Ad Fraud is at an All Time High: Distance Your Site From One of the World’s Most Profitable Criminal Enterprises.

Despite contrary claims from the ad industry, instances of ad fraud haven’t diminished. In fact, according to ad fraud researcher and technical forensics expert Dr. Augustine Fou, fraudulent ad schemes have reached an all time high in both the dollars at stake and the rate of occurrences. In Dr. Fou’s recently published presentation “The State of Ad Fraud Q2 2018”, he outlines numerous examples of fraudulent practices that continue to generate billions of dollars for bad actors. Several of the angles he cites have a direct impact on publishers, including issues like malvertising, redirects, tracker security loopholes, sandboxing iframes, ad stacking and others.

Here’s some good news. Just about every publisher issue outlined by Dr. Fou is now addressable by applying new publisher-side technologies that execute two critical processes in tandem with each other: 1) They rigorously scan ads for a variety of potential problems, and 2) They automatically block ads that don’t meet specific standards and requirements.

Dr. Fou points out in his report that redirect ads (aka: “pop-ups”, “auto-nav”, “forced view”, etc.) are out of control with an estimated number of occurrences exceeding 100 billion per month. Auto-redirect schemes continue to target large publishers and are now costing advertisers (and publishers) over a billion dollars annually.

Our own tracking data shows a continual increase in the occurrences of redirects, as well.




Ad stacking is another example where fraudsters find ways to stack multiple ads within a single placement, with each ad in the stack counting as an impression whether it’s ever seen or not. To compound this issue, the bad guys have also gotten clever about ensuring that ads report as 100% viewable by stacking ads in placements above the fold.

Earlier this year, our scanning technology picked up similar, previously-undetected ad stacking scams that were actually enabled by header bidding. Once a scheme like this is identified, publishers can use advanced ad blocking tools to block the ads and related sources according to the publisher-defined ad blocking rules.

Dr. Fou’s report is a good reminder. While you don’t see it all every day, there’s a lot of ugly fraud out there. And, it seems to be getting uglier. New publisher-side ad blocking solutions are helping publishers distance themselves from the growing, messy tangle of digital fraud.

If you’d like to learn more about combatting fraud with publisher-side ad blocking technologies, please drop us a note. We’d be happy to help.