Digital MarketingDisplay AdvertisingFake Display Ad Impressions Comprise 30% of All Online Traffic [Study]

Fake Display Ad Impressions Comprise 30% of All Online Traffic [Study]

Fraudulent or fake display-ad impressions account for as much as 30% of all online traffic today, according to new research from MdotLabs.

Not all traffic or clicks are created equal. Thanks to the rise of ad networks, exchanges and other third-party resellers, the volume of phony ad traffic and clicks is on the rise, according to new research from MdotLabs.

Fraudulent or fake display-ad impressions account for as much as 30 percent of all online traffic today, says Timur Yarnall, CEO and co-founder of the firm that helps brands track and eliminate invalid traffic.

“That puts display fraud waste at $3.6 to $4.5 billion annually in the US alone. That doesn’t include video, mobile, or the rest of the world. We believe the estimate would easily top $10 billion on a global basis,” says Yarnall.

The problem is being compounded on two separate fronts. The so-called optimization of online ad buying and selling is making it more difficult for brands and agencies to follow the money trail. Meanwhile, much of the blossoming ad tech industry continues to look the other way out of an apparent fear that it might shine a light on the suspicious traffic that pads their bottom lines.

After posing as web publisher and signing up for traffic generation services, the Madison, Wis.-based company identified other sites that work with the same Pay-Per-View (PPV) networks.

MdotLabs focused its investigation on 10 PPV networks that reach across hundreds of publisher sites. Major brands with instant recognition and affinity among most US residents–American Express, Allstate, AT&T, Audi, Avis, Comcast, Disney, EA Sports, Farmers, Honda, Maybelline, Priceline, Samsung, Staples, Subway and another dozen or so–are paying millions of dollars every year for ad impressions that are never seen by humans, according to the firm.

“It’s important to note we’ve had a chance to thoroughly research only a small fraction of the PPV networks currently in operation,” notes Yarnall.

“We conservatively estimate the number of invalid impressions that are generated from these PPV networks alone to be on the order of 15 billion per month. 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 Paul Barford, chief scientist and co-founder at Mdotlabs.

“Traffic which is not the result of genuine interest from a desired human user, including malware generated traffic, non-human (bot) traffic and fraudulent traffic generation techniques – especially from traffic exchanges – is costing online advertisers and their partners, tens of billions of dollars in wasted impressions,” Barford adds.

MdotLabs launched last month and released these latest results October 3rd, as a follow-on to their earlier study Impression Fraud in Online Advertising via Pay-Per-View Networks.

Related Articles

Optimizing Facebook ads for success and better ROI in 2017

Display Advertising Optimizing Facebook ads for success and better ROI in 2017

9m Eimantas Balciunas
How brands can make the most of header bidding

Display Advertising How brands can make the most of header bidding

1y Rory Edwards
APAC to overtake North America as world’s biggest digital ad market

Asia APAC to overtake North America as world’s biggest digital ad market

1y Sophie Loras
Stats of the Week: Mobile ad revenue, mobile ad blocking

Display Advertising Stats of the Week: Mobile ad revenue, mobile ad blocking

1y Mike O'Brien
Google blocked 780m 'bad ads' in 2015. Woah

Display Advertising Google blocked 780m 'bad ads' in 2015. Woah

2y Mike O'Brien
Ad fraud continues to cost brands billions

Ad Industry Metrics Ad fraud continues to cost brands billions

2y Mike O'Brien
Fraud and viewability: could things be looking up?

Display Advertising Fraud and viewability: could things be looking up?

2y Emily Alford
The missing 98 percent: why offline attribution matters

Display Advertising The missing 98 percent: why offline attribution matters

2y Kevin Lee