Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Google Ads, Clicks, and Fraud

Google, Yahoo and other providers of online ads said they are increasingly being targeted by online fraudsters, who exploit weaknesses in the Internet ad system to generate revenue or hurt their competitors. The Internet giants said they are working to combat the problem, but some advertisers accuse the companies of not moving aggressively enough because they also profit from the scams.

The tension comes as the click, click, click of the computer mouse steadily becomes the cyberspace equivalent of a cash register ringing up sales. These days, millions of computer users are clicking away on the small text ads set off from search engine results or other Web content, generating billions of dollars in fees paid annually by advertisers to Google and Yahoo and their Web partners.

...The single biggest difficulty, known in the industry as "click fraud," involves the repetitive ad clicking alleged by Google's lawsuit -- manually or automated -- by unscrupulous businesses trying to artificially inflate their own revenue or trying to hurt their competitors by driving up worthless ad spending.

"If there is anybody who says this is not a real problem, they are kidding you," said John Slade, a product manager with Yahoo.

Jessie Stricchiola, a click fraud expert who frequently represents advertisers seeking refunds from Google and Yahoo, estimates that click fraud accounts for as much as 20 percent of the clicks in some industry sectors. The president of, Stricchiola said tens of thousands of advertisers, who pay Google and Yahoo by credit card, are being overcharged daily...

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