Eric Schmidt’s recently discovered comments (via Donna Bogatin) about click fraud have got a number of folks headscratching. I’ve long concluded that for advertisers, click fraud is a tax, one that they will bear until it gets too onerous (in other words, until the cost of fraud outpaces the return of CPC advertising). Journalists lick their chops at perhaps someday breaking this story wide open. But if there is a larger story here, it will be broken by a deep throat inside Google, not by anyone else. That’s where the truth can be found.
Fact is, we have no idea how much click fraud there really is. Recent reports put it at 14%, but whatever it is, it’s a real issue in the minds of Google’s customers, and making light of it sounds entirely off key. By calling the problem “self correcting” Google forgets that it profits from fraud, and that’s a PR problem, if nothing else.
From Donna’s post:
Schmidt indicates, however, that Google engineers think it is “great fun” to try and get ahead of click fraud:
“But because it is a bad thing, because we don’t like it, because it does, at least for the short-term, create some problems before the advertiser sees it, we go ahead and try to detect it and eliminate it.”
It sounds like Google is “doing the advertiser a favor,” rather than attacking and acknowledging a real issue in the minds of its customers. Seems to me that beating fraud isn’t about having fun, it’s about insuring your customers’ trust in your business.