January 26, 2011, 2:32 PM

Click fraud increases 15.3% in Q4

A Click Forensics report cautions about an inflation scheme involving banner ads.

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Click fraud increased year over year in the fourth quarter of 2010 but decreased when compared with the third quarter of 2010, according to a report today from Click Forensics Inc., which audits traffic quality for online advertisers and networks.

19.1% of paid clicks on web ads were fraudulent in the fourth quarter, up from 15.3% for the same period in 2009 but down from 22.3% in the third quarter of 2010, according to the Click Fraud Index from Click Forensics.

The firm says it identified late last year a new malware scheme that could lead to inflation of display banner ads. “While the overall click fraud rate dropped last quarter for cost-per-click advertising, we saw the emergence of new schemes focused on display advertisements,” says Paul Pellman, CEO of Click Forensics. “We are investigating the malware-driven attacks in more detail, but early evidence points to an impression inflation scheme. It’s something we will examine more closely and report on later this year.”

In the fourth quarter of 2010, the countries outside the United States that produced the greatest volume of click fraud were Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Sweden and France, respectively.

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