A click bot is a specialized bot created for the purpose of generating clicks. In the beginning, this type of bot was primarily used for cheating while playing games, but in the past years, it has been continually oriented towards click fraud in pay per click advertising by simulating a human clicking on ads in Web pages.
PPC advertising is a type of online advertising where webmasters (called publishers) display clickable ads on their websites, in order to be paid by advertisers and earn money from the clicks the ads will receive. As of lately, advertising networks have developed, acting as middlemen between publishers and advertisers. With the advance of the Internet, this system expanded and become increasingly more popular and profitable and as a consequence, more people have tried to take advantage of it.
The usage of click bots is a way of committing click fraud, a type of Internet crime that occurs in pay per click online advertising, in order to generate higher income by simulating human interest in the ads displayed by the advertiser. While this is unbeneficial for the advertisers, advertising networks often obtain profit from non-human generated clicks, thus making this type of fraud a controversial issue.
For tech savvy users, creating a click bot is a simple process that literally requires a few simple steps. It can be done by using different programs, creating scripts or recording macros that will be able to mimic a human clicking on ads.
On the other hand, advertising networks have become increasingly more competent in detecting click fraud, as a way of ensuring their own credibility and avoiding the financial effects that this can have over honest publishers and the advertisers that are using their network to drive traffic to their businesses. Google, Yahoo! and other important networks are very serious about detecting fraud, thus making click fraud easier to spot and harder to get away with.
Click fraud is an important issue because not only the average Internet user will try to use click bots or otherwise generate income by abusing the system. There is also the problem of organized crime: click bot software is installed on thousands of computers around the world without the computer owners’ consent via spreading malicious software like trojans or viruses.
Though advertising networks can detect click bots because of the artificial patterns used when generating clicks by checking the source and behavior of the traffic or by detecting proxies, click fraud still accounts for an unexpectedly high number of clicks and losses of billions of dollars per year for advertising networks worldwide.