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Click fraud harder to detect, but rate stays flat

Bogus clicks on ads, which can make money for Web sites but cost advertisers, were no more common in the second quarter. But click fraud is getting more sophisticated.

Click fraud, in which advertisers have to pay for bogus clicks on text ads, dropped only a smidgen to 16.2 percent of clicks in the second quarter from 16.1 percent in the first, according to new data from Click Forensics, a company that monitors such activity.

Companies including Google and Yahoo with networks to show ads with search and on partner web sites have efforts to protect against click fraud. However, the company said Tuesday, click fraud is getting harder to counter.

"Although click fraud rates were relatively unchanged in the second quarter, we found that the methods used to commit click fraud have become increasingly more sophisticated and difficult to detect," said Click Forensics President Tom Cuthbert in a statement.

Specifically, botnets--networks of compromised computers that can be controlled remotely--now account for more than a quarter of click fraud traffic for the first time, Click Forensics said. The company obtains its data from its Click Fraud Network, which has drawn participation from more than 4,000 advertisers and ad agencies.