The measurement of click fraud by Click Forensics said pay per click (PPC) fraud hit 19.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006 across search engine content networks, while the overall industry average reached 14.2 percent.
Click fraud has been the bane of contextual advertisers, with illicit clicks taking away from their budgets while search engines and fraudsters profit. The search engines have procedures in place to handle requests for reimbursement, but few agree on just how much goes on in the industry.
• The overall industry average click fraud rate was 14.2 percent versus 13.8 percent for Q3, 14.1 percent for Q2 and 13.7 percent for Q1.
• The average click fraud rate of Pay Per Click advertisements appearing on search engine content networks was 19.2 percent for Q4.
• The industry average click fraud rate for high-priced search terms remained at 20.9 percent as it did in Q3 versus 20.2 percent in Q2. High-priced terms are defined as terms that cost over $2.00. These high-priced terms often make up the majority of an advertiser's total spend.
• The average PPC term cost for the top key terms across the five biggest search advertising industries - Retail, Financial Services, Health & Fitness, Technology, and Entertainment - for Q4 was $3.50. This compares to $3.92 in Q3, $4.51 in Q2 and $4.75 in Q1.
"The industry average click fraud rate climbed to its highest level in 2006 and that the click fraud rate for affiliate sites was significantly higher than the overall industry average," said Tom Cuthbert, president and CEO of Click Forensics. "The data confirms what other recent independent investigations have uncovered about click fraud."