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April 5, 2006, 12:05 pm
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According to WebProNews.com and David Utter, Yahoo has made back room
deals with spyware vendors. If the spyware displays your ad you will be
invoiced as if it were a click. This is scary. Read the article I
received in my email this morning:
WebProNews Insider Report by David Utter
Advertisers who expect their Overture ad campaigns to run with certain
Yahoo Searches may be surprised to find their ads running in syndicated
spyware applications that render each impression as an ad click the
advertiser must pay.
Editor's Note: Ben Edelman has again made some damning claims about
Yahoo and its relationship with spyware vendors. Have your Overture
campaigns seen behavior that looks like click fraud? Tell us more at
When that click is paid, according to spyware researcher Ben Edelman,
Yahoo and the spyware vendor split the revenue. Edelman has followed up
his August 2005 research into spyware receiving payments from Yahoo's
Overture by noting an increase in this possible syndication fraud.
"In my August syndication fraud examples, an advertiser only pays Yahoo
if a user clicks the advertiser's ad. Not so for three of today's
examples. Here, spyware completely fakes a click -- causing Yahoo to
charge an advertiser a "pay-per-click" fee, even though no user
actually clicked on any pay-per-click link. This is "click fraud,"
Edelman documented three examples where actual click fraud took place.
He named 180solutions, Nbcsearch, and Look2me/Ad-w-a-r-e as culprits in
presenting popup ads that defrauded advertisers with Yahoo.
"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,"
His examples of this click fraud are not guesswork and assumptions. For
each case, Edelman provided a full packet log, annontated screenshots,
and video of the spyware-based click fraud taking place.
A fourth example of nefarious practices taking place involves the
practice of inserting pay-per-click links into text without the consent
of the publisher. Edelman displayed one example of this, a story about
Iraq from the New York Times website that had a third-party link
Edelman believes that Overture is the sole funding source for
Qklinkserver.com, which inserted the link. He diagrammed the process
that took place with this insertion:
The net effect of these practices is that advertisers pay Yahoo, then
Yahoo pays Intermix (Sirsearch), then Intermix pays
Searchdistribution.net which pays Qklinkserver.com / Srch-results.com.
Intermix, the parent of MySpace, is now owned by News Corp. Intermix
has been implicated in spyware schemes in the past, when the company
was investigated by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office
before News Corp purchased it.
While News Corp has been publicly cleaning up MySpace, it may need to
take a harder look at some of Intermix's other businesses. And Yahoo
should be doing these types of audits itself, instead of waiting for
Edelman or someone else to do them before correcting a problem.
About the Author:
David is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and
If you advertise with Yahoo I would suggest contacting them and ask for
details of where every click cam from.
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