The Number One Issue

The discussion around click fraud is no longer an advertising industry topic.  There has been a growing interest from the financial community over the past few months.  I have had several analyst meetings, spoken to numerous reporters and have met with leading advertiser and agency executives.  There is one common thread to these meetings… they are all concerned about the impact of click fraud on our industry.  This raised awareness is a great step forward, benefiting the entire industry by helping to create a positive dialogue between search providers and advertisers to begin partnering towards a solution to the problem of click fraud.

In the past few weeks there have been numerous articles discussing everything from bot attacks to lawsuits.  I have appeared on CNBC twice to discuss the impact of the Click Fraud Index reporting at a 14% threat level.  While this coverage is good for the industry, in my opinion the most critical issue facing our industry is not how we define click fraud, but how we communicate concerns to the search providers.  We believe Click Forensics has the most complete dataset, the most advanced algorithm and the most accurate approach to identifying unwanted clicks.  But what can an advertiser do with that information? Currently, just about all they can do is send in log files, excel sheets or hope the ROI on their campaigns will improve over time.  It is this situation that is causing the growing frustration in the industry between advertisers and the search providers.  In other media (TV, radio and print) standards exist for advertisers and publishers to agree on delivery.  The answer for the online community is to establish and agree on a way for advertisers to submit their concerns to the providers.  Becky Quick from CNBC asked me if I thought there would be a deal in place before the end of the year.  The answer is yes.  Stay tuned as I will have more to say on this topic at the Bear Stearns Internet Roundtable in New York next week. Tom Cuthbert