Click Forensics: Click fraud rate hits record level

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Click fraud – clicking on a Web ad to bogusly boost its click-through rate - has risen 17.1%, the highest level recorded by Click Forensics since it began tracking in 2006, according to its fourth quarter pay-per-click (PPC) fraud report.

In Q3, the rate was 16%, according to the online traffic quality management services provider.

Click fraud traffic from botnets also rose to its highest level, garnering 31.4% of all click fraud traffic in the quarter.

“During any downturn, unfortunately, people are trying to find creative ways to make money,” said Tom Cuthbert president of Click Forensics.

“Historically crime, and now cyber crime, has gone up and has been increasing the past two years,” he said. “If you think about the problem with spam – how it's not being resolved, just being managed – click fraud is the same way. It's very difficult to catch, and it's more sophisticated. Because of that it's a growing problem and one that advertisers should be concerned about.”

Cuthbert also noted a rise in click farm activity.

“In Q4, there was a significant increase in individuals clicking on ads intentionally to make money on them, particularly within the content networks,” he said.

The most important thing online advertisers can do, Cuthbert said, is to consistently monitor online campaigns for spikes in activity as click fraud tends to come in waves or specific attacks.

“When they do find this type of activity, advertisers should definitely alert the ad provider and search providers,” he said. “It really takes all of us working together to solve it. It's simply not going to go away on its own. More cooperation is something that's really needed.”

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