free html hit counter Microsoft Goes After Click Fraudsters - John Battelle's Search Blog

Microsoft Goes After Click Fraudsters

By - June 15, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve seen click fraud in the news, but this Times story caught my eye, in particular because it was Microsoft. Google usually gets all the headlines around this issue, but it’s interesting to see Microsoft leading the charge in this arena. The story is worth reading, it sheds some light on the darker underpinnings of the search economy. From it:

Microsoft’s theory is that Mr. Lam was running or working for low-ranking sites that took potential client information for auto insurers. The complaint said that he directed traffic to competitors’ Web sites so they would pay for those clicks and exhaust their advertising budgets quickly, which let the lower-ranking sites that he sponsored move up in the paid-search results.

When people clicked through to his site, it asked them to supply contact information, which he then resold to auto insurance companies, according to Microsoft’s complaint, which estimated his profit at $250,000. In the complaint, it also said it had to credit back $1.5 million to advertisers because of the Lams’ alleged fake clicks. Microsoft is seeking $750,000 in damages from the defendants.

Although small advertisers have sued search firms, complaining the firms did not do enough to prevent fraudulent clicks, this is among the first cases where a search provider has gone after a suspected perpetrator.

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5 thoughts on “Microsoft Goes After Click Fraudsters

  1. Beijing Tour says:

    On the face of it, this looks great, both for Microsoft being proactive in addressing click fraud and as a warning for other fraudulent businesses such as this scam that “Mr. Lam” was running. I have never been a big fan of Microsoft, but news like this, even though it obviously helps Microsoft itself more than its advertisers, is good to hear.

  2. There is so much fraud out there I’m surprised online advertisers are as sanguine as they appear.

    A huge part of the whole online advertising game is getting in between the buyer and the seller and taking a cut. Googel, Yahoo!, MSN etc. profit mightily from it. BOTH paid and organic search are part of the game.

    However they have to do just enough to seem like they are actually trying.

  3. Click fraud has been online since PPC was introduced. Well as they say… as long as there is a demand for PPC, click fraud will always be around one way or another.

    The best way is to focus on organic search.

  4. Diamonds says:

    Hate these fraud clicks, it just eats up our advertising budget. Google does something to reduce this, they basically check out the IP address of these clicks, if lets say in a period of 5 minutes there are 20 clicks from the same IP address, they will consider this as fraud and reimburse. Its what the data they showed me and was lead to believe but the problem is I can’t really prove any of this unless it is really extreme.

  5. You must remember this: A click is just a click.