The Four Technology Approaches to Combatting Digital Ad Fraud

December 2, 2015 Charlie Minesinger

It’s no secret that the digital advertising marketplace is under sustained attack from increasingly sophisticated bots that divert, steal, and defraud billions of dollars every year. Fortunately, Digital publishers have a number of tools and techniques at their disposal to combat digital ad fraud that go beyond the tradition of log analysis (post mortem) and simple IP blocking.

Comparison Matrix of Digital Ad Fraud Solutions

Digital ad fraud solution vendors typically take one of four technology approaches. The on-page approach takes the form of JavaScript installed on the website, similar to Google Analytics, which characterizes visitors that come to the site. Other approaches work in the ad exchange so that, when a bid request comes in, the site on which the ad is about to be served is analyzed, along with characteristics about the user or cookie. If fraudulent activity is detected, the ad isn’t served.

Then there is the challenge-based approach, such as CAPTCHAs, where the user is asked to prove they are human by solving the challenge.  And finally, the reverse proxy approach is the latest way to detect, measure and block fraudulent traffic before it hits the website.

Briefly, it is important to note some key differences in these approaches.  The challenge-based approach is often easily overcome by bot operators and solutions are easily obtained, thus these CAPTCHAs are often speed bumps for the bots, not effective deterrents.  The on-page and in-ad exchange approaches are very popular because they are architected to fit within the existing advertising technology stack.  However, “pixels” and firing JavaScript has been widely adopted because it is easy and familiar since it is primarily used to provide attribution; the pixel was never intended to anchor a security service.  The reverse proxy, on the other hand, was architected specifically to provide enterprise security capabilities for a cyber kill chain and give publishers direct control over unsolicited, inbound bot traffic and web scrapers.

This last approach will be discussed in more details in our next blog post on digital ad fraud prevention using the reverse proxy approach.

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About the Author

Charlie Minesinger

Charlie Minesinger is the Director of Sales at Distil Networks focused on strategic accounts and channels. Charlie has over a decade of experience selling into enterprises and brand accounts, including Sprint, Disney, Nortel, Amazon, Cisco, AIG, Mattel. Charlie brings with him experience in start-ups and selling into new markets.

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