Archive for Todd Miller

Responding to Botnet Traffic

Posted by Todd Miller on July 8th, 2014 at 9:33 am

Compliance in the online advertising industry has always been a game of cat and mouse. The “Undernet” (botnets and fraudsters) achieves certain abilities, the industry responds with countermeasures, and the compliance cycle repeats. My previous articles covered why compliance is important, and I also laid out what Adaptive Media does to stay on constant guard against these threats. Now, I’d like to focus on how to respond if you find fraudulent traffic, as well as some thoughts on future threats.
Bot traffic is rarely an accident. If you find your owned-and-operated websites the victim of bot traffic, it is vital to launch an internal investigation right away. Talk with the folks responsible for managing and promoting that property. Find the source of the traffic, and make it stop. Implement a policy against purchasing traffic in bulk, and consider partnering with a 3rd party for bot detection and blocking solutions. Yes, additional traffic creates a revenue lift, but the cons far outweigh the pros. If bot-traffic is discovered on your sites, it will cost you a lot more to not only repair the financial damage, but also the damage to your brand and credibility.
Finding and preventing bot traffic to your owned-and-operated sites... Read more

Going One-on-One with Ad Fraud

Posted by Todd Miller on June 2nd, 2014 at 10:40 am

We experience the positive effects of the internet every day. Billions of people use the internet for business, banking, shopping, learning, sharing, and more. What we often don't see is the darker side of the online world. This is where fraud and criminal enterprises live and breathe. Here, machine traffic is purchased, advertising systems are exploited, stolen identities are traded, and credit card numbers are acquired. I like to call it “The Undernet,” and some refer to it as “The Dark Web.” It is fluid, mobile, and highly adaptive. The Undernet began as soon as people realized that money could be made online. In a previous article, I laid out why quality and compliance work is so important. Now I’ll focus on effective ways of practicing constant vigilance against these threats.
It’s always beneficial to develop a plan to ensure quality. At my company Adaptive Media, we have a three-pronged attack in place: our internal “play book”, 3rd party validation, and focused participation in industry self-regulatory organizations. This system is robust enough to deal with today’s threats and flexible enough to deal with whatever comes next.
Internal quality and compliance work begins with vetting and qualifying every Publisher before running advertising with... Read more

Constant Vigilance in the Online Advertising Industry

Posted by Todd Miller on May 16th, 2014 at 1:33 pm

In less than a generation, the Internet has become a transformative influence on the lives of billions of people. Originally designed for communication between scientists, engineers and universities, the Internet is, by design, inherently trusting. As in the real world, some people take advantage of the trust built into the system and corrupt it to match their agendas. That’s why constant vigilance is needed and should be required to maximize overall safety in the advertising and digital media industry.
Early online compliance efforts focused on traffic patterns related to IP, Referring URL and User Agent characteristics to root out fraudulent activity. Crazy pop-up schemes, forced clicks/impressions, and other tricks were the primary concerns. Online advertising matured and learned to better deal with those issues, which spawned a never-ending game of escalation. Systems relying on whitelists and blacklists were effective to a certain extent, but the really smart/motivated bad guys evolved past that.  Advanced tactics, including firing a pixel and breaking through iFrames to determine if a site is ‘brand safe’ have been incredibly valuable.
Today, the industry is asking new questions. What if the site looks professional, has ‘safe’ content and a high traffic-measurement rating? What if the site is really a... Read more