Internet Advertising Click Fraud

USA Today reports that click fraud is becoming more prevalent these days as cybergangs increase the use of "infected PCs to divert advertising dollars into their hands."

According to the article, two separate estimates by Click Forensics and Anchor Intelligence reveal that in the first quarter of 2010 17 percent to 29 percent of clicks to online ads were fraudulent. The estimates represent a 15 percent to 25 percent increase from fourth quarter 2009.

"Most often, click fraud is the work of cybercriminals who put up websites carrying online ads and no other content," said USA Today.

"The criminals then retain the services of cybergangs in control of sprawling networks of infected PCs, called botnets, which are directed to repeatedly click on the ads. This triggers payments to the crooks who put up the Web page."

Click-fraud scammers are responsible for stealing millions of dollars annually, making it an obvious concern for big search companies. For example, Google spokeswoman Rachel Nearnberg told USA Today that the search giant allows advertisers to check for patters of fraudulent clicks. The program allows advertisers to count the exact number of clicks that are filtered out on each ad campaign. Despite their efforts, the article suggests that stopping the criminal activity is difficult to do.

According to the article, more often than not, "advertisers eat the losses."

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