From next month, Google is to provide more data, as well as tools to help its pay per click advertisers detect and combat click fraud. 

The online ad giant will allow PPC advertisers to specify which IP addresses will be prevented from receiving their ads, in order to stop unscrupulous rivals wasting ad budgets with repeated clicks.

This is a smart move towards the greater transparency many advertisers have been demanding.

Shuman Ghosemajumder, Google’s business product manager for trust and safety says Google are trying to provide its advertisers with ‘as much transparency, understanding and control around this issue as we can’.

Ghosemajumder added:

“IP filtering is going to allow advertisers to say: ‘If I believe a given IP address isn’t producing productive traffic for me, then I don’t want to ever show my ads to that IP address.”

Google will also start to show advertisers more detail on the amounts it didn’t bill, due to filtering out fraudulent clicks.

Click fraud is a thorny issue, with much disagreement between Google and advertisers over the actual levels of click fraud, with third party estimates of click fraud being much higher then Google’s own figures.

Just last month, a ClickForensics survey claimed that the rate of click fraud reached 14.2% in Q4 of 2006, a figure which was disputed by Shuman Ghosemajumder.

Tom Cuthbert, CEO of ClickForensics, responded to Ghosemajumder’s criticisms, claiming his blog posts were ‘so filled with inaccuracies that I can only assume it represents an individual’s view and not that of Google’s executive management’.

On the Inside AdWords blog, Google gives some detail about its click fraud filtering process, claiming that the fraudulent clicks it proactively detects make up 10% of all clicks, and that the ones it misses amount to 0.2% of clicks.

At any rate, this latest IP-based initiative is a good one and suggests that Google is listening to advertisers (and maybe E-consultancy too!).