Display Ad Fraud 101 by Augustine Fou Technical Forensics


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Display ad fraud is more rampant today than it ever was due to the increased use of ad exchanges and programmatic media buying. Without humans actually verifying where the ads are shown, it has created enormous new opportunity for bad guys to commit digital display ad fraud -- selling tons of fake impressions into ad exchanges.

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Display Ad Fraud 101 by Augustine Fou Technical Forensics

  1. 1. Display Ad Fraud 101 Dr. Augustine Fou acfou [at] mktsci.com http://linkd.in/augustinefou February 2014 - 1 - Augustine Fou
  2. 2. Why Now? “As more ad inventory is bought and sold programmatically on ad exchanges, bad guys are finding it far easier to commit fraud because few agencies and advertisers actually check in detail the hundreds of thousands of sites on which the ads are run. It’s easier to hide in a far larger haystack.” -- Dr. Augustine Fou - 2 - Augustine Fou
  3. 3. Real-Time Bidding Real-Time Bidding to Account for 25% of Display- Ad Spending by 2015: eMarketer - 3 - Augustine Fou
  4. 4. Types of Ad Fraud Impressions (CPM fraud) Botnets generate fake pageviews which produce ad impression “inventory” that is sold into ad exchanges. Clicks (CPC fraud) Leads (CPL fraud) Sales (CPA fraud) Bots type search queries to bring up search ads and then click on the ads to earn share of CPC. Bot or low wage workers fill in lead forms with real addresses and get paid bounty per lead. Fake sites set up to do cookie stuffing or trick users to click on affiliate links to earn rev share. - 4 - Augustine Fou
  5. 5. How Impression (CPM) Ad Fraud Works - 5 - Augustine Fou
  6. 6. Bad Guys Put Up Sites site = analyzecanceradvice .com 19 blocked ads on page site = missomoms.com - 6 - Augustine Fou
  7. 7. Load Tons of Ads on Pages http://modernbab y.com/ http://interiorcom plex.com/ - 7 - Augustine Fou
  8. 8. Load Ads in Hidden iFrames Source: Spider.io May 2, 2013 Ads are hidden in up to 72 layers Entire web pages are loaded into ad iframes to boost impressions Multiple redirects and auto page refreshes - 8 - Augustine Fou
  9. 9. Fake their “Viewability” Source: Spider.io May 2, 2013 Ads are above the fold of the page But their pixel opacity can be set to zero (invisible) Entire web pages stuffed into ad iframe; ads counted as viewable - 9 - Augustine Fou
  10. 10. Use Bots to Load the Pages Source: Wired Source: Google Digital Attack Map - 10 - Augustine Fou
  11. 11. Traffic Firehose On/Off Source: Alexa Legit human traffic does not change rapidly; but bot traffic (firehose) can be rapidly turned off and directed to other sites. - 11 - Augustine Fou
  12. 12. Sell Fake Impressions “Modernbaby.com and Interiorcomplex.com Each of these sites peddles enormous traffic on the exchanges. For example, on a recent day Modern Baby was offering 19 million impressions via one exchange (quite the baby boom) and Interior Complex 30 million [ad impressions PER DAY] (the roaring housing market must be back).” Source: Adweek – Suspicious Web Domains Cost Online Ad Business $400m per Year Peak unique users 141k per month Peak unique users 115k per moth - 12 - Augustine Fou
  13. 13. Impression (CPM) Ad Fraud Sizing - 13 - Augustine Fou
  14. 14. Display Ad Impressions 30 – 75% fraudulent, not-in-view, adblocked IAB: FY 2012 Display Ad Spend = $7.7B • By far, the easiest to commit – fill a web page with many display ads and repeatedly load the page with scripts or bots • Clients pay on CPM basis and are usually goaled on the number of impressions delivered and CPM - 14 - Augustine Fou
  15. 15. Bot Traffic Estimates 24-29% confirmed bot Source: Solve Media Sept 2013 - 15 - Augustine Fou
