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On the security of pay-per-click and other Web advertising schemes

Elsevier B.V.
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s1389-1286(99)00023-7
  • Electronic Commerce
  • Secure Systems
  • On-Line Advertising
  • Pay-Per-Click


Abstract We present a hit inflation attack on pay-per-click Web advertising schemes. Our attack is virtually impossible for the program provider to detect conclusively, regardless of whether the provider is a third-party `ad network' or the target of the click itself. If practiced widely, this attack could accelerate a move away from pay-per-click programs and toward programs in which referrers are paid only if the referred user subsequently makes a purchase (pay-per-sale) or engages in other substantial activity at the target site (pay-per-lead). We also briefly discuss the lack of auditability inherent in these schemes.

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