Google, Yahoo, and Click Fraud

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The details of Google’s much-discussed click fraud settlement have been officially released to Adwords advertisers. Google’s attorneys have set up an info and claims site,, and they’re sending advertisers there for info. Too bad the site can’t handle the load – I tried to access it several times yesterday, and got a “server too busy” error every time.

On the whole, we’ve experienced far less click fraud with Google than with Yahoo. Up until about 6 months ago, I would have said that we didn’t really have a click fraud problem at all on the major engines (not to be confused with the second and third tier PPCs, however). Around the holidays, we started seeing pockets of Adsense fraud. No problem – Google was good about refunds, and we just blocked the offending sites with Site Exclusion. Problem solved. Yahoo, however, is another story. They don’t have site exclusion – it’s all or nothing with them. In February, we dropped the content network entirely. Prior to then, we’d gotten low volumes, but decent conversion. Suddenly, we started getting huge volumes of non-converting clicks. Dumping Content stopped most of the fraud, but there was still the ExactSeek problem (see this IHY thread for more info).

Not-so-coincidentally, Yahoo was slapped with their own click fraud lawsuit a couple of weeks ago. And even more not-so-coincidentally, traffic from ExactSeek disappeared! Since then, Yahoo has been our most consistent performer in the PPC arena – something I wouldn’t have dreamed of 3-6 months ago.

Click fraud in general, I think, is going to continue to be a hot button in the paid search space.

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