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No More Ad Fraud? Filtering Automated Data-Center Traffic

Posted on 7.20.2015

There's a new initiative to block illegitimate and non-human ad traffic coming from data centers; and it could very well make a huge impact on the performance of ad campaigns online.

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an advertising industry initiative developed to fight criminal activity in the supply chain, announced a new blacklist comprising data-center IP addresses associated with non-human ad requests. The pilot program will initially use data center IP addresses from Google's database and will presumably enhance it over time with industry intelligence from platforms including Distillery, Facebook, MediaMath, Quantcast, Rubicon Project and others.

“Industry leaders like Google are stepping up to the plate to provide the information and tools we need to block fraudulent and illegitimate ad traffic at its source,” said TAG CEO Mike Zaneis. “This program is another piece of the interlocking set of solutions TAG is building to fight fraud across the entire ecosystem. The industry is galvanizing its efforts and we will win the war against fraud.”

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The new program will complement TAG’s recently-announced Fraud Threat List, through which companies share web domains that are sources of fraudulent traffic.

What's the Impact?

When observing the traffic generating by the IP adddress in the new shared blacklist, Google found "significantly distorted click metrics" - via Google's Online Security blog:

In May of 2015 on DoubleClick Campaign Manager alone, we found the blacklist filtered 8.9% of all clicks. Without filtering these clicks from campaign metrics, advertiser click-through rates would have been incorrect and for some advertisers this error would have been very large.

Google went into detail about the problem, even going as far as providing examples of bad data-center traffic and the collateral damage that can result.

"We’re excited by the collaborative spirit we’ve seen working with other industry leaders on this initiative," said Vegard Johnsen, Product Manager Google Ad Traffic Quality.

"This is an important, early step toward tackling fraudulent and illegitimate inventory across the industry and we look forward to sharing more in the future. By pooling our collective efforts and working with industry bodies, we can create strong defenses against those looking to take advantage of our ecosystem. We look forward to working with the TAG Anti-fraud working group to turn this pilot program into an industry-wide tool.

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