  16. 16. Sources of Fake Impressions Ad exchanges are particularly prone to fraud because shady sites sell enormous quantities “ad impression inventory” into the exchanges for re-sale. Source: Integral Ad Science, via BusinessWeek Nov 26, 2013 - 16 - Augustine Fou
  17. 17. Viewability of Display Ads Publisher direct is best and lowest risk Source: Integral Ad Science Sept 2013 via MarketingCharts - 17 - Augustine Fou
  18. 18. Display Ad (CPM) Fraud Display Ads 500 billion display ad impressions /mo 29% Source: Solve Media 2013 confirmed bot traffic ~$1 - $3.50 cost per thousand $2-6 billion wasted ad spend (annualized) - 18 - Augustine Fou
  19. 19. Digital Ad Spend (IAB FY 2013) CPM Performance Impressions (CPM/CPV) Clicks (CPC) Leads (CPL) Sales (CPA) Search 43% $18.5B Display 19% $8.2B Video 7% $3.0B $6.5B NOTE: figures from IAB FY 2013 ($43B annual ad spend) Lead Gen 4% $1.7B 11% Other $4.8B $2.8B $3.7B Mobile 15% • classifieds • sponsorship • rich media • email Source: IAB, FY 2013 Internet Advertising Report, April 2014 $36.2B - 19 - Augustine Fou
  20. 20. Digital Ad Fraud Estimates Impressions (CPM/CPV) Clicks (CPC) Search $18.5B Display $8.2B Video $3.0B $2.8B $3.7B Mobile $36.2B Ad Spend Avg Fraud Rate Dollars Display 50% $4B Video 60% $2B Mobile 40% $2B Search 30% $6B TOTALS 39% $14B (U.S. digital ad spend only) Multiple sources - 20 - Augustine Fou
  21. 21. What Advertisers Can/Should Do - 21 - Augustine Fou
  22. 22. Areas of Optimization targeting delivery viewability bots /not seen by humans improving optimization waste reduction 30% 40% 30% - 22 - Augustine Fou
  23. 23. Low Hanging Fruit The most immediate, direct impact on ROI comes from reducing waste 25% On-Target Delivery (Nielsen) 54% Not In View (comScore) 23% Ad Blocked (PageFair) 24 – 29% confirmed bot (Solve Media) - 23 - Augustine Fou
  24. 24. Digital Ad Forensics Process Preliminary Scan Forensic Analysis Sizing of ad fraud • Technology Tools • Statistical analysis Maintenance Implementation FREE Preliminary analysis of paid campaigns and analytics to determine magnitude of the ad fraud impacting client. $$$ Creating recommended list of changes, including list of sites to exclude in each ad channel. • Budget shifts • Further optimization $ Subscribe to triangulated, cross-industry database of “ad fraud offenders” to continuously update blacklists and whitelists. - 24 - Augustine Fou
  25. 25. Related Articles Fake YouTube Videos By: Augustine Fou, December 2013 Fake Linkedin Profiles By: Augustine Fou, December 2013 Fake Facebook Profiles By: Augustine Fou, Dec 2013 Fake Twitter Accounts By: Augustine Fou, August 2013 An Ecosystem of Digital Ad Fraud By: Augustine Fou, October 2013 Digital Ad Fraud Briefing By: Augustine Fou December 2013 Ad Fraud Fighting Techniques By: Augustine Fou October 2013 How Display Fraud Works By: Augustine Fou, May 2013 How Click Fraud Works By: Augustine Fou, November 2013 The Magnitude of Digital Ad Fraud By: Augustine Fou, November 2013 - 25 - Augustine Fou
  26. 26. Dr. Augustine Fou – Technical Forensics “I advise clients on optimizing advertising across all channels. One main area of focus is reducing ad waste due to fraud – fake impressions, clicks, leads, and sales – which produces immediate ROI.” FORMER CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER, HCG (OMNICOM) MCKINSEY CONSULTANT CLIENT SIDE / AGENCY SIDE EXPERIENCE PROFESSOR AND COLUMNIST ENTREPRENEUR / SMALL BUSINESS OWNER PHD MATERIALS SCIENCE (MIT '95) AT AGE 23 ClickZ Articles: http://bit.ly/augustine-fou-clickz Slideshares: http://bit.ly/augustine-fou-slideshares LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/augustinefou - 26 - Augustine Fou @acfou
  27. 27. The Entire Ecosystem - 27 - Augustine Fou