Google and Yahoo! target click fraud

22 Mar 2007

In a bid to crack down on click fraud, Yahoo! has appointed Reggie Davis, company attorney, as vice-president of marketplace quality in order to reassure their customers of the integrity of their advertising service.

Before taking on this new role, Davis already managed Yahoo’s click fraud litigation.

In a similar move, Google is attempting to combat click fraud by beta-testing “pay-per-action”. This service will allow advertisers to pay Google for a specific action such as signing up for a newsletter, rather than paying for a simple “click-through”.

Google’s AdSense or AdWords and Yahoo!’s Search Marketing are the biggest players in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and both have previously settled class-action suits that accused them of failing to protect their customers from click fraud.

Click fraud occurs when an individual or computer program masquerades as a legitimate user of a web browser by clicking on an ad with the express purpose of incurring a charge for the advertiser with no intention of visiting the target of the ad’s link.

Google claims to already detect the difference between “valid” and “invalid” clicks and on that basis doesn’t charge their customers incorrectly.

It defines an “invalid” click in its small print as “repeated manual clicking or the use of robots, automated clicking tools, or other deceptive software”.

However, Tom Cuthbert, president of Texas-based company Click Forensics, has suggested a different way to deal with click fraud.

Cuthbert claimed that there is a need for companies like Click Forensics to provide independent auditing for PPC advertisers.

By Marie Boran