Click Forensics, Yahoo take on click-fraud cases

The click-fraud auditor says it built software in partnership with Yahoo that lets advertisers automatically deal with the costs of fraudulent clicks in a search ad campaign.

Click fraud, or the act of clicking on text search ads for ill-gotten gains, is the nuisance of the multibillion-dollar search industry.

So Click Forensics, one of the largest independent click-fraud auditors, has teamed up with Yahoo to take some of the pain out of the process for advertisers that want to recoup costs associated with fraudulent clicks.

Click Forensics on Wednesday said it built software in partnership with Yahoo that lets advertisers automatically query Yahoo when Click Forensics detects click fraud in a search-advertising campaign. Called Factr, or Fully Automated Click Tracking Reconciliation, the software is a new feature of Click Forensics' ad-auditing service, which can cost advertisers anywhere between $250 monthly and thousands of dollars a month, depending on an account's size.

"We're trying to automate what has been a tedious manual process for online advertisers," said Steve O'Brien, vice president of marketing for Click Forensics, based in Austin, Texas. "With a click of a mouse, advertisers can say, 'I want this report submitted to Yahoo, and I want verification from Yahoo that I'm getting what I paid for.' We handle the rest in (the) background."

Click Forensics estimates that about 16.3 percent of all search advertising traffic is related to click fraud.

So why isn't Google involved with project? O'Brien said that to date, Google has taken a different attitude toward click fraud, assuring advertisers that it has a fail-safe means of tracking rogue clicks and that it doesn't charge for it. Still, he said, "We're in conversations with them."

But with a new search pact between Yahoo and Google, advertisers could wind up receiving better customer service from Yahoo for the same campaigns.

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