PPC Fraud Fighters: Yahoo and Click Forensics Partner Up

Usually foes in the ongoing click-fraud debate, Yahoo and Click Forensics announce a joint venture. Plus, tips from the experts on battling bogus clicks.
When it comes to click fraud, search engine companies and click-fraud tracking firms are generally on opposing sides of the argument — disagreeing over how much scamming exists and what should be done about it — but that's changed with the recent announcement that Yahoo and Click Forensics are partnering up to battle bogus clicks.

Given the ongoing debate, the Search Engine Strategy seminar held in New York City March 17, "Auditing Paid Listings and Click Fraud Issues," framed-up to be an interesting confrontation. Among the speakers were Google's Shuman Ghosemajumder, business product manager for trust and safety, Yahoo's "click fraud czar" Reggie Davis, vice president, marketplace quality, and their most prominent nemesis, Tom Cuthbert, CEO of Click Forensics, whose stock in trade has been convincing Internet advertisers of the perils of click fraud on search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

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Seminar speaker Jon Myers, head of search at MediaVest, quipped that in a prize fight Google's Shuman Ghosemajumder at five-feet-four-inches and 140 pounds would be no match for his Yahoo counterpart, the six-foot-four-inch, 250-pound Reggie Davis. Fortunately matters did not come to that, though Ghosemajumder found himself double teamed at the seminar by Davis's announcement that Yahoo teamed up with Click Forensics in a partnership that will share pay-per-click site-side advertising data and cooperate in finding poor quality traffic, including click fraud.

Although the deal was signed four to six weeks prior to the seminar, this was the first public announcement of the partnership and marked the first time a search engine partnered-up to share its click fraud data with a third party.

Yahoo and Click Forensics to Fight Fraud
Though details of exactly how the partnership will function aren't being made public, the companies did say that advertisers will be able to use Click Forensics to anonymously share information that could help reduce click fraud and that Click Forensics will be a "click auditor" and help advertisers better understand their click data.

"We're not going to pick up a bat and swing it at Click Forensics and say, 'their wrong, their wrong, their wrong.' We welcome the opportunity to work with anybody who can bring value to the table and help us and our advertisers drive a better return on investment," Davis said.

Despite the ground-breaking partnership between Yahoo and Click Forensics, when queried during a post-seminar Q&A, Davis still estimated the amount of click fraud on Yahoo to be between two and five percent, a fraction of what Click Forensics and other search data auditing firms have found. Davis blames much of the fraud on low-quality traffic, such as that spawned from social networking sites.

For years, Google's Ghosemajumder has refuted Cuthbert's and other auditing company reports on the percentage of click fraud, implying they are scaremongering and grossly exaggerated. If Ghosemajumder was surprised by the news of the partnership, other than for several brief scowls, he appeared unfazed, and gave no indication that Google would be sharing its click fraud data anytime soon.

A prize-winning debater, Ghosemajumder kept 'swinging the bat' at Click Forensics, maintaining as he always has that nearly all click fraud is discovered by Google's filters and amounts to single-digit percentages, nearly all of which is reimbursed to advertisers. Regarding the Click Forensics claim bogus clicks are up to 16.6 percent, (as reported in its Click Fraud Index,) Ghosemajumder said that Click Forensics data is gathered from a network of advertisers sensitive to click fraud.

Paraphrasing marketing blogger Andy Beal's now-famous analogy, Ghosemajumder said it is like going into a hospital and asking who doesn't feel well: "Then assuming that the entire U.S. population is sick." Given its industry position and it net profit of 40 percent on paid advertising, Google's stance on click fraud is to be expected, 'ethics' notwithstanding.

(Continue to Page 2 for Tips from the Experts on Preventing Click Fraud)

Tags: IT, Internet, Yahoo, OS

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