Click fraud growing ad network problem

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fraud_small.jpgADOTAS — Click fraud traffic from malicious scripted programs increased in the first quarter, a new study reveals.

Unlike botnets or malware, these new threats exist as simple Javascript programs that execute upon a page view or site visit, Click Forensics says in its quarterly industry click fraud rates release. Ad networks were found to be especially vulnerable to these attacks during the quarter.

“It appears that the drop in keyword Cost Per Clicks (CPCs) and the progress Yahoo! and Google made blocking click fraud from botnet sources contributed to the decline in the overall click fraud rate this quarter,” Tom Cuthbert, president of Click Forensics, said in a statement. “However, we also saw an increase in scripted attacks aimed at ad networks, which are historically more vulnerable to such threats. Advertisers should pay close attention to traffic from these sources over the next year.”

The data also indicated that click fraud schemes are increasingly complex, sophisticated, and more difficult to detect. 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.

There were several factors that seemed to contribute to the overall decline. First there was the expected drop from the seasonally high click fraud rates in Q4. In addition, lower Cost Per Clicks for keywords last quarter meant there was less money to be made on fraud. Finally, the major search engines did a better job blocking fraudulent traffic from botnet sources, possibly due to the heightened awareness of well-publicized attacks such as Conficker.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Uhm Brian?
    I took nearly all of this from a press release from Click Forensics, the company I also linked to, and I even said in the quote that it is a statement from Click Forensics.
    The more accurate description was that I ‘plagiarized’ a news release. (if that’s possible, which it’s not.) I’ve linked to mediapost more times than I can mention in the past, and I will in the future as well. I’m not perfect, sometimes I forget, but it doesn’t hurt me to link to others.

  2. Why do you keep deleting comments? It seems that you are interested in only showing one side. Its funny how easy the mighty Adotas could be fooled by the likes of Vizi/Pesach. In an effort to be fair it appeared some people were posting relative comments to this story.

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