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Incidents of click fraud have escalated despite the attempts of search engine giants such as Google and Yahoo! to stymie the growth of the problem.

Click fraud occurs when someone deliberately hits adverts on a website to push up costs for a rival firm.

Click Fraud Network, which monitors online activity in pay-per-click advertising campaigns, revealed data that shows the overall industry average click fraud rate was up by just over one per cent to 14.8 when compared to the final quarter of 2006.

It also found that the average click fraud rate of pay-per-click adverts which appear on search engine content networks was up nearly two per cent on last year's Q4 figures, to 21 per cent.

Tom Cuthbert, president and CEO of Click Forensics, said: "It appears that click fraud perpetrators are becoming more sophisticated even as search providers step up their efforts to fight click fraud.

"Click fraud seems to be following a similar path as other online fraud schemes such as spam and phishing - the problem is growing as fraudsters fine tune their methods."

Earlier this year, both Google and Yahoo! talked up plans to help tackle click fraud.

Yahoo! announced that it was appointing a new Czar to deal with the issue, while Google said it was trialling changes to its AdWords scheme.

There's more on the Click Fraud Network's latest findings here. ®

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