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Video Ad Fraud Hidden in Plain Sight Investigated by Augustine Fou

Video ad views seem to have exploded four-fold while there was very little corresponding increase in hours viewed and number of unique viewers. This can only partially be explained by higher video ad fill rate. The rest is likely to be fraudulent views generated by botnets.

1 of 29
Video Ad Fraud 
Hiding in Plain Sight 
Dr. Augustine Fou 
http://linkd.in/augustinefou 
acfou @mktsci .com 
April 2014 
- 1 - Augustine Fou
Time Spent on Online Video 
in 2013 is flat to 2012 
2012 2013 
2013 hours and unique 
viewers are FLAT to 2012 
Source: comScore, Jan 2014 
- 2 - Augustine Fou
But ad views exploded 4-fold 
Source: comScore Feb 2014 via Marketing Charts 
50 – 75% 
NOT in view 
- 3 - Augustine Fou
Frequency rose 4-fold 
reach increased 10% 
10% increase in reach 
Source: comScore Feb 2014 via Marketing Charts 
- 4 - Augustine Fou
Video Ad Viewability 
Jan 2014 North America 
50 – 75% 
NOT in view 
Smallest video ads are only 25% viewable 
Medium video ads are 40% viewable 
Large video ads are 50% viewable 
Source: TubeMogul Jan 2014 
- 5 - Augustine Fou
Video Ads Are Lucrative 
Video ad CPMs 
average $8 - $12, 
which means they 
are more than 10X 
more lucrative for 
bad guys to target 
than display or 
mobile ads. 
Source: Turn, Inc. October 2013 
- 6 - Augustine Fou
Video Fraud (March 2014 data) 
Total video ads March 2014 = 28.7B 
Source: comScore 
Fake video ad impressions per day = 88.4M /day 
Source: TubeMogul Report 
“from 3 botnets” 
Fake video ads per month = 2.7B /month 
3 botnets accounted for 9.2% of video ad views 
(assuming $10 CPMs, 3 botnets caused $27 million of waste in March) 
- 7 - Augustine Fou
So What? 
“The ENTIRE increase (75% of the total current video 
ad views) could be considered ‘very very suspicious.’ 
The pattern of actual human users watching video grew 
steadily at 10% per year and ecommerce rate grew 12% 
YoY; but video ads grew almost 400%, including the most 
lucrative month of the year (December) when advertisers 
massively upped their budgets to capture holiday sales. 
Bad guys go where the money is and this is certainly 
their gravy train.” 
-- Dr. Augustine Fou 
- 8 - Augustine Fou
comScore Raw Data 
- 9 - Augustine Fou
ComScore March 2014 
- 10 - Augustine Fou
Unique Viewers 2013 
179,505 
177,955 
182,497 
Unique Viewers (000) 
181,934 
182,217 
183,308 
187,430 
188,499 
188,690 
188,976 
189,178 
188,249 
200,000 
190,000 
180,000 
170,000 
160,000 
150,000 
140,000 
130,000 
120,000 
110,000 
100,000 
Source: comScore Online Video Rankings Monthly 
- 11 - Augustine Fou
Minutes per Viewer 2013 
1,140 
1,046 
flat 
1,203 
Minutes per Viewer 
1,202 
1,248 
1,299 
1,354 
1,294 
1,248 
1,330 
1,177 
1,164 
1,600 
1,400 
1,200 
1,000 
800 
600 
400 
200 
- 
Source: comScore Online Video Rankings Monthly 
- 12 - Augustine Fou
Content Videos 2013 
36,194 
33,031 
39,307 
38,751 
Videos (M) 
40,954 
44,694 
48,466 
46,746 
45,963 
49,081 
47,148 
52,374 
60,000 
50,000 
40,000 
30,000 
20,000 
10,000 
- 
Source: comScore Online Video Rankings Monthly 
- 13 - Augustine Fou
Video Ads 2013 
Source: comScore Online Video Rankings Monthly 
9,094 
9,865 
13,185 
13,256 
Video Ads (M) 
15,845 
20,091 
19,600 
22,755 
22,934 
24,490 
26,758 
35,235 
40,000 
35,000 
30,000 
25,000 
20,000 
15,000 
10,000 
5,000 
- 
- 14 - Augustine Fou
Ad Minutes 2013 
Source: comScore Online Video Rankings Monthly 
3,494 
3,774 
5,036 
Total Ad Minutes (M) 
5,137 
6,042 
7,487 
7,428 
8,516 
8,530 
9,220 
10,234 
13,235 
14,000 
12,000 
10,000 
8,000 
6,000 
4,000 
2,000 
- 
- 15 - Augustine Fou
Ad Minutes per User 2013 
Source: comScore Online Video Rankings Monthly 
19 21 
28 28 
Ad Mins per Viewer 
33 
41 40 
45 45 
49 
54 
70 
80 
70 
60 
50 
40 
30 
20 
10 
- 
- 16 - Augustine Fou
How Video Ad Views 
are Manufactured 
- 17 - Augustine Fou
Use Botnets to Create Views 
Source: Wired 
Source: Google Digital Attack Map 
- 18 - Augustine Fou
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. 
