New AdSecure Platform Will Help Advertisers and Publishers Avoid Invalid Traffic and Assure Ad Campaign Security
Founders Say Phony Traffic Costs Major Brands/Publishers
More Than $10 Billion Annually in Wasted Ad Spending
First Study Results: Pay-Per-View Networks Cost Advertisers Over $180 Million Annually
MADISON, WI – Broadcast Interactive Media (BIM), whose evolving suite of Web, video, and mobile publishing tools help increase client revenues by attracting more traffic and improving ad delivery, today announced it will spin off a new company, MdotLabs, that will help advertisers, demand-side platforms, and publisher networks ID and avoid invalid traffic which is now costing the online ad ecosystem over $10 billion every year in wasted ad spending. In one of its first studies, MdotLabs found that a significant percentage of the top 100 online advertisers are being victimized by PPV networks that perpetrate traffic fraud.
“Traffic which is not the result of genuine interest from a desired human user, including malware generated traffic, non-human (bot) traffic and fraudulent traffic generation techniques – especially from traffic exchanges – is costing online advertisers and their partners, tens of billions of dollars in wasted impressions,” says MdotLabs Chief Scientist and co-founder Paul Barford, also a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin. “MdotLabs has developed campaign security analytics that provide highly accurate and timely detection of invalid impression and click activity for both online and mobile traffic. Our AdSecure Platform will assure campaign protection for brands and agencies.”
“Fake display-ad impressions are estimated to account for about 30% of overall online traffic,” says Timur Yarnall, CEO and co-founder of MdotLabs. “That puts display fraud waste at $3.6 to $4.5 billion annually in the US alone. That doesn’t include video, mobile, or the rest of the world. We believe the estimate would easily top $10 billion on a global basis.”
Simple to install, simple to use and highly effective, the MdotLabs AdSecure Platform prevents botnet and click spam thereby protecting DSPs and advertisers from invalid activity while protecting publisher networks from fraudulent charges for clicks from invalid traffic.
“MdotLabs is not only an asset for publishers and traffic/inventory intermediaries, it is essential for agencies because its real-time traffic quality detection helps assures ads are delivered to real users,” says Mr. Yarnall. “Better performance leads to increased ROI and the visibility MdotLabs creates into downstream inventory will help agencies make vendor decisions based on better intelligence.”
Pay-Per-View Networks Cost Advertisers Over $180 Million Annually
“We conservatively estimate the number of invalid impressions that are generated from PPV networks to be on the order of 500 million per day. Assuming the modest quality level for sites that are part of PPV networks, we estimate the cost to advertisers for this fraudulent traffic to be on the order of $180 million annually,” says Dr. Barford.
PPV networks are groups of web publishers who (generally unknowingly) install what appears to be legitimate advertising software (adware) on their sites. The PPV adware launches when users visit the publisher’s site and initiates a simple action such as clicking on a page. The user is served a pop-under page, which includes web pages from many other publishers that are invisible to the user. The publisher running the PPV adware get paid every time a user accesses their page.
PPV networks generate revenue by promoting their traffic generation capability to publishers. Traffic generation offerings generally tout the real and unique users that they can bring to a publishers site, along with geo-location and context specificity among other things. While there are many legitimate traffic generation offerings available (e.g., Google Adwords), there are also many different fraudulent ways in which impressions and clicks can be generated.
“We’re applying methods that are standard in the computer security community to the problem of identifying fraudulent activity in on line advertising,” says Dr. Barford. “This means identifying threats such as bots and PPV networks, and designing methods for measuring and avoiding these threats.”
MdotLabs investigated the problem of PPV networks by posing as a web publisher and signing up for several different traffic generation services. Using a variety of analysis methods on data sets collected over the past year, the Mdotlabs team focused their efforts on 10 different PPV networks that span hundreds of publisher sites. Their analysis revealed that these 10 networks alone are responsible for over 500 million invalid ad impressions per month, cheating many top brands and advertisers.
Dr. Barford and BIM Director of Engineering, Kevin Springborn, are presenting the details of their study, entitled “Impression Fraud in On-line Advertising via Pay-Per-View Networks” at the Usenix Security Symposium in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, August 14 at 4pm.
“For more than 10 years we have been working with high demand local media and pure play publishers focused on interactive mobile, display, and video inventory,” says Mr. Yarnall. “Since we have been seeing toughly 500 million monthly impressions from over 40 million unique visitors, we have been able to see a wide swath of traffic and identify the kinds of irregularities that point to invalid activity for both brands and publishers.”
“I am exceedingly lucky to have Paul Barford as a partner. He is the Founder of Nemean Systems (acquired by Qualys in 2011) and an industry and academic leader in network security and data analytics.”
MdotLabs (www.MdotLabs.com) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Broadcast Interactive Media (BIM) (www.broadcast-interactive.com), a leading digital ad network and data services provider of revenue and technical solutions to online publishers and a trusted resource for hundreds of local broadcasters and media sites worldwide. AdSecure is a product of BIM helping its media clients track and eliminate invalid traffic.
MdotLabs is privately funded, based in Madison, WI, with offices in San Francisco, CA.