Ad fraud has become a popular topic nowadays. Rumored to be costing the advertising industry millions or even billions of dollars a year, ad fraud has nearly everyone in agreement that something needs to be done.
Master of the universe and a leader in online advertising, Google has finally unleashed a weapon to help combat ad fraud. This new feature automatically filters the traffic coming from the top ad fraud botnets that are currently plaguing the industry. Marketers can access this new feature on Google Display Network and DoubleClick Bid Manager.
“Our move to consistently and confidently cut out the traffic from these botnets represents a significant milestone in the defense of our advertising ecosystem,” said Andres Ferrate, chief advocate, ad traffic quality at Google. “Identifying ad fraud malware and protecting ad platforms against botnets is a sophisticated effort that requires deep technical knowledge, diligence, and the ability to think several steps ahead. It’s a game of chess against an opponent that is constantly changing the rules.”
The three main botnets, Bedep, Beetal and Changthangi, have already infected hundreds of thousands of devices and are responsible for generating fake traffic or serving ads that no one actually sees. These botnets are designed to mimic human behavior such as clicking articles or scrolling. In addition, they also control malware-infected computers, which are run by fraudsters who generate a large amount of non-human ad traffic to shady publishers. This then generates a large about of ad dollars for the fraudsters and publishers. A report by Distil Network claims that these fraudsters see $1 for every $3 spent, and according to a recent ad spend report, that would accumulate to over $18 billion annually.
Google states that they are now able to stop these botnets and the new feature is “resilient to possible changes” made to the malware that generates botnet traffic, which is often an issue when filtering out spam. Does this actually work? Only time will tell but for now, Google has again saved the day.