A blogger once called click fraud Google’s ‘Achilles Heel’. As far back as 2005 this was recognized as a severe problem, as Donna Bogatin pointed out on zdnet:
Google’s efforts to undermine third party click fraud auditing services is but the latest tactic employed by Google in an aggressive public relations campaign to sway the public to believe that Google has the click fraud problem “under control.”
Google now calls click fraud “invalid clicks” and purports to provide advertisers data proving they are “filtering out” invalid click activity.
The Google AdWords feature claiming to provide advertisers a “detailed picture of invalid click activity,” however, merely reflects Google self-reported, internally generated data.
The post came out around the time the first big click fraud case occurred, with Samuel Lassoff, a Philadelphia-based attorney, filing a class action complaint against Google, Inc., in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, accusing Google of: ‘breach of contract, negligence, unjust enrichment and unfair business practices,’ due to click fraud.
According to Lassoff’s filing:
In December 2005, plaintiff received an invoice regarding his Pay Per Click advertrising, where it was discovered that plaintiff was the victim of hundreds of dollars worth of fraudulent clicks… The defendant engaged in a scheme to hide their negligent handling of plaintiff’s advertising account. The defendant never warned the plaintiffs of fraudulent clicks or made any recovery efforts for the plaintiffs.
Now reports are that click fraud is on the rise, with reports showing that click fraud is way up, according to Search Engine Watch:
Anchor Intelligence saw the attempted click fraud rate increase from 18.6% in Q3 2009 to 25.7% in Q4 2009. Anchor Intelligence defines attempted click fraud as those with malicious intent, and listed the top 5 countries with the highest attempted click fraud rate in 2009 as: Vietnam, U.S., Egypt, Canada, and Australia. The U.S. and Canada accounted for the largest sources of traffic volume.
Click Forensics saw the click fraud rate increase from 14.1% in Q3 2009 to 15.3% in Q4 2009. The click fraud rate in Q4 2008 was 17.1%. Click Forensics identified the countries outside North America as producing the most fraudulent traffic as being: Ukraine, Japan, and the Czech Republic.
Here’s a graph from Anchor Intelligence that gives a good visual of the problem:
How do you protect yourself against click fraud? Watch your site analytic closely for visits from competitors and use article marketing and high quality content creation to attract targeted traffic that converts.