Disputes over the issue have resulted in a number of lawsuits. In one case, Google (acting as both an advertiser and advertising network) won a lawsuit against a Texas company called Auction Experts (acting as a publisher), which Google accused of paying people to click on ads that appeared on Auction Experts’ site, costing advertisers $50,000. Despite networks’ efforts to stop it, publishers are suspicious of the motives of the advertising networks, because the advertising network receives money for each click, even if it is fraudulent.
Proving click fraud can be very difficult, since it is hard to know who is behind a computer and what their intentions are. Often, the best an advertising network can do is to identify which clicks are most likely fraudulent, and not charge the account of the advertiser. Ever more sophisticated means of detection are used, but none are foolproof.
The pay-per-click industry is lobbying for tighter laws on the issue. Many hope to have laws that will cover those not bound by contracts.
A number of companies are developing viable solutions for click fraud identification and are developing intermediary relationships with advertising networks. Such solutions fall into two categories:
a) Forensic analysis of advertisers’ web server log files
This analysis of the advertiser’s web server data requires an in-depth look at the source and behavior of the traffic. As industry standard log files are used for the analysis, the data is verifiable by advertising networks.
b) Third-party corroboration