Click fraud is a type of fraud that occurs on the Internet in pay-per-click (PPC) online advertising. In this type of advertising, the owners of websites that post the ads are paid an amount of money determined by how many visitors to the sites click on the ads. Fraud occurs when a person, automated script or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser, clicking on such an ad without having an actual interest in the target of the ad’s link. Click fraud is the subject of some controversy and increasing litigation due to the advertising networks being a key beneficiary of the fraud.
Media entrepreneur and journalist John Battelle describes click fraud as the intentionally malicious, “decidedly black hat” practice of publishers illegitimately gaming paid search advertising by employing robots or low-wage workers to repeatedly click on each AdSense ad on their sites, thereby generating money to be paid by the advertiser to the publisher and to Google.