Click Fraud: Yahoo pledges quality, what about audits?

As Associate General Counsel, Yahoo, Reggie Davis negotiated a settlement last year in the class action lawsuit matter of Checkmate Strategic Group, Inc. vs.

As Associate General Counsel, Yahoo, Reggie Davis negotiated a settlement last year in the class action lawsuit matter of Checkmate Strategic Group, Inc. vs. Yahoo Inc., which alleged breach of contract and unfair business practices, including improper collection of revenue for clicks that were click fraud. 

Now, as newly appointed Vice President of Marketplace Quality (a Yahoo position required by the very settlement), Davis announces final judicial approval of the settlement:

"Judge Snyder's final approval of the settlement validates the strength of Yahoo's clickthrough protection systems and our commitment to delivering a quality experience to both our advertisers and our consumers. Our commitment does not stop here. Quality is a top priority for Yahoo and we have a clear roadmap for how we’re going to create the highest quality search advertising network in the industry," as cited by Search Engine Watch.

Are congratulations really in order, as Davis intimates? Should Yahoo advertisers breath a collective sigh of click fraud relief because Yahoo says it has a “clear roadmap” to “quality”?

The financial substance of the negotiated settlement, as put forth by Yahoo to its shareholders:

One-Time Extended Claims Period: Yahoo will offer advertisers a one-time extended claims period during which advertisers can submit click fraud claims for clicks dating back through January 2004. If our investigation determines that a credit is due that was not given previously, we will issue a 100% credit, which can be used however the advertiser wishes to use it. This claims process will be overseen by a retired Federal judge.

What financial satisfaction is Yahoo really guaranteeing to advertisers who believe they were improperly billed by Yahoo? Nothing apparent.Yahoo commits to reviewing advertiser claims, but will decide whether advertisers' claims are worthy of receiving credits or not.

If “quality is a top priority for Yahoo,” Davis can reassure advertisers in one fell swoop by committing to third party “auditing and certification.”

Last August, during a SES panel, I asked John Slade, Yahoo Search Marketing, if Yahoo would commit to upholding the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) “auditing and certification recommendations” under development in conjunction with the IAB Click Measurement Guideline initiative.

I also asked panel member Shuman Ghosemajumder, Google Trust & Safety, the same question.

Both Slade and Ghosemajumder, committed, on behalf of their companies, to accept third party independent click fraud audits.

Since that exchange, both Google and Yahoo have made several public statements on their click fraud initiatives, but neither company has addressed the issue of third party independent click fraud audits.

Once more, “Google, Yahoo click fraud audits: When will advertisers demand them?

ALSO: "Why Yahoo really needs click fraud ‘Czar’"


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