Yahoo, Spyware & Clickless Click Fraud

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Yahoo, Spyware & Clickless Click Fraud

Click fraud without clicks? Yahoo Search Marketing’s dealings with adware companies has always left a sour taste i nthe mouths of many surrounding the search company and its advertisers.

Ben Edelmen has just released a new study, dubbed The Spyware – Click-Fraud Connection — and Yahoo’s Role Revisited, which digs into sufficient detail of how some of these adware companies are performing click fraud without even having a user click on the ad.

Via redirects and spyware loading the pages of advertisers on unsuspecting computers, some of Yahoo’s largest partners are sticking it to their loyal advertisers.

Ben writes :

Advertisement syndication also creates a risk of click fraud. Suppose Yahoo contracts with some site X to show Yahoo’s ads. If a user clicks a Yahoo ad at X, Yahoo commits to pay X (say) half the advertiser’s payment to Yahoo. Then X has an incentive to click the Yahoo ads on its site — or to hire others to do so, or to build robots to do so.

Spyware syndication falls within the general problem of syndication-based click fraud. Suppose X, the Yahoo partner site, hires a spyware vendor to send users to its site and to make it appear as if those users clicked X’s Yahoo ads. Then advertisers will pay Yahoo, and Yahoo will pay X, even though users never actually clicked the ads. “

Ben gives examples of the fraud and the companies performing it along with diagrams and videos of Yahoo adware fraud in action as recent as April 2nd.

Ben wraps up the study with the obvious problems this info and Yahoo’s practices of dealing with adware companies or companies which funnel Yahoo syndicated ads via adware & spyware.

Here’s a quick summary:

Six distinct problems with the Yahoo practices and partners at issue.

* Click fraud. Through these improper ad displays, Yahoo charges advertisers for “clicks” that didn’t actually occur. This violates the core premise of pay-per-click advertising, i.e. that advertisers only pay if a user affirmatively shows interest in their ad.

* Untargeted traffic. Premium prices for PPC advertising reflect, in part, the extreme targeting of PPC leads: PPC ads are only supposed to be shown to users actively searching for the specified product, service, or term.

* Self-targeting traffic. Spyware-delivered PPC ads often target advertisers with their own ads.

* Failure to label sponsored links as such . Through spyware syndication, Yahoo PPC ads often appear on users’ screens without appropriate labeling.

* Low-quality traffic. Unaware users vs. more sophisticated searchers.

* Unethical spyware-sourced traffic. Nuff said, Yahoo should really work on cleaning up their backyard.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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