Citysearch Accused Of Encouraging Click Fraud
IAC’s Citysearch.com picked up a lawsuit accusing it of ignoring and even helping to generate illicit clicks on ads placed on the local search site.
The Los Angeles-based firm of Kabateck Brown Kellner has been involved in click fraud lawsuits against the likes of Google and Yahoo in recent memory. They are in another one, this time targeting Citysearch, which is part of Barry Diller’s IAC umbrella of web properties.
Kabateck et al said they have filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of a client named Tom Lambotte; they accuse Citysearch of alleged shady practices surrounding its pay per click ads. The law firm issued a statement about the case:
“Most click fraud cases involve companies that simply turn a blind eye to it,” said the victims’ attorney, Brian S. Kabateck, Managing Partner of Kabateck Brown Kellner. “Citysearch does this too, since it has no real program to prevent click fraud. But Citysearch goes beyond indifference to actively incentivizing click fraud. Citysearch’s motive is simple: clicks equal cash, whether they’re fraudulent or not.”
Lambotte’s Citysearch ad received a total of 7 clicks (plus two more that he generated) between December 11 and 25, 2007. On December 26 he received a response from Citysearch to his December 22 request to cancel his ad. Suddenly, his ad began receiving 12 to 16 clicks a day, for a total of 69 clicks between December 26 and December 31, when his ad was finally cancelled. He received in these five days 10 times as many clicks as he had received in the previous two weeks. Despite this, Citysearch refused his repeated requests to reverse these charges.
Kabateck claimed the incentive structure for Citysearch ad salespeople encourages “an incentive for click fraud.” With commissions at stake, Kabateck suggested Citysearch staffers may be doing a little more than signing up advertisers.