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In March 2007, Yahoo named Reggie Davis its vice president of marketplace quality. The headlines hailed him as Yahoo's new "click fraud czar." Tom Cuthbert, president of Click Forensics, a search-marketing researcher, told CNET the move signaled "Yahoo is taking a more honest approach" to fighting click fraud." So what does it say about Yahoo's "honest approach" now that a tipster tells us Davis got the pink slip?

That Cuthbert got the reasons for Davis's hire hilariously wrong, and that his rumored pink slip indicates Yahoo is, at last, treating the problem seriously. Booted from Yahoo's legal team, Davis only got the "meaningless job as VP for click fraud," our tipster tells us, as "a bogus saving-face job thanks to sucking up to Sue [Decker]." Update: Davis now says he's still in place at Yahoo, so the sucking up must have been truly effective.

Google, Yahoo and everyone else in the search industry will tell you they're fighting click fraud as much as they can. And they are. Mostly by giving advertisers a discount that far exceeds the number of possibly questionable clicks, for show.

The truth is, as Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a moment of unguarded honesty a couple summers ago, if illegitimate clicks really do find their way into cost-per-click markets, advertisers will account for it in how much they value each click, and pay less for them. Making jobs like the one Reggie Davis held until yesterday still holds as redundant as everyone but Yahoo figured out long ago.

(Photo by My Hobo Soul)