What Methbot Can Teach Us About Combating Digital Advertising Fraud

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On Tuesday, December 20 news was released that the cyber security firm White Ops uncovered Russian criminals running a “Methbot” scam that is defrauding digital advertisers everywhere. It was discovered that this group is siphoning millions of dollars of advertising per day from U.S. media companies and brand advertisers. White Ops, based in New York, believes the scammers are using a botnet to fake views of as many as 300 million video ads every day, tricking advertisers to pay for more views that are never actually being seen by humans. A “botnet” is a network of computers infected with malicious code that is controlled by hackers for a purpose only known to the hackers.

This allegation will depend on other security firms and the online advertising for confirmation, possibly the U.S. government. If the report is confirmed, the global online video advertising is being targeted by an explosion of fraud.

In spite of the significant advances made in the fight against ad fraud, it is still a widespread concern that exists in our digital advertising space. Click fraud and bot traffic were some of the most-cited concerns about media planning and buying among US media agencies and brand marketers. Naturally, any new and massive market opportunity will also include several negative externalities. One of the biggest concerns of the entire programmatic landscape is the risk of fraud. While this risk is certainly real, there are plenty of steps advertisers can take to ensure they are buying high-quality ad placements. In doing so, marketers and their agency partners can maximize their programmatic results and drive efficient ROI. With that in mind, here are several different measures that Choozle takes to ensure the quality of the sites we are serving on and to minimize fraudulent or non-viewable traffic.

Our Process:
• Web site inventory and click performance is monitored for suspicious click activity both manually and systematically, by Choozle and our ad network partners
• All previously detected “bad” IPs, sites and Users IDs are blocked at the exchange level
• Web site inventory and click performance are reviewed by Choozle using internal monitoring tools for suspicious activity and low viewability
• Offenders are added to a Global Block List, removed from our Supply Vendors list, and reported
• Choozle has a default block list automatically incorporated into all campaigns, which is compiled both at the ad network and the platform (i.e., Choozle) level to include sites with unseemly content, poor performance, etc. to keep inventory quality high

Also, we provide fully transparent site list reports, which allows you the ability to monitor activity and create advertiser specific block lists using these site placements on underperforming sites or sites you don’t want to be on. As an advertiser, you should leverage all reporting options to make informed and proactive campaign decisions. These detailed reports will allow you to analyze your Web traffic for any numbers that seem too good to be true (because they probably are). Using third-party tracking tags can offer another layer of security and allow you to compare metrics against an objective and trusted source.

Detecting and beating fraud will always be a moving target. But with the utilization of currently available tools and best practices, smart players can outwit the fraudsters, like MethBot, and ensure the health of this transformative medium, driving positive results for all programmatic advertisers.