Click Fraud Unsettles Web Advertising Market

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript

A new study says advertisers lose up to $800 million a year to an Internet scam called "click fraud." Many advertisers pay only when someone clicks on their ads. The fraud occurs when people click with the intention of running up an advertiser's bill.


Here's a growing problem in Internet advertising. It's known as click fraud. It undermines companies that rely on pay-per-click advertising. Another problem the founding fathers probably never envisioned.

NPR's Allison Keyes has more.

ALLISON KEYES reporting:

A company doesn't have to pay for a pay-per-click ad unless someone clicks on it. Click fraud occurs when someone clicks on an ad repeatedly to distort the numbers.

Outsell, an information industry research firm, has compiled some numbers that define the scope of the problem. Outsell's lead analyst, Chuck Richard, says the firm's studies showed advertisers lost $800 million to the practice last year.

Mr. CHUCK RICHARD (Lead Analyst, Outsell): On these pay-per-click ads, 14.6 percent are estimated to be fraudulent - people who are using one of these means, of either trying to waste someone else's money or earn some money for themselves.

KEYES: Richard says 27 percent of the advertisers Outsell interviewed said they had cut their pay-per-click advertising because of the problem. He says click fraud is affecting what had been the fastest growing type of online advertising and a type of ad that provides 90 percent of the revenue of companies such as Google.

Google could not be reached for comment.

Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.