a period of 3 months, we would consistently see such poor performance in clicks that have a blank referrer purely by accident.

I think it's kind of obvious what those blank referrers are for. They prevent the website owner from looking at their logs, seeing where bad clicks are coming from, and disabling content ads on sites from which these clicks come from. The only way to learn the sites from where such clicks are coming is to ask Google - and they are not exactly eager to help.

There have been several days and I have since sent several replies to Sachan, employing everything from logical arguments to begging and threatening about publicity and legal action, and nothing works. Altogether, I received exactly two emails containing boilerplate wording such as this:
Our investigation did not find evidence that suggests automated or unethical clicks were charged to your account, but I understand that you feel this traffic may not have performed well on your site. As such, you may consider adding domains of concern to your site exclusion list for this campaign.
Right. And how exactly shall I do that, given that all the bad clicks are coming to our website with a blank referrer?!

In summary - the Google click quality investigation team is bunk. It seems Google created it as a false comfort to advertisers, in order to make it seem like they are doing something about click fraud, when in reality they're wasting money on chefs and perks and entertaining their employees' pet projects. The company is run like a kindergarten, with all the (lack of) responsibility implied.

If I were an investor, I would short Google's stock.

Oh, and if anyone is contemplating a class action lawsuit against Google, please count us in. We lost several thousand dollars to this over a span of several months, and Google isn't even so much as blinking.


foliovision said…
Dennis, that's outrageous. My own refund report (automated bots stepping through every single ad we have from the same IP) has been with Google for six months.

Thanks for sharing. That Sachan guy seems to be the principal front man for the stonewalling. A bit of a dick to say the least. I guess he didn't get the "Don't be evil" memo.

Alec Kinnear
Foliovision Wordpress SEO

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