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What is Click Fraud?

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  • Last Updated : 27 Jan, 2023
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Click Fraud is a type of fraud that occurs on the Internet on Pay-per-click(PPC) online advertising when a person, automated script or computer program a user of a web browser clicks on an ad for generating a charge per click without having actual interest in the target of the ad’s link. Click fraud is the subject of some controversy and increasing due to the advertising networks being key beneficiaries of the fraud.

PPC advertising is an arrangement in which webmasters (operators of websites) act as publishers and display clickable links from advertisers in exchange for a charge per click. As this industry evolved a number of advertising networks developed which act as two groups: 

  • Publishers 
  • Advertisers

Each time a valid web user clicks on an ad the advertiser pays the advertising network which in turn pays the publisher a share of this money. This revenue-sharing system is taken as an incentive for click fraud.

In simple terms Click fraud is a method of generating various click methods on digital advertising, this can either be done manually through click farms or most commonly through automated software and Online bots. Click fraud affects both Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising which creates an artificial price hike for search terms and on-display ad impressions, here fraudulent clicks create a false economy in which advertisers think that they are getting more Click Through Rates (CTR). The goal of generating fraudulent traffic is to create fake clicks so that publishers earn more advertising revenue.

Classes of Click Fraud

  1. Competitors of advertisers: These parties may wish to harm a competitor who advertises in the market by clicking on their ads.
  2. Competitors of publishers: These persons may wish to frame a publisher. It looks as if the publisher is clicking on its own ads.
  3. Other malicious intent: There are many motives for wishing to cause harm to either an advertiser or a publisher, even by people who have nothing to gain financially.
  4. Friends of the Publisher: Sometimes upon learning a publisher profits from ads being clicked, a supporter of the publisher (like a fan, family member, etc) will check on the ads to help.

Click Fraud is an online Cyber Crime technique that works on different tasks and is co-related with different cyber frauds. 

Types of Click Fraud 

  • Click farms: They are like the sweetshops of the online world. Thousands of low-paid workers are hired to sit behind computers and continuously click on advertisements.
  • Online bots: They are online applications that are driven by code in order to impersonate human behavior.
  • Impression fraud: It is also known as ad-stuffing or ad ad-stacking and is a common fraud. This is when a fraudulent publisher stacks ads on top of one another by placing the ads in invisible frames.
  • Fake websites and domains: This is when the websites are built with the only purpose of advertising and offer no other content, these are also integrated within a large network. 
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