Click Fraud Gets Slicker

Andy Greensberg of Forbes has written about the problem of click fraud for years.  In fact it was Forbes who published a "debate" between Shuman Ghosemajumder of Google and me that helped set the record straight about discrepancies.  While the problem of click fraud has been widely covered by media outlets ranging from the Wall St. Journal to Search Engine Watch, Forbes (and Greenberg) have always been on the leading edge.This is still the case today as Andy wrote and excellent piece on the problem titled, "Google Faces The Slickest Click Fraud Yet."  The article focuses on the work of Harvard professor Ben Edelman.  Ben's site ( is an impressive compilation of research and reports on a wide range of topics with a focus on spyware, click fraud and online advertising. The article highlights "a new form of click fraud that accomplishes what online fraud watchdogs might have once thought impossible: a scam that not only simulates valid clicks on a Google ad sold to an advertiser, but seems to result in a real customer who spends money on the advertiser's site."  This is the worst case scenario for an advertiser and Edelman is right on in his method of identifying the threat.  While this approach is limited in it's ability to scale, it is the most significant finding since Click Forensics identified the "Bahama Botnet". I applaud the work of Ben Edelman and others as well as Andy and the folks at Forbes for continuing to shine the light on this ongoing problem for our industry.  For over four years now, we have been on a mission to "ensure advertisers get what they pay for".  As long as Google lacks transparency, there will be click fraud.  Ben ends by saying, "Google owes its advertisers something better than that."  I agree and we need more guys like Ben to help hold their feet to the fire. Tom Cuthbert