Click Fraud and Keywords

Click fraud is a type of Internet crime that occurs in pay per click online advertising when a person, automated script or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad, for the purpose of 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 litigation due to the advertising networks being a key beneficiary of the fraud.
Use of a computer to commit this type of Internet fraud is a felony in many jurisdictions, for example Penal Code 502 in California, There have been arrests relating to click fraud with regard to malicious clicking in order to deplete a competitor’s advertising budget.
Click fraud can be as simple as one person starting a small Web site, becoming a publisher of ads, and clicking on those ads to generate revenue. Often the number of clicks and their value is so small that the fraud goes undetected. Publishers may claim that small amounts of such clicking are an accident, which is often the case. The pay-per-click industry is lobbying for tighter laws on the issue. Many hope to have laws that will cover those not bound by contracts.
Much larger-scale fraud also occurs. Those engaged in large-scale fraud will often run scripts which simulate a human clicking on ads in Web pages. However, huge numbers of clicks appearing to come from just one, or a small number of computers, or a single geographic area, look highly suspicious to the advertising network and advertisers.
Proving click fraud can be very difficult, since it is hard to know who is behind a computer and what their intentions are. Often the best an advertising network can do is to identify which clicks are most likely fraudulent and not charge the account of the advertiser. Even more sophisticated means of detection are used, but none are foolproof.