Google to Eventually Disclose More Click Fraud Data

By Steve Bryant  |  Posted 2006-08-09 Print this article Print

SES Conference, San Jose -- Google CEO Eric Schmidt said today that the company is discussing ways in which to reveal more data about click fraud to their advertisers.

Schmidt maintained that Google has the click fraud problem under control, and that the rate of incidents is not increasing. But, he said, the company is trying to be more transparent with its customers.

"To the degree that our systems can detect it, we believe we have it under control," Schmidt said in an interview with Danny Sullivan, editor of "We're trying to find ways we can give information to advertisers that's truthful. One of the problem is that we have so many advertisers and we want to give aggregate data."

Schmidt mentioned Google's decision to join the Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB) committee on establishing click fraud standards, and implied that the standardization process will help all companies, not just Google, be more tansparent.

Google recently added a feature to AdWords that shows advertisers the amount of fraudulent clicks that occur on their ads.

During a public conversation and later in a hearing with press, Schmidt reiterated Google's position that third-party reports on click fraud were unreliable. Google will not mollify advertiser concerns by revealing how Google estimates click fraud because of competitive concerns.

"But there's a more fundamental reason," Schmidt said. "Anyone who looks at the way Google runs the advertising network, they make assumptions that are fundamentally untrue. So we've chosen not to reveal the fundamental economics of the ad box, primarily because [those economics are] changing so fast."

Asked if the company could be doing more to combat click fraud, Schmidt said "we're never doing enough."

Schmidt also spoke about the company's recent deals with Viacom and MySpace. During the press hearing, Schmidt said that the idea for video ads originated with Michael Wolf, president of MTV networks. According to Schmidt, Wolf called him prior to joining MTV to talk about the possibility of applying advertising to video. Wolf joined MTVN in November 2005.

Schmidt also said the Google has changed the way in which it approaches markets, largely due to the copyright concerns of companies in those markets.

"Because of our scale and the amounts of money we have, Google has to be more careful that it isn't violating  people's copyrights," said Schmidt. "Most of the [copyright litigation] in my judgement was really a business negotiation being done in a courtroom. We have to respect the copyright owners information."

Regarding AOL's recent disclosure of user search data, Schmidt said that release was a bad thing, but good in the sense that people now have an idea of the data they leave on the Internet. He said that such a disclosure would never happen at Google because the company has "systems in place" that would prevent it.

"That would be a violation of trust, so the answer is it won't happen."

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