Microsoft Drops the Hammer on Click Fraud

It looks like Microsoft is taking some action against click fraud, filing its first lawsuit for the crime against three people in Vancouver and a few other unnamed parties.

While the software developer and recent parent to Bing is seeking $750,000 in damages, one of its major reasons for filing the lawsuit is that it wants to be more active on the enforcement side of fraud cases. They want to create a deterrent for would-be participants in click fraud. In a recent NYT article, Tim Cranton, associate general counsel for Microsoft said:

“We think there’s a good place for enforcement, basically to say, ‘You think this is a game, cat and mouse, back and forth. At some point, once we figure out who you are, we’re going to hold you accountable for it, it’s going to be expensive, and we’re going to deter you from doing it because you’re ripping off advertisers and people online.’ “

Whoa. He sounds pretty serious. You hear that scammers? Microsoft click-police are on patrol and out to get you! And why shouldn’t they? The article goes on to say that there are already stiff legal penalties for wire and mail fraud. Why not click fraud? Good point.

This certainly won’t be the last click fraud lawsuit filed by Microsoft, or other search engines for that matter, but it will at least help set a legal precedent.

What does this mean for all those Bing paid ads? It means the streets might be a little safer, at least for those navigating through Microsoft’s neighborhood.

While most, if not all, PPC managers run some sort of click fraud monitoring system already, it’s nice to see the search engines actively pursuing some click-justice on behalf of its users. They’re lending a helping hand to make the online ad space friendlier. It’s anything but a “Problem Solved!” type of situation for PPC managers battling click fraud, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.