click laundering
n. A technique that makes a bogus click on a online ad look like a legitimate click to defraud a pay-per-click advertising system.
Other Forms
Big ad networks will face challenges ensuring the legitimacy of their traffic to advertisers if click laundering becomes a pervasive trend. Should well-known websites start tapping into fraudulent clickstreams without raising suspicion, says Richard Boscovich, a senior attorney at Microsoft, "We're facing a much bigger problem."
—Peter Burrows, “Microsoft's Click Laundering Crusade,” BusinessWeek, June 06, 2010
Click laundering is a newly uncovered form of click fraud in which technical measures are used to make invalid ad clicks appear to originate from legitimate sources. It is analogous to money laundering in which the origin of illegal profits is disguised as legitimate. Click laundering attempts to avoid fraud detection systems that have been put in place by the ad platform — in this case, Microsoft adCenter — to protect online advertisers. Through various means, including malware programs, fraudsters are able to trick innocent Internet users into visiting websites where they unknowingly click on advertisements. Click launderers also can further disguise the origin of those invalid clicks by using scripts and other methods to alter information that is sent to the ad platform.
—“Microsoft Investigators Uncover Emerging Form of Click Fraud,” Microsoft News Center, May 19, 2010
2006 (earliest)
And the coup de grace: the unofficial partner could be using adware, generating popups or even entirely artificial clicks. The Official Partner has no incentive to monitor the validity of the clicks. And Yahoo can't trace the clicks back all the way through to the Unauthorized Partner. This is what I call "click laundering."
—Tom Dalton, “Click Laundering,”, May 12, 2006
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