The Financial Times of London reported this week that hacked PCs have been creating billions of phony ad clicks. This is not the first time we’ve heard of ad click fraud. It’s a good reminder that when putting together an online marketing plan, put most of your budget into ranking in organic search results as opposed to pay-per-click.
Hacked PCs falsify billions of ad clicks
Online investigators have exposed a network of hijacked computers that defrauded advertisers by generating billions of fake ad views. The so-called botnet scheme, which hijacked 120,000 residential PCs in the US and cost advertisers millions of dollars a month, highlights the increasing complexity and opacity of online advertising.
Spider.io, a London-based start-up that tracks web browsing activity, estimates traffic from the “Chameleon” botnet accounted for almost two-thirds of the total visits to certain websites. The inflated number of page views increased advertising revenues for the websites’ owners.
In a report published on Tuesday, Spider.io said the hijacked PCs generated up to 9bn ad views or “impressions” every month across a network of more than 200 sites. Sophisticated software even mimicked cursor movements and mouse clicks, giving the impression that potential consumers were visiting the sites.
“It is difficult to imagine why one would run this type of botnet across a cluster of 202 sites other than to commit display advertising fraud,” Douglas de Jager, Spider.io’s chief executive, said in the report. The websites that attracted the traffic charge an average 69 cents per thousand ad impressions, meaning the botnet is costing advertisers about $6m a month.
Read complete story at the Financial Times