Yahoo made a public commitment Wednesday to “provide more clarity about our click protection efforts and significantly more transparency to advertisers in the future.” Yahoo’s commitment to publicly fight against click fraud was announced as part of a settlement of a class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by Checkmate Strategic Group, Inc.
The suit alleged that Yahoo failed to do enough to track or prevent click fraud. According to Yahoo, as part of its settlement, it has agreed to:
• 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.
• Dedicated Traffic Quality Advocate: Yahoo! will appoint a Traffic Quality Advocate who will be dedicated entirely to addressing advertiser concerns about click fraud and traffic quality issues. This advocate will serve as the internal voice of the advertiser within Yahoo! on these matters.
• Annual Access to CTP System and Team: To ensure that the advertising community has ongoing visibility into our Clickthrough Protection system, Yahoo! will host a panel of individual advertisers at our CTP headquarters once a year. During these visits, we will allow the advertisers to review our systems, meet with the CTP team and provide feedback on how we can continue to enhance our approach to fighting click fraud.
• Industry-Wide Click Protection Efforts: Yahoo will work with a reputable third party toward building industry-wide efforts to combat click fraud, including development of industry-wide definitions of click fraud and a comprehensive lists of identified bots.
• Traffic Quality Resource Center: Yahoo! will commit technical and human resources to build a Traffic Quality Resource Center, which will provide advertisers with more detailed information about traffic quality issues (including click fraud) and solutions via FAQs, advice columns, best practices guides and additional access to analytics tools.
Additionally, according to Yahoo, it commits to:
• Traffic Quality Inquiry Response Times: Yahoo! will provide advertisers who submit click fraud- or traffic quality-related inquiries with a time by which they will receive the results of Yahoo!'s investigation or, if the investigation is particularly complex, a status update.
• Additional Traffic Quality Refund Detail: To provide advertisers with more clarity around refunds for click fraud and other traffic quality issues, Yahoo! will include additional detail in advertiser refund notices.
If Yahoo’s public commitment to prevent, identify and redress click fraud problems is followed by real, meaningful action, it will provide Yahoo with a valuable, differentiating advantage over Google in their ongoing competitive battle.
Google’s response to a class action click fraud lawsuit filed by Lane’s Gifts in Arkansas:
You may remember that last February, Google was sued in Arkansas over what is commonly called click fraud… We’ve been discussing the case with the plaintiffs for some time and have recently come to an agreement with them which we believe is a good outcome for everyone involved… For all eligible invalid clicks, we will offer credits which can be used to purchase new advertising with Google. We do not know how many will apply and receive credits, but under the agreement, the total amount of credits, plus attorneys fees, will not exceed $90 million…
We have said for some time that we believe we manage the problem of invalid clicks very well. We have a large team of expert engineers and analysts devoted to it. By far, most invalid clicks are caught by our automatic filters and discarded *before* they reach an advertiser’s bill. And for the clicks that are not caught in advance, advertisers can notify Google and ask for reimbursement. We investigate those clicks, and if we determine they were invalid, we reimburse advertisers for them. We will continue to do that, and believe that this settlement is further proof of our willingness to work together with advertisers to reimburse invalid clicks.
Contrast the settlement agreement of Yahoo versus the settlement agreement of Google:
Reimbursement of advertisers
• YAHOO "we will issue a 100% credit, which can be used however the advertiser wishes to use it."
• GOOGLE "we will offer credits which can be used to purchase new advertising with Google."
Acknowledgement of click fraud problem
• YAHOO Detailed six-prong, plan (outlined above) to “move forward to work more closely with our advertisers and others across the industry to fight click fraud.”
• GOOGLE “We have said for some time that we believe we manage the problem of invalid clicks very well…for the clicks that are not caught in advance, advertisers can notify Google and ask for reimbursement… believe that this settlement is further proof of our willingness to work together with advertisers to reimburse invalid clicks.”