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A Penny For Your Click Fraud?

Jason Lee Miller
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-04-28

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Can you guess who benefits most from Google's $90 million click fraud settlement? You get three guesses, first two don't count. That's right! The plaintiffs' attorneys will receive $30 million. Advertisers opting for the settlement will receive less than a percent of their total claim in Google advertising credit.

(Counting on my fingers) That leaves $60 million to be divided among advertisers who accept the terms of the still preliminary settlement in the Arkansas case involving Lane's Gifts and Collectibles. David Utter reported on the settlement in March:

This agreement covers all advertisers who claim to have been charged but not reimbursed for invalid clicks dating from 2002 when we launched our "cost per click" advertising program through the date the settlement is approved by the judge.

Under the terms of the agreement, still up for approval by an Arkansas judge, customers will be refunded about one half a percent (0.5 percent). That only affects current and future Google advertisers, says Kabateck Brown Kellner LLP, who represents Adwords customers in AIT v. Google. Former customers will receive nothing.

The firm's Brian Kabateck thinks the settlement is unacceptable. Kabateck balks at Google's corporate tagline, "You can make money without doing evil."

"Amazingly," he said, "Google apparently doesn't see cheating its customers out of billions of dollars as doing evil."

Final approval of the settlement will be decided in July. Kabateck says he plans to file appeals challenging the settlement in federal court and in state court in Arkansas.

"If Google customers do not opt out, they will be forced to abide by the settlement," he said. To opt out, customers must submit a written and signed statement requesting exclusion from the class.

A Google spokesperson related to WebProNews that Kabateck, who says AdWords customers will only receive 0.5 percent of verifiable fraudulent clicks, is mischaracterizing the terms of the settlement.

The spokesperson said that Google would honor 0.5 percent of the total spend claimed by advertisers who felt they had lost money to click fraud, and advertisers would not have to prove how much click fraud occurred.

Instead of, for example, receiving $50 in credit for $10,000 in click fraud claims, Google will refund $50 in credit for $10,000 in total advertising spending and will not put the burden of proof on those claiming damaging.

Of course, $60 million is the cap on that.

The most recent click fraud reports say that the fraudulent clicks make up about 13 percent of the total at Google. The same Google spokesperson said those numbers do not include what Google throws out as fraudulent, clicks for which customers are never charged.

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About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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