Click Fraud without the Clicks


Benjamin Edelman, a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Economics at Harvard University, has been doing some interesting work on detecting click fraud.

For a while he has been tracking the obvious frauds…clicks by competitors and clicks by content publishers. But now he has gone further and identified cases of click fraud where no click has actually taken place.

Here is part of his claim:

“My August examples demonstrate what I call “syndication fraud” — Yahoo placing advertisers’ ads into spyware programs, and charging advertisers for resulting clicks. But Yahoo’s spyware problems extend beyond improper syndication. In my August syndication fraud examples, an advertiser only pays Yahoo if a user clicks the advertiser’s ad. Not so for three of today’s examples. Here, spyware completely fakes a click — causing Yahoo to charge an advertiser a “pay-per-click” fee, even though no user actually clicked on any pay-per-click link. This is “click fraud.””

This is fascinating stuff. You’ll find his full article here…

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