- 19 - Augustine Fou
Normal vs Fake Traffic 
Normal traffic differs from 
site to site 
FAKE traffic is the same 
across several sites 
(corresponds to the amount 
that was purchased) 
- 20 - Augustine Fou
Other “gray-hat” 
ways to inflate views 
- 21 - Augustine Fou
Autoplay Video Ads 
Break.com 
Multiple video 
ads auto-played 
simultaneously 
on the same 
page. 
- 22 - Augustine Fou
Autoplay (4) Ads 
Metacafe.com 
Multiple video ads auto-played 
back to back with 
no user intervention. 
- 23 - Augustine Fou
Autoplay Video Takeover 
Break.com 
Autoplayed T-mobile 
video ad in full page 
takeover. 
- 24 - Augustine Fou
Dr. Augustine Fou – Digital Consigliere 
“Over the course of 2013 we saw the 
dramatic rise in the number of display and 
video ads; however, along with this increase 
was a dramatic rise in ad fraud, from fake 
impressions or ads that are not viewable.” 
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 Bio: http://linkd.in/augustinefou 
LinkedIn Posts: https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/84444-augustinefou 
- 25 - Augustine Fou 
@acfou
Related Reading 
Viewability of Online Ads 
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 
How Display Fraud Works 
By: Augustine Fou, May 2013 
How Click Fraud Works 
By: Augustine Fou, November 2013 
Ad Fraud Estimates 
By: Augustine Fou, March 2014 
Digital Ad Spending by Type 
By: Augustine Fou March 2014 
The Three Things You Should Know about Digital Ad Fraud 
By: Augustine Fou April 2014 
- 26 - Augustine Fou
APPENDIX 
- 27 - Augustine Fou
U.S. Retail E-commerce 
2012 
2013 
12% YoY 
Source: comScore via MarketingCharts April 9, 2014 
- 28 - Augustine Fou
comScore data sources 
https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/2/comScore_Releases_January_2013_US_Online_Video 
_Rankings 
http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/3/comScore_Releases_February_2013_U.S._Online_Vide 
o_Rankings 
https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/4/comScore_Releases_March_2013_US_Online_Video_ 
Rankings 
https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/5/comScore_Releases_April_2013_US_Online_Video_ 
Rankings 
https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/6/comScore_Releases_May_2013_US_Online_Video_R 
ankings 
http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/7/comScore_Releases_June_2013_US_Online_Video_Ra 
nkings 
http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/8/comScore_Releases_July_2013_US_Online_Video_Ra 
nkings 
http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/9/comScore_Releases_August_2013_U.S._Online_Video 
_Rankings 
https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/10/comScore_Releases_September_2013_US_Online_V 
ideo_Rankings 
http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/11/comScore_Releases_October_2013_US_Online_Vide 
o_Rankings 
http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/12/comScore_Releases_November_2013_U.S._Online_V 
ideo_Rankings 
https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2014/1/comScore_Releases_December_2013_US_Online_Vid 
eo_Rankings 
- 29 - Augustine Fou

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Video Ad Fraud Hidden in Plain Sight Investigated by Augustine Fou

  • 1. Video Ad Fraud Hiding in Plain Sight Dr. Augustine Fou http://linkd.in/augustinefou acfou @mktsci .com April 2014 - 1 - Augustine Fou
  • 2. Time Spent on Online Video in 2013 is flat to 2012 2012 2013 2013 hours and unique viewers are FLAT to 2012 Source: comScore, Jan 2014 - 2 - Augustine Fou
  • 3. But ad views exploded 4-fold Source: comScore Feb 2014 via Marketing Charts 50 – 75% NOT in view - 3 - Augustine Fou
  • 4. Frequency rose 4-fold reach increased 10% 10% increase in reach Source: comScore Feb 2014 via Marketing Charts - 4 - Augustine Fou
  • 5. Video Ad Viewability Jan 2014 North America 50 – 75% NOT in view Smallest video ads are only 25% viewable Medium video ads are 40% viewable Large video ads are 50% viewable Source: TubeMogul Jan 2014 - 5 - Augustine Fou
  • 6. Video Ads Are Lucrative Video ad CPMs average $8 - $12, which means they are more than 10X more lucrative for bad guys to target than display or mobile ads. Source: Turn, Inc. October 2013 - 6 - Augustine Fou
  • 7. Video Fraud (March 2014 data) Total video ads March 2014 = 28.7B Source: comScore Fake video ad impressions per day = 88.4M /day Source: TubeMogul Report “from 3 botnets” Fake video ads per month = 2.7B /month 3 botnets accounted for 9.2% of video ad views (assuming $10 CPMs, 3 botnets caused $27 million of waste in March) - 7 - Augustine Fou
  • 8. So What? “The ENTIRE increase (75% of the total current video ad views) could be considered ‘very very suspicious.’ The pattern of actual human users watching video grew steadily at 10% per year and ecommerce rate grew 12% YoY; but video ads grew almost 400%, including the most lucrative month of the year (December) when advertisers massively upped their budgets to capture holiday sales. Bad guys go where the money is and this is certainly their gravy train.” -- Dr. Augustine Fou - 8 - Augustine Fou
