Click-fraud impact on search ads dropped in first quarter

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Austin, Texas—The pay-per-click fraud rate in the first quarter was 13.8%, a decline from 16.3% in the year-earlier period and the record 17.1% logged in 2008’s fourth quarter, according to online traffic quality company Click Forensics.

The decline was attributed to a lower cost-per-click rate in the quarter, meaning there was less money to be made on fraud. It was also due, the company said, to more vigilant search engine monitoring, possibly because of the heightened awareness of the Conficker worm attacks on the Windows operating system.

Click fraud is a form of theft in which perpetrators register common misspellings to attract unwitting users. When a display ad is clicked to the real, intended Web site, the perpetrator gains a commission.

Click Forensics’ quarterly index is a compilation of reports from its customers using software that analyzes such click characteristics as frequency, regularity, keyword price and countries of origin.

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