To assist in this situation, Net Applications (www.netapplications.com) has published a white paper entitled, “Using Web Analytics [to] Identify Possible Click Fraud,” which is available via PDF as a free download from the company’s website.
According to the report, the essence of click fraud is “the willful act of clicking on a search engine sponsored listing or banner ad with the intention of falsely increasing clicks while consuming the advertiser’s payper-click budgets.”
This fraud diminishes the success of many marketing programs and occurs for a variety of purposes and by a variety of parties.
“There are numerous reasons why someone will intentionally commit click fraud,” the report states. “In some cases, click fraud may be an isolated occurrence. In other cases, click fraud may be a malicious and well thought out systematic method of generating excessive and erroneous click activity.”
Net Applications identifies perpetrators such as affiliates and competitors as the main sources of click fraud, with victims including advertisers, consumers, search marketers and the search engines and traffic networks.
The report also lists some of the metrics to analyze in an effort to combat click fraud, including the monitoring of cookie acceptance, clicks by country and at unusual times, conversion rates, page depth and the amount of time a visitor spends on the site.
Net Applications encourages webmasters to develop a baseline view of their current click and traffic profiles, and to implement click fraud detection technologies, such as its Hits Link tool.