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The Bratwurst Defense

There’s been a lot of discussion going on about The Sausage Manifesto, a great peice of writing by Jeffrey K. Rohrs that is an open letter to the major search engines about some of the problems with pay-per-click advertising. Mr. Rohrs is living right out on the cutting edge of click fraud, and talking about something even more radical – auditing.

For M Show fans that appreciate the explanation of the Inside Baseball – those paid ads in Google on the right charge the advertisers every time somebody clicks on them. The people who advertise alot (hundreds of thousands of dollars per month) are starting to wonder about the quality of those clicks – there’s an obvious incentive to support anything that generates clicks, and more importantly – there’s an economic penalty to investigate or actively prevent fraudulent clicks that make money for everyone except the advertiser.

If you’ve read the manifesto, read on, if not and you are not sure what I am talking about, click the link above to check out the whole thing. If you already understand pay-per-click and click fraud you can jump to the major points by starting here.

For the amusement of all I decided to try my hand at a rough draft response for the search providers.
1. Talk don’t lecture – it’s not that we think you are children, the problem is that there are millions of you and you have millions of questions. It’s not possible to do one-on-one, everything must be based on algorithm, that’s how this model scales. (Ronin comment – maybe they want to get the top 500 customers in a room and start there? But I almost worry more about that for the rest of the world.)

2. Unique circumstances? We’re the most powerful information system on the planet right now (until wikipedia kicks our ass to the curb), we got there first, we got the loot. We’re unique – you are ants (see #1).

3. Invest in proportion to the problem – as long as we keep the data hidden in the black box we’re all set. Shut up and enjoy your sausage.

4. Tracking alone is not the answer – Yes, but you’re willing to pay for the clicks even though I don’t even give you the number of conversions in a default view. It’s easier to make you dig for it, or better yet – get tired of digging and get back to stuffing your face with the sausage.

5. More customer service – ROFLMMFAO! Right, when in the history of the world has anyone added service without adding a premium pricing plan. Like that’s gonna happen. I have a better chance of getting good service at a retail store in the mall.

6. Click Quality Education Resource Center – Hmmm, build a marginally effective school that eats up the revenue – sorry, you’ve got us confused with Public Schools. (Ronin comment: I was educated in the public schools and I feel I was well prepared for the world.)
7. Get the IAB involved – Silence. (Ronin comment: Adding an industry association would be turning the sausage dial up to 11, but that’s just my personal bias.)

8. Click fraud firms – silent stare. subject begins to perspire. (Ronin comment – I LOVE THESE GUYS. This is the coolest field, these guys are the new Eliot Ness posse rolling into town. They are blowing on the fuse on the dynamite to get it to burn faster. You are the Jack Bauers of search. Let the questioning begin!)

9. Punish the guilty – Why waste money on litigation against someone that could be your best customer next week. Besides we know the courts are going to be behind on this for maybe even 10 years and we haven’t even been around that long. We are beyond the law.

10. SCMODS for the Perps (sorry for the oblique Blues Brothers reference) – We don’t want to punish those who know the system best (see #9). And building an offender database is pretty Big Brother don’t you think? (Ronin – I like this one a whole lot too. The auditors could do this amongst themselves and start printing money. I think I’m in the wrong industry.)

11. Give me data or give me death! – There’s no defense for this one, something will have to be done. But maybe we’ll only listen to a class action suit – I’m sure there are no attorneys out there looking for a deep pocket with only $152B in market cap out there. Or better yet, we’ll just wait for the federal regulation.

That’s it folks, I’m done channeling. In case you couldn’t tell, today is the first real day of winter cold here in the northeast. That’s why we get cranky.

Why can’t an engine with volume just switch to a pay per conversion? I’d pay 10x for that…

Thanks to Mr. Rohrs for starting a great discussion.