- A new kind of online ad fraud — "ad injection" — is a growing threat for publishers and web users, ad fraud detection companies told the Wall Street Journal.
- The practice goes like this: Fraudsters commandeer website visitors' browsers and fraudulently serve ads on publishers' websites. Typical ad fraud involves bots that mimic user behavior to defraud marketers, but ad injection attacks impact publishers by hijacking the ad real estate on their websites.
- Ad fraud detection firm WhiteOps found on one major publisher's website that 'injected' ads accounted more than 3% of all impressions, with sophisticated bot traffic making up less than 2%.
Ad fraud is an ongoing challenge for marketers, ad tech platforms and publishers alike. The best known type of fraud are bot-driven clicks that leave marketers paying for ads that never get viewed by an actual person.
The latest threat is “ad injection” malware that more directly affects publishers actually serving up ads on their websites. In ad injection, website visitors end up seeing fraudulent ads that either appear on publisher’s websites where no ads are normally seen, or may even be layered over legitimate ads on the publisher’s site.
While bot traffic is a problem that primarily impacts marketers, "ad injection" is a problem that mostly hurts publishers, who may lose ad revenue from the practice.
“From what we’re seeing, growth in ad-injection infection rates is higher than bots," Michael Tiffany, chief executive of WhiteOps, an ad fraud detection firm, told the Wall Street Journal. "There’s no question that ad bots inflating views is still profitable crime. I don’t want to say that’s unprofitable and there’s a switch, but we do think some people are shifting their payloads so that they’re doing less ad bot monetization and more ad injection monetization.”
Another ad fraud detection company, Forensiq, surveyed real-time automated ad auctions in September and found ad injection accounted for 12.5% of the inventory offered for sale, with that figure rising further to 16.5% in October.