The Spam Diaries

News and musings about the fight against spam.
 by Edward Falk

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Yahoo! and click fraud

eWeek reports that anti-spyware activist Ben Edelman has published a report on how spyware is used to commit click fraud.

In August, Edelman issued a report entitled How Yahoo Funds Spyware. In this report, Edelman described how Yahoo!'s advertising partners made deals with Claria and other spyware vendors to show Yahoo! advertisements. Connections were also made to eXact, Direct Revenue, 180solutions, and other adware vendors.

In March, I wrote an article about how networks of advertising affiliates can make it very difficult to track adware to the advertisers. It's entirely possible that Yahoo! did not know they were dealing with spyware vendors in August, although they surely know it now.

However, I find it especially disturbing to know that Yahoo! is now forming a partnership with Claria.

In Tuesday's report, Edelman reports that the Yahoo!-spyware connection has grown worse, not better. Furthermore, Yahoo!-sponsored spyware is now comitting click fraud as well. 180solutions, Nbcsearch, eXact Advertising, Look2me, improvingyourlooks.com, and Ditto.com were named as dirty vendors.

Spyware even modifies the contents of third-party web pages when viewed on infected systems. The modifications insert hyperlinks where no such links existed before.

Similar problems were found with Google, although mostly involving bad syndication and not so much click fraud. Edelman plans to release a later report on Google.

Considering that Google recently paid $90 million to settle a click fraud lawsuit, I can only imagine the legal grief Yahoo! could be facing.

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