May, 2015 – This article from AdvertisingAge provides great insight on how digital ad fraud could be stealing from your marketing budget.

The following text presents verbatim excerpts from the May 18 article by Alex Kantrowitz. The full article may be viewed here.


The (Google) unit, numbering more than 100, is locked in a war against an unknown quantity of cybercriminals who are actively siphoning billions of dollars out of the digital advertising industry, primarily via the creation of robotic traffic that appears human.

For players on the web both big and small, digital ad fraud is a significant and growing problem.

According to a study by the fraud-fighting firm White Ops and the Association of National Advertisers, $6.3 billion will be lost to ad fraud in 2015.

For fraudsters, making money is a simple process. There are two basic ways to do it: You sell bot traffic to publishers (through a chain of middlemen) who figure they can make more revenue from ads than the cost of the traffic; or you set up your own website, send the traffic there and sell your own ads.

…ad fraud is the most lucrative endeavor a cybercriminal can undertake today.

…..a monster piece of traffic originating almost entirely from four IP addresses and one web server. The traffic, clearly all the work of some central entity, generated 100 million ad clicks on a single Google network over the course of just 10 days. The swath of traffic was so massive it likely disrupted the results of countless ad campaigns over the 10 days measured.

This has potential to be artificially inflating the clickthrough rate of advertising campaigns quite significantly across the board. Perplexingly…this company….is actually an ad verification service….passing itself off as legitimate human traffic to plenty of ad-tech companies that have not yet identified it.