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The internet click fraud rate hit a record level of 17.1% in Q408 and click fraud traffic from botnets surged to an all-time high of 31.4%, according to Click Forensics, Inc., which today released its quarterly pay-per-click (PPC) Click Fraud Index figures, writes MarketingVOX.

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Click Forensics President Tom Cuthbert said that three components contributed to the rise in click fraud: More dollars filtering into pay-per-click (PPC); increased competition in the click firm industry; and rises in cybercrime and botnet activity resulting from the poor economy.

Specifically, click fraud traffic from botnets was responsible for 31.4% of all click fraud traffic in Q408. This is up from 27.6% in Q308 and 22.0% in Q407.

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The research also found a resurgence of “click farms,” (situations in which groups of people are hired to click on ads to help others make money), which had – until now – all but disappeared.

Additional highlights from the Q4 Click Fraud Index:

  • Q408’s 17.1% industry average click fraud rate is up from 16.0% in Q3 2008 and 16.6% in Q4 2007.
  • The average click fraud rate of PPC ads appearing on search engine content networks, including Google AdSense and the Yahoo Publisher Network, was 28.2%. This is an increase from the 27.1% rate reported for Q308 and down slightly from the 28.3% rate for Q407.
  • In Q408, the greatest percentage of click fraud originating from countries outside the US came from Canada (7.4%), Germany (3.0%) and China (2.3%).

“Based on the data we tracked in Q408, it seems that the online advertising industry is not immune to the growing tide of cybercrime during this recessionary period,” said Cuthbert. “Both the overall click fraud rate and the rate of click fraud originating from botnets were the highest ever in Q408.”

About the research: Now in its fourth year, the Click Fraud Index monitors and reports on data gathered from the Click Fraud Network, which provides statistically significant industry PPC data collected from online advertising campaigns for both large and small companies across all the leading search engines. Click fraud data is tracked and published on a quarterly basis for specific search providers, industries and trends.

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