Click Fraud Frequency Drops, But Grows Up

    April 23, 2009

When your business relies on an increasing trend in click fraud, what do you do when the bottom drops out of the numbers?

That’s the predicament facing Click Forensics as its fourth year of providing its Click Fraud Index shows a dramatic drop in the average industry click fraud rate. The fourth quarter of 2008 was all gloom and doom, with the rate climbing to 17.1%, but the first quarter shows a drop to 13.8%–that’s about a 20% decline.

Never fear, there’s bottom line to protect, so Click Forensics gets granular and explains that while overall click fraud may have dropped, what’s there is getting more sophisticated.

One new type of fraud discovered this quarter was perpetrated by malicious scripts that execute when a visitor views a web page disguised as relevant content or search results. The script initiates “Zero-iframe” or off-screen clicks that route the visitor session through an alias referrer website, and on to unsuspecting advertisers who pay for the phantom click. All this occurs transparently to the offending site’s visitor; they never see the ad or visit the advertiser, and their computer is not infected with any type of malware or botnet.

Before we all panic over this, keep in mind this is very likely an isolated incident as it was only just discovered "this quarter." That said, you have to tip you hat to Click Forensics for being able to identify such a complex case of click fraud.

I guess the big question is whether this drop is a blip or a trend? Are you seeing a drop in click fraud on your paid search campaigns?