I’ve always believed that click fraud was a bigger PR problem than actual problem for the search engines. Of course there have been raging debates about the percentage of “invalid clicks” that advertisers were receiving and what the click fraud numbers actually are. But the engines historically took the “black box” position that they were dealing with the problem and working diligently to address it. But they also tended to address it reactively via litigation rather than getting out “in front” of the issue – at least in public.
Last August, the IAB and search engines came together to jointly form a group to create click quality standards and address the issue of click fraud as an industry. And now Yahoo has smartly appointed Reggie Davis as “Vice President of Marketplace Quality.”
This is an important, if overdue, move. Davis is an attorney who was previously responsible for managing litigation and external litigation counsel for Yahoo. In this new role, according to the press release that went out:
Davis is responsible for developing and executing a strategy aimed at driving more rapid innovation, greater transparency and faster delivery of product and service enhancements to build an even higher quality advertising network for Yahoo!’s customers. Davis will hire a dedicated staff to manage across all of Yahoo!’s cross-functional quality teams and ensure that customer input is integrated into all efforts to address click fraud, traffic quality, network placement and other marketplace quality issues. Davis and his team will also be responsible for increasing Yahoo!’s dialogue with advertisers and publishers on quality related matters.
As part of the discussion with bloggers and reporters yesterday, introducing Davis, Yahoo disclosed that there was an average of between 12% and 15% clicks that were filtered or not charged to search marketers. Davis was careful to explain that this was not a click fraud number, which was a smaller figure.
Davis said his appointment to a VP level position was part of a larger organizational initiative and commitment to bring more transparency to the issue of click quality and be much more open and proactive with search marketers to address their concerns and generally enhance customer relations. As a long-term approach to the marketplace Yahoo recognizes this is much better than managing litigation after the fact.
As they say, an ounce of prevention . . .