A question for Player_16
I've never really looked into Click Fraud before, so much like Benny I was kinda confused by how this can be deemed as it. In your response, you said...
"If someone clicks on an ad, Google pays the publisher of the add and collects a fee from the advertiser."
...this may well be a stupid question but I don't get who Google (or Microsoft or Yahoo) pays. I thought they were the publisher, as they are the ones publishing the advert. From your post, it sounds as though this isn't the case.
I understand how this threesome could be making money, as described in the article...
"Redmond suspects that Lam was hitting competitors with fake clicks so they would quickly exhaust their daily ad budgets. That way, his ads would pop to the top of Microsoft's listings. Microsoft's complaint says that when surfers clicked through to Lam's sites, he would collect their info and sell it on to auto insurance companies."
...So, as I understand it, they weren't actually getting any money from Microsoft..? Rather, they caused their competitors' adverts to get removed so that their own adverts would appear instead. Then they harvested the data of the users who clicked their ads and sold that data to those companies whose adverts they had caused to get removed.
So the genuine insurance companies got stung twice... once because they had paid Microsoft to publish adverts which weren't really being seen by their intended audience, and then again because they were buying data from Messieurs Lam and Madame Suen (although this was presumably their own choice).
I've gotta admit that I'm still not sure why Microsoft are suing these people. They clicked the links repeatedly (or arranged for others to click them).... what's to stop me from unintentionally doing the same. Am I breaking the law if I click a link, which is only there to be clicked, more than once?
Sheesh, this is all kinda confusing. I'm off to read up on encryption algorithms... at least that makes sense!