Industry Click Fraud Rate Declines to 13.8 Percent in Q1 2009

New Forms of Scripted Attacks on the Rise – The “Zero-iframe” Clicker
ad:tech San Francisco

AUSTIN, Texas – Click Forensics™, Inc. released industry pay-per-click (PPC) fraud figures for the first quarter 2009 from the search advertising industry’s leading independent click fraud reporting service – the Click Fraud Index® ( Now in its fourth year, the Click Fraud Index provides statistically significant industry PPC data collected from online advertising campaigns for both large and small advertisers across all leading search engines. Traffic across more than 300 ad networks is also reflected in the data. Key findings for Q1 2009 include:

* The overall industry average click fraud rate was 13.8 percent for Q1 2009. That’s down from 17.1 percent reported for Q4 2008 and from the 16.3 percent rate reported for Q1 2008.
* Click fraud traffic from malicious scripted programs increased in Q1 2009. Unlike botnets or malware, these new threats exist as simple Javascript programs that execute upon a page view or site visit. Ad networks were found to be especially vulnerable to these attacks during the quarter.
* In Q1 2009, the greatest percentage of click fraud originating from countries outside the U.S. came from Canada, United Kingdom and Germany.

“It appears that the drop in keyword Cost Per Clicks (CPCs) and the progress Yahoo! and Google made blocking click fraud from botnet sources contributed to the decline in the overall click fraud rate this quarter,” said Tom Cuthbert, president of Click Forensics. “However, we also saw an increase in scripted attacks aimed at ad networks, which are historically more vulnerable to such threats. Advertisers should pay close attention to traffic from these sources over the next year.”

The data also indicated that click fraud schemes are increasingly complex, sophisticated, and more difficult to detect. One new type of fraud discovered this quarter was perpetrated by malicious scripts that execute when a visitor views a web page disguised as relevant content or search results. The script initiates “Zero-iframe” or off-screen clicks that route the visitor session through an alias referrer website, and on to unsuspecting advertisers who pay for the phantom click. All this occurs transparently to the offending site’s visitor; they never see the ad or visit the advertiser, and their computer is not infected with any type of malware or botnet.

The Click Fraud Index publishes data collected from the industry’s first independent third-party click fraud detection service dedicated to helping companies more accurately monitor their online advertising campaigns for pay-per-click fraud. The service is unique in that it monitors online campaigns for click fraud by correlating advertising campaign data collected from search providers, over 300 ad networks and the advertisers’ own web sites – providing the industry’s most accurate view of click fraud to date.

About Click Forensics, Inc.

Click Forensics is the industry leader in scoring, auditing and improving traffic quality for the online advertising community. Click Forensics provides traffic quality management solutions for leading online advertisers, publishers, and ad networks including companies such as Yahoo!, eBay, Progressive Insurance, Experian, Nextag, Infospace, Turn, Traffic Engine, and many others. The company also publishes the Click Fraud Index®, the top independent source of industry click fraud data. Click Forensics is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and is privately held with funding from Sierra Ventures, Austin Ventures, Shasta Ventures, and Stanford University. More information on Click Forensics and its offerings is available at

Click Fraud Index is a registered trademark of Click Forensics, Inc. Click Forensics is a trademark of Click Forensics, Inc. All other company and product names mentioned are used only for identification and may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.