What is Click Fraud ?
In online advertising, advertisers often use ad-networks to place a clickable advertisement on a publisher’s website. A user interested in the advertisement clicks on it to get more information. The advertiser then pays a predetermined amount of money to the publisher through the ad-network. This type of advertising is also called Pay Per Click advertising or PPC advertising, as the money as advertiser pays to the publisher is directly related to the number of clicks generated from the website of the publisher. Click fraud is a type of fraud where a fraudulent person himself or by using some automated scripts imitates a legitimate user and generates lots of clicks on an advertisement without having any actual interest in the advertisement. It is often done with the purpose of making the advertiser lose lots of money.
What is the purpose of Click Fraud ?
Perpetrators may have several purposes behind click fraud.
- To cause the advertiser financial loss – Perpetrators often use click fraud to cause financial harm to the advertiser. It may be done by a competitor who advertises in the same market. The perpetrators may not directly profit from the click fraud, but they can force the advertiser to pay large amount of money for irrelevant clicks and thereby weaken or eliminate the source of competition.
- To frame a publisher – The perpetrators may do click fraud to look as if the publisher is clicking on the advertisements of his own website for his own financial gains. The advertising network may then terminate the relation with the publisher. If the publisher relies heavily on advertising for revenues, the click fraud may cost him heavily.
- To cause the publisher financial gains – Sometimes supporters of a publisher like his friends, family, fans or political party supporters perpetrate click fraud as they think that would cause financial gains to the publisher. But, it gets backfired instead, once it gets detected and causes harm to the publisher instead.
- Other malicious intentions – Sometimes the perpetrators may have other motives other than causing harm to the publisher or the advertiser. The perpetrators may have political or personal vendettas. These causes are very difficult to track down and it becomes quite difficult to take proper legal actions against the perpetrators.
How to detect Click Fraud ?
Many ad-networks use several techniques to detect click fraud.
- Automatic Filter – Sometimes ad-networks use automatic filters to filter out invalid clicks in real time.
- Manual Analysis – Sometimes ad-networks use manual analysis to investigate anomalies and fluctuations on clicks and remove invalid clicks once detected.
Anytime an invalid click is detected by an ad-network, credits are issued to the corresponding …