"Online ad fraud is evolving in sophistication all the time. Fighting it demands vigilance and dedication to an honest and secure online marketplace. We believe that a trusted marketplace is critical to Internet commerce, and Microsoft will continue to take aggressive action working with industry and law enforcement to protect our platforms, customers and advertisers," said Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel for Microsoft.
PPC fraud, also known as click fraud, is a type of Internet fraud in online advertising that occurs when a person, automated script or computer program imitates a legitimate website visitor by clicking on an ad to generate a charge-per-click without having actual interest in the target of the ads link. Microsoft adCenter monitors click traffic carefully to prevent advertisers from being charged for non-valid clicks, and Microsoft has been active in investigating and taking action against click fraud when found, including taking legal action where necessary.
Click laundering is a newly uncovered form of click fraud in which technical measures are used to make invalid ad clicks appear to originate from legitimate sources. Through various means, including malware programs, fraudsters are able to trick innocent Internet users into visiting websites where they unknowingly click on advertisements. Click launderers also can further disguise the origin of those invalid clicks by using scripts and other methods to alter information that is sent to the ad platform.
"Microsoft is filing these lawsuits to help protect its ad platform and promote the integrity of online advertising for the benefit of all legitimate advertisers, to stop the fraudulent behavior, and to recover the damages caused by the click laundering," Microsoft said in a statement.
This week, Microsoft closed another lawsuit the company filed in 2009 regarding click fraud in auto insurance verticals and World of Warcraft, following a successful settlement with defendant Eric Lam. Terms of the settlement are confidential, but the lawsuit successfully brought the click fraud activities described in the complaint to an end and helped Microsoft further refine and evolve its approach to combating click fraud.