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Ad Fraud

     
8:59 pm on Aug 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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[theregister.co.uk...]

If this was only 10% true it's serious. For me, for you and and for everyone involved in website ad networks.
9:24 pm on Aug 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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While problematic for sure, IMO these stats are sensationalized to hype the article's argument. The stats in the article do not account for the adjustment Google & the other ad networks use to reduce false positives caused by bots and other automated ad impressions & clicks. How well this is done, is of course, the real measure.

Related discussion: Most of Your Traffic is Not Human [webmasterworld.com]
1:42 am on Aug 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I do not take The Register too seriously on these issues. It constantly talks down digital advertising, has promulgated hysteria over ad-injected malware and was a loud cheerleader for adblocking.

Interesting that the linked article denigrating ad networks closes with an entreaty to purchase online ads at El Reg, because "hey, you can trust US!"
6:38 am on Aug 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Bits and pieces. Some might be true. Then again, it's been a slow news day in the tech world and somebody has to post something, somewhere!

Ad fraud has been around since day one. For a golden age (where most of the myths of get rich quick came from) control of ad fraud was in infant stages. Nowadays more robust fraud detection is in place and many web sites are feeling the pain of "lost income". Things will only get worse in that regard as the marketplace becomes more secured against such fraud.

Which, in the long run, is a good thing. After all, we do want to get things right!
3:52 pm on Aug 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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When AdWords was just getting started there were some competing networks (I won't name) that were notorious for bot clicks burning through ad budgets.

The AdSense network is more sophisticated nowadays and probably the most trustworthy network to advertise with.
11:00 pm on Aug 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yes, ad fraud is not new.
Yes, ad fraud is getting worse YoY and has been for years.
Yes, Google/AdWords/AdSense are increasingly better at ad fraud detection.
Yes, ad fraudsters are increasingly better at ad fraud .

The numbers used by The Register are not dissimilar to many other reporting and ad agency stats I've seen. Ad fraud is a dirty little secret that keeps popping it's head up and getting whacked by PR, FUD, and minor changes; it is a cost of doing business that - along with the !fraud of 'impressions' - increasingly has large advertisers moving volume to FB and/or dictating very special agreements with Google.

Yes, AdSense probably has the cleanest of the third party ad networks grubby hands. However, it and all the rest are, as with The Register, one of my direct ad space selling points: I show you my numbers and methodology and false acceptance rates (FAR) and false rejection rates (FRR) ... does Google?

So, yes, The Register has written an article to scare advertisers and sell direct ad space. Yes, the numbers were probably cherry picked ... from one of an orchard of similar cherrys. Doesn't mean they aren't ripe.
8:41 am on Aug 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yes, ad fraud is getting worse YoY and has been for years.

What is the evidence for this conclusion? Do you mean it's getting worse in total, or in proportion to ad spending?

Nobody is denying that ad fraud exists or is a significant problem. Of course it is. I've read the White Ops study of ad fraud and it's fairly chilling stuff. I've been saying for years that CPC advertising will wither and die because of bot farms, click fraud and low ROI.

My only quibble is with the tone of the linked article, which opens with a quote from someone who died in the 1920s (like it's of some relevance) and closes with a plea to buy the very safe ads at El Reg. It's either tabloid hysteria or agenda-driven, or both.
12:48 pm on Aug 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It is fascinating but unsurprising to those of us that battle bots. From the original Register article, referenced but not linked in Dr Fou's presentation, is a graphic of bot software and attributed to Ratko Vidakovic, who is a online marketing specialist. This static graphic, however, does not do justice to its abilities. I tracked him down on Google to The Beginnerís Guide To Digital Ad Fraud [adprofs.co]. It is an interesting article.

Take a look at this animated gif of bot software.
https://media.giphy.com/media/l0Iy2I2C6zM6qaoiQ/giphy.gif

Run from a desktop it targets a site but randomizes the referrer, UA and proxy IP. This would be terrible for my site and difficult to detect if done properly. I'd love to track it down, see if it has an open source version and try to implement it. Maybe there is some way of detecting and defeating it.
3:25 am on Aug 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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That looks like an absolute nightmare. My guess is that any detection of this would examine usage patterns and the bigger picture. Any spike in legitimate traffic would be accompanied by a spike in organic searches and/or referrals. I'm assuming this bot couldn't replicate a referral from Google Search, which would be problematic if targeting Adsense sites.
3:39 am on Aug 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Sadly, there is lot of software that "...targets a site but randomizes the referrer, UA and proxy IP."

I block it but am constantly tweaking my filters to adjust to the never ending updates that are done to circumvent my security.
8:01 pm on Aug 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Just a reminder, please don't link to actual bot tools and such.

Thanks.

R