It’s An Advertising Jungle Out There. Protecting Brands from Ad Fraud

By Charlene Weisler

In the world of cybersecurity, experts are finding that both the demand and supply side of business requires greater protection from unsavory advertising environments and malicious advertising threats, eliminating digital risk while increasing ROI on ad-spend. To that end, CHEQ and RiskIQ formed a partnership that advances the industry, creates visibility and protects assets across the entire digital advertising supply chain, affording advertisers, platforms, and publishers a greater sense of security and control over their online presence.

Daniel Avital, Chief Strategy Officer, CHEQ noted, “The rise of ad fraud has become a major threat, with up to 30% of all online ads served to bots, rather than humans, and ad fraud costing $51million a day in 2018.” In addition, he asserts that “brands are increasingly facing the threat of their ads repeatedly being served against violent, graphics and offensive content, such as rape or terrorism significantly damaging their brands.”

Launching the first of its kind cybersecurity-based study for the ad industry (as opposed to traditional ad-verification companies from the ad-tech space), CHEQ, examined four billion ad requests from October 2018 to February 2019, and found the following:

  • While just 18 percent of that online ad traffic was deemed fraudulent, 77% of it was considered “sophisticated invalid traffic” (SIVT).
  • SIVT vastly outnumbers more basic forms of ad fraud “general invalid traffic” (GIVT). Therefore, CHEQ concludes that ad-fraud threat is much greater than many imagine.

To help analyze and combat this ad fraud, CHEQ realized the need to develop more than 700 unique parameters to block ad fraud in absolute real-time including the use of Dynamic Code Patching, OS and device fingerprinting, and honeypots (bot traps) performed on every single impression. Adding to this effort is the use of AI-based image recognition to help reduce brand safety concerns where ads are placed near videos or sites served in unsavory contexts (for instance graphic and offensive content).

“The use of AI and more robust cybersecurity techniques is vital in moving away from simplistic measures relied upon by the industry such as using blacklisted keywords, or in the case of ad fraud, buying static IP lists purchased from data centers covering only 3-5% of all fake traffic,” stated Avital, adding, “Using these latest advances we can prevent almost all fraud and brand safety issues in real time.”

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