Global online ad fraud is set to hit $US7.2 billion in 2016 according to US ad Security company White Ops.
In a report of the global online ad market, White Ops says things called ‘botnets’ or ‘zombie armies’ will generate millions of fake clicks on online ads. The fake clicks are generated when a computer comes into contact with infected malware.
Publishers of dubious websites buy the software to inflate their audience figures and charge advertisers more for ads that nobody actually saw.
The White Ops study gave 49 US advertisers detection tags that measured if the person clicking on their ads was human or machine. It found the average cost to the advertiser in lost clicks was a staggering $US10 million.
Brands that were involved in the study included some of the US’s biggest advertisers including Ford, McDonald’s, WalMart and Mastercard. It found that almost nine per cent of traffic to their ads was fake.
White Ops assessment that the global ad market would fall victim to $US7.2 billion of ad fraud in 2016 was based on the global ad spend last year plus an estimated growth of 15 per cent this year.
On the upside, the study did find that the vast majority of ads it surveyed where clean and hadn’t been attacked by the zombie armies.
White Ops co-founder Dan Kaminsky said of the report: “Advertising fraud has the curious status of almost seeming legitimate — you couldn’t expect to get away with raiding a bank account or accessing someone else’s Gmail account, but defrauding advertisers, even by using the host user’s identifying cookies, doesn’t seem nearly as criminal.”