If you are anything like Ralph Nader you saw this coming. Ad fraud is something that is on the mind of marketers everywhere since you are at the mercy of the platforms displaying your ads. When all your reports and metrics are based on numbers being provided to you by that service, like using Google Analytics to monitor your Google AdWords, you have to put all of your trust in Google, or Facebook, or whoever is taking your PPC dollars. Check out this article from Marketing Land on a recent fraud operation and what Google is doing to prevent more of the same!

Google Responds to Large Ad Fraud Operation that Utilized More Than 125 Android Apps


The company says the operation affected less than $10M in ad spend and deploys new tactics to fight it.



In a report Tuesday, Buzzfeed News concluded an investigation into a widespread ad fraud operation that involved more than 125 Android apps and websites.What happened. Buzzfeed’s report says that a company called We Purchase Apps scooped up apps and companies from developers and connected them into a network of front and shell companies in Cyprus, Malta, British Virgin Islands, Croatia, Bulgaria, and other locations. Many of the affected apps are targeted to kids or teens. A source involved in the scheme reportedly estimated it has “stolen hundreds of millions of dollars” from brands whose ads were shown to bots instead of actual humans.

What it means. Millions of people have downloaded the affected Android apps. BuzzFeed concluded that a significant portion of users were secretly tracked as they engaged with the apps so the fraudsters could model user behavior. “By copying actual user behavior in the apps, the fraudsters were able to generate fake traffic that bypassed major fraud detection systems,” the report stated.

How it works. In its response to the BuzzFeed report, Google explained how the botnet — dubbed TechSnab — works to inflate ad revenue by creating botnets to visit web pages.

“These botnets drove traffic to a ring of websites created specifically for this operation, and monetized with Google and many third-party ad exchanges,” Google said.

Google reacts. The company estimated that the dollar value of impacted Google advertisers spend was under $10 million and that the “majority of impacted advertiser spend was from invalid traffic on inventory from non-Google, third-party ad networks.”

Google said it removed all apps involved in the scheme this week and has “blacklisted additional apps and websites that are outside of our ad network, to ensure that advertisers using Display & Video 360 (formerly known as DoubleClick Bid Manager) do not buy any of this traffic. We are continuing to monitor this operation and will continue to take action if we find any additional invalid traffic.”

Why you should care. Ad fraud hits marketers directly in the wallet…

Read more at Marketing Land

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