PPV Networks Fraud Cost Advertisers Over $180 Million Annually

Pay-Per-View Networks FraudPaul Barford, Co-founder of MdotLabs: “Pay-Per-View Networks Fraud Cost Advertisers Over $180 Million Annually”

Usenix Security Symposium

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.

A copy of Dr. Barford’s presentation can be found here: http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~pb/usenix13_final.pdf

“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.

MdotLabs (www.MdotLabs.com) launched just last week, 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.

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