Ad fraud targets online video

10 April 2014
NEW YORK: A new generation of sophisticated bots is generating at least 30 million fake views daily of online video ads and could be making the fraudsters responsible almost $10 million a month.

Ad software firm TubeMogul said it had identified three new bots that were using a number of technologies that hadn't been seen before. "The complexity is getting bigger with each generation of fraud," Jason Lopatecki, TubeMogul's chief strategist, told Advertising Week.

He explained that the bots could make a single computer look like 1,000, so hugely multiplying the number of fraudulent clicks made from the same number of infected computers.

At the same time they were tainting advertiser cookie data by planting fake target segments on legitimate sites in order to help drive advertisers to scam sites with which were pretending to deliver those specific audiences.

TubeMogul said it was publishing a list of those sites infected with bot traffic in order to alert advertisers. "People are buying traffic they don't know is bots," said Lopatecki.

The issue was highlighted at the recent IAB Annual Leadership Meeting, where the organisation's incoming chair claimed traffic fraud had reached "crisis proportions". Vivek Shah quoted figures from comScore showing 36% of traffic was generated by machines. "That's astonishing," he said.

Randall Rothenberg, IAB president/ceo described a "porous, plug-and-play" supply chain where a trail of infection could weaken the entire digital advertising enterprise.

"There is plenty of blame to go around," he said. "Publishers boost their traffic numbers by buying impressions from uninspected sources. Agency trading desks offer bad traffic to their clients. Marketers turn a blind eye, abdicating their own commitment to quality."

Rothenberg called for a cross-industry quality-control program to ensure that "only qualified companies will be able to participate in legitimate digital advertising transactions".

Data sourced from Advertising Week; additional content by Warc staff
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