As rumblings over click fraud reach a fevered pitch, the company that's received most of the flack has put out a report dismissing much of the concern as little more than the result of shoddy accounting.

Google unveiled its "How Fictitious Clicks Occur in Third-Party Click Fraud Audit Reports" white paper yesterday during a Search Engine Strategies conference panel discussing the very issue. In it, the company claims, "to date, we have not yet discovered a single legitimate vulnerability as the result of a third-party click fraud auditing report."

Presented by Google's Click Quality Team, the paper identifies what Google believes to be the true causes of so-called "fictitious clicks," or "events which are reported as fraudulent but do not appear within Google's logs as AdWords clicks." The company expresses concern that "erroneous information" from click fraud auditing firms has driven advertisers to change search campaign settings. Google also claims in the paper that its feedback has neither been met with positive response nor much interest from auditing firms.

The document reads, "We do believe that there is a place for third-party click auditing firms in the industry's value chain, but only for those who can deliver real value to all stakeholders. In fact we would value having true vulnerabilities in our invalid click detection systems pointed out to us. However, to date, we have not yet discovered a single legitimate vulnerability as the result of a third-party click fraud auditing report."

Google singles out third party click auditors AdWatcher, ClickFacts and Click Forensics, providing examples of data files in the paper that the search giant says illustrate examples of "fictitious clicks." Research firm Outsell is also mentioned in the report as hyping the click fraud problem.

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