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Updates from Google on How They Fought Ad Fraud During 2015

5 MINUTE READ | June 10, 2016

Updates from Google on How They Fought Ad Fraud During 2015

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Addison Wheeler

Addison Wheeler has written this article. More details coming soon.

For a digital display campaign, your impact on your client’s business is only as good as the inventory you are running on. Today, knowing and trusting the inventory and sites your campaigns are running on is key. When it comes to large scale display campaigns running across multiple exchanges and inventory sources, this can quickly become very daunting for agencies alone. When it comes to fighting inventory quality and invalid traffic, it’s something that cannot be achieved by individual players in the industry. Building trust and eradicating bad sources must be a collaborative industry effort for the greater digital good. As digital advertisers, we are in a close-knit industry and we’re all in it together. This is something Google understands and specifically developed a task force to tackle the issue across their DoubleClick Bid Manager and DoubleClick Campaign Manager products. This task force is constructed globally with over 100 dedicated employees with the single goal of making the products we use the best they can be for our clients at PMG.In a recent article (published May 2016) posted by Andres Ferrate, Chief Advocate, Ad Traffic Quality at Google, he showcased the ways Google fought ad fraud during this past year. Below are the key action items their team accomplished.Ad Fraud Insights from Google during 2015 across DCM and DBM:Source1. We cut out injected ads. Unwanted ad injectors are rogue applications/software that insert new ads, or replace existing ones, into the pages that users visit while browsing the web (often showing ads that are not interesting or relevant to users). This harms advertisers, publishers, and users, while providing a bad user experience (we received over 300,000 user complaints about them in Chrome in 2015). We added to a growing number of ad traffic filters by extending protection for DoubleClick Bid Manager against injected ads using an automated data filter based on several blacklists produced by our operations team. Approximately 1.5% of the inventory across multiple exchanges is excluded as a result.2. We shared data to help filter bot traffic. Created by automated bots and spiders, bot traffic is artificially generated traffic that originates in data centers (facilities that contain large computing and storage systems). We partnered with the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) to produce a pilot program to share blacklists of data center IP addresses and domains associated with non-human ad requests or “bots,” (generated via automated data centre traffic). Back in May 2015 when the program launched, we found the blacklist filtered 8.9% of all clicks on DoubleClick Campaign Manager alone. Without filtering this invalid traffic from campaign metrics, advertiser click-through rates would have been inflated (vastly for some). This in turn would have had an impact on true campaign performance, and ultimately, return on investment for the advertiser.3. We expanded our defenses against botnets. These are the huge families of infected computers that work together across the web in a coordinated dance aimed at generating massive amounts of invalid traffic by mimicking human behavior. Our team of engineers (or warrior scientists, as we sometimes like to call them) have been fighting ad fraud botnets and the malware that allows them to thrive for years. As with other defenses, we expanded protection of our ad systems by launching an innovative type of filter. This filter works by excluding traffic from three of the top ad fraud botnets (each comprised of more than 500,000 infected machines) and is also resistant to ongoing changes, aimed at making it hard to detect the malware that drives these botnets.4. We boosted protection against falsely represented inventory. Ads showing up on illegitimate sites may be harmful for brands and are usually the result of falsely represented inventory (which occurs when the seller intentionally makes it look like their traffic is coming from another website). In some instances we’ve seen this type of activity account for up to 40% of inventory for a particular exchange purchased by DoubleClick Bid Manager. In addition to our ongoing operations work to exclude illegitimate and shady web sites, we launched a filter that extends this protection in an automated way, making it even harder for this type of abuse to occur, protecting brands’ and publishers’ best interests. Advertisers know their ads are being seen in the right places, whilst legitimate publishers aren’t being cheated out of revenue from ads sold in their name.5. We worked with others in the industry to forge a common language for our ecosystem. The industry needs to strive for precision when discussing these issues. With this in mind, it’s important to agree on a common language, which is why we’ve worked closely with the IAB TechLab and the Transparency Accountability Group (TAG) to create a taxonomy that organizes fraudulent traffic into five groups. Having clear labels about ad fraud means we can reduce confusion and communicate consistently.6. We’ve collaborated with the industry on transparency. As an industry, we have a responsibility to promote transparency in the work that we do. At Google, we’ve been public about many of our projects in the fight against ad fraud, including putting into place policies to tackle hidden ads, injected inventory, and falsely represented inventory; processes to exclude automated data centre traffic; and robust defenses against botnets. We are also collaborating with key industry players on the new Payment ID system that makes it hard for fraudsters trying to cheat the system. We’re fully committed to improving ad traffic quality for players across the digital ecosystem, making the web a safer place for everyone.

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