Internet Ad Fraud, Who Knew There Would Be Such a Thing?

August 8, 2016

I hate Internet ads. They pop up everywhere when I am trying to watch a video, read an email, or skim through an article.  I know Internet ads are important to commerce and help keep certain services free, but why must they have sounds now?  It should not come as a surprise with the amount of Internet ads that fraud would be associated with them at some point.  The Register shares how to detect fraud in the story, “Digital Ad Biz Is Fraudulent By Design, Complain Big Brands.”

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) is a global trade body that represents the biggest spenders in digital advertising.  (MasterCard and Unilever are two of the biggest cash cows.)  Adverting fraud not only harms advertising firms, but also brands seeking to sell their products and services.  The WFA urges advertising firms that they not only clean up their own acts, devout resources to fight fraud, and not be so desperate for clicks and pocket change.

Businesses end up buying “cheap” traffic to bolster their numbers, but they are throwing their dollars into a money pit.  The WFA advises that businesses limit their digital investments to avoid fraud.  The WFA also predicts that by 2025 digital ad fraud could exceed $50 billion a year.

Digital ad fraud can take many forms:

“There are many shady practices at work, falling into three categories, the report explains.

  • Website fraud is where the operator is an ad network affiliate, such as in conversion fraud schemes.
  • Platform fraud includes social network and user-generated-content hosting sites.
  • Data fraud includes fiddling the numbers, for example by using a botnet.

Website fraud can be identified because the site sends more traffic to an ad exchange than its size suggests it should – so it could be bumping up the numbers. Website fraud encompasses a range of schemes including hidden ads, cookie stuffing, clickjacking and cloudbot traffic. The latter is where a hosting company’s IP addresses generate traffic.”

Ad fraud is easier than ever, because if you create a simple bot algorithm, paint yourself with a reputable ad business, and snap of a up clients you are set to wheel in the dollars.  It is not unsurprising that ad fraud is so common and regulation is slow.  Internet standards are hard to regulate, even Google has its own problems.


Whitney Grace, August 8, 2016
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