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Click Fraud Worries Continues

Posted on 7.19.2007
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There's a new report available from the Click Fraud Network stating that the overall industry average click fraud rate increased 1.7% in the second quarter of 2007 to 15.8%. The main reason for the increase put forth by the Click Fraud Network for the increasing instances of click fraud is a noticeable increase in botnets, parked domain sites, and made-for-AdSense (MFA) sites.

“We’re not surprised to see the industry average click fraud rate climb this quarter as a result of botnet activity,” said Robert Hansen, CEO of SecTheory. “Our clients are well aware that botnet activity is on the rise and that botnets are being used for a variety of online fraud activities, including click fraud.”

The thing about click fraud however is that even though these clicks occur it does not necessarily mean that advertisers were charged for them. Of course, this does not prevent those that benefit from the presence of poor quality clicks to capitalize on the problem, regardless of its estimated scope. Case in point:

“Click fraud has become the new spam and it’s clearly a problem that is getting worse, not better,” said Tom Cuthbert, president and CEO of Click Forensics, Inc. “A significant percentage of today’s click fraud traffic can be attributed to two growing areas of concern for search advertisers – traffic that comes from botnets and from parked domains or made-for-ad sites. Advertisers running campaigns on content networks are especially vulnerable as they are increasingly targets of this growing pool of savvy fraudsters.”

Both Google and Yahoo however had something to say about the report in an article on from Elinor Mills:

"Yahoo is also actively pursuing numerous new quality initiatives that provide advertisers with more control over and visibility into the quality of their traffic. We've recently launched new features and functionality--like quality-based pricing and enhanced geo-targeting tools--for advertisers and we plan to introduce additional controls like domain blocking in the coming months," Reggie Davis, vice president of marketplace quality, said in a statement.

Google released a statement that said: "These estimates continue to count clicks Google does not charge to advertisers as fraudulent, so they are not actually click fraud estimates. Furthermore, their estimates have never reflected the invalid click rates we see at Google. It is also worth noting that in all of 2007, only two advertisers have contacted us regarding click fraud data from Click Forensics, and in both cases we found that the suspicious activity was not charged for in the first place."

Defeat Click Fraud
How do you stop click-fraud? Learn how to mitigate the risk of click fraud by implementing some basic policies to prevent it (such as not advertising in countries that are known to be hotbeds of such activity - i.e. China) and accept that it happens - it's part of doing business online. Networks like Google, Yahoo and others (yes, even second-tier search engines really do care about the problem.) In the end, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

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