Click fraud has become less of a burden for companies that advertise in social networks, but overall the problem reached record highs in the first quarter of 2010, according to two separate reports released Thursday.
The first study from Click Forensics, examining ad campaigns running in social networks, found a click-fraud rate of 11.5% in Q1 2010. Overall industry click fraud rates rose to 17.4%, the company says.
A study of hundreds of online campaigns from a cross-section of advertisers and third-party ad networks showed traffic from social networking sites, including MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to have an average 11.5% overall click-fraud rate, significantly lower than the 17.4% industry average. That industry average rose from 15.3% in Q4 2009 and 13.8% rate in Q1 2009.
It may have subsided during Q1 2010, but earlier this week click fraud became a political strategy, too. Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has been attacked for urging followers to click on an online advertisement to diminish funds in an AdWords campaign.
A post on Prescott's Twitter page asked followers to "Click here http://bit.ly/RinseCashcroft then click on Labour Have Failed = 50p out of the Tories warchest. Let's do this! #ukelection," according to the BBC.
Anchor Intelligence notes a "dramatic upsurge" in attempted click fraud in the United Kingdom, up from 18% in Q4 to 32.0% in Q1.
Overall, in Anchor's network the attempted click-fraud rate rose 13.4% to 25.7% in Q1 2010, sequentially. Invalid clicks rose 12.5% to 36.1%, respectively, representing the highest rate since the company began publishing traffic quality across its network last year.
Anchor attributes the attempt in click fraud to new customers entering the Anchor network with higher-than-average attempted click-fraud rates, and an increase in scale and volume of botnets, resulting in more click-fraud ring activity and automated high -velocity traffic.
Most of the botnet activity in the first quarter originated in Vietnam, which has become the top country for sourcing attempted click fraud across the Anchor Intelligence network. The company reveals that several reports from Google and McAfee provide corroborating evidence showing a significant amount of nefarious activity originating from Vietnamese IP addresses during Q1.