  • 9. comScore Raw Data - 9 - Augustine Fou
  • 10. ComScore March 2014 - 10 - Augustine Fou
  • 11. Unique Viewers 2013 179,505 177,955 182,497 Unique Viewers (000) 181,934 182,217 183,308 187,430 188,499 188,690 188,976 189,178 188,249 200,000 190,000 180,000 170,000 160,000 150,000 140,000 130,000 120,000 110,000 100,000 Source: comScore Online Video Rankings Monthly - 11 - Augustine Fou
  • 12. Minutes per Viewer 2013 1,140 1,046 flat 1,203 Minutes per Viewer 1,202 1,248 1,299 1,354 1,294 1,248 1,330 1,177 1,164 1,600 1,400 1,200 1,000 800 600 400 200 - Source: comScore Online Video Rankings Monthly - 12 - Augustine Fou
  • 13. Content Videos 2013 36,194 33,031 39,307 38,751 Videos (M) 40,954 44,694 48,466 46,746 45,963 49,081 47,148 52,374 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 - Source: comScore Online Video Rankings Monthly - 13 - Augustine Fou
  • 14. Video Ads 2013 Source: comScore Online Video Rankings Monthly 9,094 9,865 13,185 13,256 Video Ads (M) 15,845 20,091 19,600 22,755 22,934 24,490 26,758 35,235 40,000 35,000 30,000 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 - - 14 - Augustine Fou
  • 15. Ad Minutes 2013 Source: comScore Online Video Rankings Monthly 3,494 3,774 5,036 Total Ad Minutes (M) 5,137 6,042 7,487 7,428 8,516 8,530 9,220 10,234 13,235 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 - - 15 - Augustine Fou
  • 16. Ad Minutes per User 2013 Source: comScore Online Video Rankings Monthly 19 21 28 28 Ad Mins per Viewer 33 41 40 45 45 49 54 70 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 - - 16 - Augustine Fou
  • 17. How Video Ad Views are Manufactured - 17 - Augustine Fou
  • 18. Use Botnets to Create Views Source: Wired Source: Google Digital Attack Map - 18 - Augustine Fou
  • 19. 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. - 19 - Augustine Fou
  • 20. Normal vs Fake Traffic Normal traffic differs from site to site FAKE traffic is the same across several sites (corresponds to the amount that was purchased) - 20 - Augustine Fou
  • 21. Other “gray-hat” ways to inflate views - 21 - Augustine Fou
  • 22. Autoplay Video Ads Break.com Multiple video ads auto-played simultaneously on the same page. - 22 - Augustine Fou
  • 23. Autoplay (4) Ads Metacafe.com Multiple video ads auto-played back to back with no user intervention. - 23 - Augustine Fou
  • 24. Autoplay Video Takeover Break.com Autoplayed T-mobile video ad in full page takeover. - 24 - Augustine Fou
  • 25. Dr. Augustine Fou – Digital Consigliere “Over the course of 2013 we saw the dramatic rise in the number of display and video ads; however, along with this increase was a dramatic rise in ad fraud, from fake impressions or ads that are not viewable.” 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 Bio: http://linkd.in/augustinefou LinkedIn Posts: https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/84444-augustinefou - 25 - Augustine Fou @acfou
  • 26. Related Reading Viewability of Online Ads 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 How Display Fraud Works By: Augustine Fou, May 2013 How Click Fraud Works By: Augustine Fou, November 2013 Ad Fraud Estimates By: Augustine Fou, March 2014 Digital Ad Spending by Type By: Augustine Fou March 2014 The Three Things You Should Know about Digital Ad Fraud By: Augustine Fou April 2014 - 26 - Augustine Fou
  • 27. APPENDIX - 27 - Augustine Fou
  • 28. U.S. Retail E-commerce 2012 2013 12% YoY Source: comScore via MarketingCharts April 9, 2014 - 28 - Augustine Fou
  • 29. comScore data sources https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/2/comScore_Releases_January_2013_US_Online_Video _Rankings http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/3/comScore_Releases_February_2013_U.S._Online_Vide o_Rankings https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/4/comScore_Releases_March_2013_US_Online_Video_ Rankings https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/5/comScore_Releases_April_2013_US_Online_Video_ Rankings https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/6/comScore_Releases_May_2013_US_Online_Video_R ankings http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/7/comScore_Releases_June_2013_US_Online_Video_Ra nkings http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/8/comScore_Releases_July_2013_US_Online_Video_Ra nkings http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/9/comScore_Releases_August_2013_U.S._Online_Video _Rankings https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/10/comScore_Releases_September_2013_US_Online_V ideo_Rankings http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/11/comScore_Releases_October_2013_US_Online_Vide o_Rankings http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/12/comScore_Releases_November_2013_U.S._Online_V ideo_Rankings https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2014/1/comScore_Releases_December_2013_US_Online_Vid eo_Rankings - 29 - Augustine Fou