The act of generating invalid clicks on an advert. Deliberate invalid clicks may be generated by competitors to waste the media budget of an advertiser or by site owners hosting the advert in order to increase commission from the clicks. Click fraud is an illegal practice that occurs when individuals click on a website’s click through advertisements (either banner ads or paid text links) to increase the payable number of clicks to the advertiser. The illegal clicks could either be performed by having a person manually click the advertising hyperlinks or by using automated software or online bots that are programmed to click these banner ads and pay per click text ad links.
Research has indicated that click fraud is perpetrated by individuals who use click fraud to increase their own personal banner ad revenues and also by companies who use click fraud as a way to deplete a competitor’s advertising budget. Click fraud is commonly associated with pay-per click advertising (PPC). PPC advertising is an arrangement in which webmasters (operators of websites), acting as publishers, display clickable links from advertisers in exchange for a cost per click. As this industry evolved, a number of advertising networks developed, which acted as middlemen between these two groups (publishers and advertisers). Each time a (believed to be) valid Web user clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays the advertising network, which in turn pays the publisher a share of this money. This revenue-sharing system is seen as an incentive for click fraud.