I am on my way back from Search Engine Strategies (SES) in Chicago. What could have been more fun than another click fraud panel this time in sunny Chicago in December! Honestly, I have been looking forward to participating with the same group we had in San Jose last summer. The discussion was lively and I have a deep respect for the other panelists.
Jeff Rohrs did another exceptional job laying out the issues surrounding click fraud. Since we last met there have been several major developments around this topic. I thought I would update you on those as well as provide you a recap of SES.
First is the work of the IAB and the Click Measurement Working Group. The process is underway to help define industry standards surrounding click fraud. Click Forensics is deeply involved, having met in person with both the IAB and the Media Rating Council (MRC). We take our role seriously and have dedicated time and resources to help this important initiative. All four major search engines are engaged as well as other industry players. John Slade from Yahoo! gave a brief recap saying that two meetings have been held and all the stakeholders are working well together.
Secondly, the formation of the Click Quality Council (CQC) signals advertiser interest in the issue of click fraud. The CQC held its first meeting the week of SES and will be focused on developing solutions from an advertiser perspective to improve click quality for our industry. The CQC and the 3,000+ members of the Click Fraud Network represent a large percentage of all online spending. It is critical that their collective voices are heard as we work together to improve the industry. I pointed out on the panel that the Wall Street Journal recently reported that online advertising revenue growth is flattening. Clearly, part of this is due to a lack of standards, clear measurement standards and a deficit of transparency into the process. My hope is ’07 will provide some movement on these issues.
As you know, Q4 represents the most active quarter of the year for pay per click advertising. The Click Fraud Index released November numbers indicating the click fraud activity increased to above 14%. This is not surprising given the increase in activity. If you have looked at the increased spam in your inbox you will understand! Stay tuned for more information on this.
There was a great deal of discussion around the “friction” that exists for advertisers who find click fraud in their campaigns in submitting that information. Several questions from audience members made known their frustration. While both Shuman and John commented that they want to work with advertisers, it was not enough. Our feeling is that there needs to be a process for advertisers to easily submit findings, understand the levels of invalid activity and have a defined reconciliation process. Click Forensics will continue to work on this.
Lori Weiman and Jessie Stricchiola did a great job discussing the lawsuit updates. Jeff mentioned the recent BusinessWeek article titled “The Vanishing Click-Fraud Case” (http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2006/tc20061204_923336.htm) and that sparked some good discussion.
We all survived the 14 degree temperature in Chicago and all in all felt that SES was well worth the trip. Thanks to my fellow panelists and I look forward to New York!