Fraudulent clicks, also known as “click fraud”, are clicks not conducted in “good faith”, according to Yahoo! Search Marketing.
“Invalid clicks”, “false clicks” and “bad clicks” are other descriptions of this illegal practise.
Google describes fraudulent clicks as “malicious” or “artificial” clicks.
In December 2004 Google's Chief Financial Officer, George Reyes, described click fraud as the “biggest threat” to the Internet economy.
Click fraud is simply stealing from advertisers who are paying per click.
For example, competitors of advertisers advertising on Google's AdWords and the AdSense network can fraudulently click on their ads depleting their budgets to gain better exposure for themselves.
Sometimes scam sites are created solely to display ad links provided by ad vendors.
Humans or automated software can click away on these ads stealing commissions.
In pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, marketers pay a search engine, such as Google, Yahoo! or FindWhat.com, when users click on links to the advertisers' websites. Google and others also generate revenue by posting sponsored ad links on other websites and splitting the fees generated by user clicks.
Monitor fraudulent clicks
You can monitor the clicks you're paying for by using highly sophisticated software, send a detailed report to – for example – Google or Overture, and ask for a refund for fraudulent clicks.
If you're paying $50 or more for your PPC ads, it may be a wise investment for you to independently monitor the clicks you're paying for with this new technology.
If you'd like to know more about click fraud visit Click Sentinel and discover who's up to it and how you can beat them.[UPDATE: The ClickSentinel service is no longer available.]