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Yahoo Convinces Lawyers It’s Doing Its Best

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Looks like Yahoo! successfully sweet-talked Checkmate Strategic Group into settling its class action click fraud lawsuit, filed in June of 2005. The plaintiffs will receivea more forthcoming Yahoo!

The plaintiffs’ attorneys, however, will receive nearly $5 million for their trouble.

Just a couple of months ago Google had to shell out $90 million in a click fraud settlement, with $30 million going to lawyers. So how did Yahoo! get off so light? They invited the plaintiffs over for a raucous game of “find the click fraud.”

According to a statement from Yahoo!, Checkmate and its attorneys visited the Yahoo! campus to check out the company’s proprietary Clickthrough Protection (CTP) system, interview team members, and review their filtering data.

The conclusion: this stuff is really hard.

Yahoo! says that after thorough review, the Plaintiff’s counsel and their experts determined everything was on the up-and-up.

“We are very pleased with their finding, as it validates the effectiveness of our system, but we recognize that some advertisers may still have questions about certain clicks and that many advertisers want to hear more from Yahoo! with respect to click fraud and related issues,” said Reggie Davis, associate general counsel for Yahoo! and John Slade, senior director of Yahoo! Clickthrough Protection.

Under the terms of the settlement (and boy, did they settle!), Yahoo! agreed to take another look at some old claims, hire more people, join more groups, let you know when they’ll get back to you, and tell you more about themselves.

Chris Sherman at Search Engine Watch says that, unlike Google, Yahoo! is offering cash refunds as part of the settlement, but Yahoo!’s statement doesn’t mention it (unless me eyes they be a-failin’). Counsel for the plaintiff will receive $4.95 million in legal fees, said Sherman.

Yahoo! detailed the terms of the settlement in seven bullet points:

One-Time Extended Claims Period: Yahoo! will offer advertisers a one-time extended claims period during which advertisers can submit click fraud claims for clicks dating back through January 2004. If our investigation determines that a credit is due that was not given previously, we will issue a 100% credit, which can be used however the advertiser wishes to use it. This claims process will be overseen by a retired Federal judge.

Dedicated Traffic Quality Advocate: Yahoo! will appoint a Traffic Quality Advocate who will be dedicated entirely to addressing advertiser concerns about click fraud and traffic quality issues. This advocate will serve as the internal voice of the advertiser within Yahoo! on these matters.

Annual Access to CTP System and Team: To ensure that the advertising community has ongoing visibility into our Clickthrough Protection system, Yahoo! will host a panel of individual advertisers at our CTP headquarters once a year. During these visits, we will allow the advertisers to review our systems, meet with the CTP team and provide feedback on how we can continue to enhance our approach to fighting click fraud.

Industry-Wide Click Protection Efforts: Yahoo will work with a reputable third party toward building industry-wide efforts to combat click fraud, including development of industry-wide definitions of click fraud and a comprehensive lists of identified bots.

Traffic Quality Resource Center: Yahoo! will commit technical and human resources to build a Traffic Quality Resource Center, which will provide advertisers with more detailed information about traffic quality issues (including click fraud) and solutions via FAQs, advice columns, best practices guides and additional access to analytics tools.

Traffic Quality Inquiry Response Times: Yahoo! will provide advertisers who submit click fraud- or traffic quality-related inquiries with a time by which they will receive the results of Yahoo!’s investigation or, if the investigation is particularly complex, a status update.

Additional Traffic Quality Refund Detail: To provide advertisers with more clarity around refunds for click fraud and other traffic quality issues, Yahoo! will include additional detail in advertiser refund notices.

The attorneys for Lane’s Gifts and Collectibles have one word for Checkmate’s legal team: “suckers!” The preceding statement was completely false. At no time did we speak with Lane’s attorneys about the matter, nor did they use the word “sucker.” We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused with our poor attempt at satire.

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Yahoo Convinces Lawyers It’s Doing Its Best
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