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Investigation: Click Fraud Growing, Advertisers Irritated

Click-fraud is on the rise, and confidence in pay-per-click advertising may be slipping, a new report claims.

A recent investigation by BusinessWeek found that the occurrence of click-fraud is growing, with a "thriving click-fraud underground populated by swarms of small-time players, making detection difficult. 'Paid to read' rings with hundreds or thousands of members each, all of them pressing PC mice over and over in living rooms and dens around the world."

This week, major online advertisers, including Expedia.com and LendingTree, are expected to go public with their concern over click fraud, according to the article. They plan to form a group to share information and pressure Google and Yahoo to be more forthcoming.

"Participants from Kentucky to China speak of making from $25 to several thousand dollars a month apiece, cash they wouldn't receive if Google and Yahoo were as successful at blocking fraud as they claim," Business Week writes.

Google and Yahoo both say they can detect most fraudulent clicks and refund advertisers for their losses. BusinessWeek claims that most academics and consultants who study online advertising estimate that 10-15 percent of ad clicks are fake, representing roughly $1 billion in annual billings.

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