More than 17 percent of all clickthroughs on Web advertising are the result of click fraud, the act of clicking on a Web ad to artificially increase its clickthrough rate, according to the latest report from Click Forensics, a company that specializes in monitoring and preventing internet crime.
According to the company, the level of clickfraud is the highest it has seen since it started monitoring for it in 2006. Click Forensics recorded 16.3 percent in Q1 2008.
What's more, 31.4 percent of click fraud is now coming from automated bots and botnets, a 14 percent increase from last quarter and the highest rate the company has ever recorded.
Click fraud for ads on content networks like Google AdSense and Yahoo Publisher Network rose from 27.1 percent last quarter to 28.2 percent (though it has decreased since Q4 2007, when it was at 28.3 percent).
Outside of the United States, the most click fraud came from Canada (which contributed 7.4 percent), Germany (3 percent), and China (2.3 percent), according to Click Forensics.
Additionally, there has been a reemergence of link farms, vicious circles of sites and links.
Click Forensics speculates that the increase may be tied to the poor economy, which has also spurred a rise in phishing and other cybercrime.