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New service to reduce 'click fraud'

A new service has been launched, which its owner claims can help prevent 'click fraud', to help advertisers avoid paying for false leads to their Websites.

Greenlight says the service will deter people who have no intention of buying from clicking on sponsored links. It is aimed at companies that advertise on search engines and it works by monitoring IP addresses, to identify where clicks come from.

If the system detects unusual or irregular behaviour patterns a pop-up box appears on the user's screen asking them if they need assistance. It then notifies users that their activity is visible and warns them that action can be taken against them if they continue.

At the end of each month, Greenlight will run a suspect activity report and will use this information to identify malicious activities and make requests for compensation for any fraudulent clicks from search companies.

Greenlight CEO Warren Cowan believes that click fraud is recognised as an increasing problem, but without regulation in place, it can’t be controlled by search engines.

"Search engines are concerned that the industry is open to abuse and while some offer a monitoring service, they don't collaborate and share the information with each other. They can only identify abuse on their own systems," he said.

He added that advertisers are not always aware that they are victims of fraud.

"The higher the cost of a keyword, the likelier the chance of it being targeted, typically by a disgruntled employee or a competitor. If click fraud is to be eradicated, then search engines need to work together," Cowan said.

A case arose recently in the US, where an Arkansas gift retailer launched a lawsuit against major search engines including Google, Yahoo! and Ask Jeeves.

The shop, Lane's Gifts and Collectibles, has accused the search engines of charging for traffic to its site that was not from genuine customers.

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