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Search Ad Fraud Explainer by Augustine Fou

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Search ad fraud is committed by advanced bots that can cause the search ad to load and then click on it to generate the CPC revenue.

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Search Ad Fraud Explainer by Augustine Fou

  1. 1. Search Ad Fraud Explainer May 2015 Augustine Fou, PhD. acfou [at] mktsci. com 212. 203. 7239
  2. 2. May 2015 / Page 1marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL UPDATED: Full Year 2014 Digital Ad Spend – $50B Impressions (CPM/CPV) Clicks (CPC) Leads (CPL) Sales (CPA) Search 38% $18.8B Video 7% $3.5B Lead Gen 4% $2.0B 10% Other $5.0B Source: IAB, FY 2014 Internet Advertising Report, May 2015 $42.5B Display 16% $7.9B Mobile 25% $6.2B$6.2B CPM Performance • classifieds • sponsorship • rich media $7.0B
  3. 3. May 2015 / Page 2marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL Impressions and clicks remain the biggest targets Impressions (CPM/CPV) Clicks (CPC) Search $18.8B 86% digital spend Display $7.9B Video $3.5B Mobile $6.2B$6.2B Leads (CPL) Sales (CPA) Lead Gen $2.0B Other $5.0B • classifieds • sponsorship • rich media estimated fraud not at risk (84% in 2013)
  4. 4. How Click (CPC) Fraud Works
  5. 5. May 2015 / Page 4marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL Two ingredients to commit fraud Fake Sites Fake Users 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Designed with no real content; exists only to carry ads Bots are automated browsers which load webpages to load ads
  6. 6. May 2015 / Page 5marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL 1. Bad guys put up fake sites • Algo generated using templates (e.g. The same wordpress template) • No content or plagiarized content • Stuffed with keywords ands ads • Uses keyword domains or domains with lots of numbers in them • Sends large quantities of ad impressions and search clicks
  7. 7. May 2015 / Page 6marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL 2. Bad guys choose expensive keywords homemadesimple.comolay.com “cosmetic face lift” $10.84 CPC “residential home cleaning” $9.95 CPC > 100,000 monthly searches avg position 1 – 10 sort by highest avg CPC Source: iSpionage
  8. 8. May 2015 / Page 7marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL 3. Their bots type keywords on sites they control buy eye cream online healthsiteproduc tionalways.com
  9. 9. May 2015 / Page 8marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL 4. Bots click on search ad to create CPC revenue Olay.com ad in #1 position
  10. 10. May 2015 / Page 9marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL 5. Pass fake URL trackers to hide the origin of the clicks Click thru URL passing fake source “utm_source=msn” http://www.olay.com/skin-care- products/OlayPro- X?utm_source=msn&utm_medium= cpc&utm_campaign=Olay_Search_D esktop_Category+Interest+Product.P hrase&utm_term=eye%20cream&ut m_content=TZsrSzFz_eye%20cream_ p_2990456911
  11. 11. May 2015 / Page 10marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL Examples of search fraud domains observed http://analyzecanceradvice .com http://analyzecancerhelp .com http://bestcanceropinion .com http://bestcancerproducts .com http://bestcancerresults .com http://besthealthopinion .com http://bettercanceradvice .com http://bettercancerhelp .com http://betterhealthopinion .com http://findcanceropinion .com http://findcancerresource .com http://findcancertopics .com http://findhealthopinion .com http://finestcanceradvice .com http://finestcancerhelp .com http://finestcancerresults .com http://getcancerproducts .com 36,000+ more sites like these, designed to show search ads and self-click on them to siphon CPC revenue
  12. 12. May 2015 / Page 11marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL Sites can be grouped into three “strata” Sites, networks and exchanges that cheat or look the other way • Stacked ads, auto-refresh • High ad-load, low viewability • Purchased traffic, audience expansion Sites created solely for ad fraud • Created by template/algo • Enormous quantity of ads • All traffic/impressions from bots Mainstream publishers with human + bot traffic • Legitimate publishers with real content that humans engage with, interact, read and watch • An unknown percentage of malicious bot traffic designed to enrich their cookie-profiles for later high-value re-targeting FRAUDSITE bot bot bot bot bot bot PUBLISHERuser bot user crawler user bot 2/3 1/3
  13. 13. May 2015 / Page 12marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL Different kinds of bots generate fake impressions/clicks Malware (on PCs)Botnets (from datacenters) Toolbars (in-browser)Javascript (on webpages)
  14. 14. May 2015 / Page 13marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL Humans vs “honest” bots vs fraudulent bots Confirmed humans • found page via search • observed events (mouse click with coordinates) “Honest” (declared) bots • search engine crawlers • declare user agent honestly • observed to be 1 – 5% of websites’ traffic Fraud bots • come from data centers • malware compromised PCs • deliberately disguise user agent as human users
  15. 15. May 2015 / Page 14marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL Bad guys’ bots are not in ANY official bot list 10,000 bots observed in the wild user-agents.org bad guys’ bots 3% Dstillery, Oct 9, 2014_ “findings from two independent third parties, Integral Ad Science and White Ops” 3.7% Rocket Fuel, Sep 22, 2014 “Forensiq results confirmed that ... only 3.72% of impressions categorized as high risk.” 2 - 3% comScore, Sep 26, 2014 “most campaigns have far less; more in the 2% to 3% range.” industry bot list “not on any list” disguised as normal browsers – Internet Explorer; constantly adapting to avoid detection”
  16. 16. May 2015 / Page 15marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL Click fraud data Bad guys’ sites show 100% click through rates Sophisticated bad guys’ sites had click through rates tuned to cover their tracks
  17. 17. May 2015 / Page 16marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL Click fraud case study: allocating away from fraud sites 18% of spend shifted from fraudulent websites to “top 5” good guys BEFORE Top 2 “good guys” = 76% AFTER Top 5 “good guys” = 94%
  18. 18. May 2015 / Page 17marketing.scienceconsulting group, inc. CONFIDENTIAL Dr. Augustine Fou – Independent Ad Fraud Researcher “I advise advertisers and their agencies on the technical aspects of fighting digital ad fraud. Using forensic technologies and techniques I help to assess the threat and the current countermeasures in order to recommend additional steps that can be taken to combat fraud and improve ROI.” FORMER CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER, HCG (OMNICOM) MCKINSEY CONSULTANT CLIENT SIDE / AGENCY SIDE EXPERIENCE PROFESSOR AND COLUMNIST ENTREPRENEUR / SMALL BUSINESS OWNER PHD MATERIALS SCIENCE (MIT '95) AT AGE 23 Articles: https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/84444-augustinefou Slideshares: http://bit.ly/augustine-fou-slideshares Bio: http://linkd.in/augustinefou acfou@mktsci.com | 212.203.7239