March 23, 2006, 12:00 AM

Google’s proposed click fraud settlement: a boon to some

Google’s proposed $90 million settlement over click fraud allegations could benefit advertisers willing to accept reimbursement in the form of Google ad credits. The buzz could benefit providers of click fraud detection services as well.


Google’s proposed $90 million settlement of a lawsuit over click fraud allegations is potentially good news for advertisers who believe they’ve been a victim of click fraud on Google in the past-if they can prove it, and if they want reimbursement for fraudulent clicks in the form of advertising credits on Google, the only form of reimbursement included in the proposal.

But the settlement, which still needs court approval, and the light it’s shone on click fraud unquestionably will benefit those providing technology and services to online marketers seeking to ensure that click fraud doesn’t happen to them in the future. At search marketing company Zunch Communications Inc., inquiries and leads on the company’s click fraud detection technology are up about one-third since news of Google’s pending settlement broke, says Jeff Martin, director of click fraud services and PPC auditing.

“There was some activity before. But this is going to make the people who were on the fence about click fraud, who maybe didn’t think it was an issue for them, think,” he says.

Martin calls web server log files-the only way to hunt down click fraud retrospectively for those without click fraud monitoring services in place- “the last line of defense” against click fraud. However, “Marketers don’t really have time to go over all the data in the log files to try to find if they had a potential case to warrant approaching the search engines,” he says.

Zunch’s Click Fraud Detective, and products like it, audit traffic automatically as it comes in, storing that information for a retrospective view, if needed, starting at the time the tool is implemented. In the case of Zunch’s product, he notes, the marketer using it sets alert thresholds on variables such as the frequency of the appearance of a single IP address, for example. As these thresholds are exceeded, the marketer gets an alert in real time and can run reports on those variables to determine if there is a trend, if a further probe is needed, and if it should be reported to the engine as potential click fraud, he adds.



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