How big would $5 million in fake video views every day be? Really, really big, according to cyber security firm White Ops.
The firm just uncovered what it claims is the largest digital ad fraud ring ever, “a complex scheme coordinated by Russian hackers that faked video ad views on falsified sites designed to trick advertisers into thinking they were buying from premium publishers including ESPN.com, CNN.com, Yahoo.com, and thousands of other domains.”
White Ops has dubbed the hacker group “methbot” and said the group generates as much as $5 million in fraudulent revenue every single day in the U.S.
That would make it both the biggest and most sophisticated fraud effort to date.
“Using an army of automated web browsers run from fraudulently acquired IP addresses, the methbot operation is ‘watching’ as many as 300 million video ads per day on falsified websites designed to look like premium publisher inventory,” White Ops analysts explained. “More than 6,000 premium domains were targeted and spoofed, enabling the operation to attract millions in real advertising dollars.”
First glimpses of the fraud were flagged in September; by October, the bot was creating as many as 137 million impressions, according to White Ops.
“Word of the hack immediately led to concern that it would crimp the growth of digital ad spending,” reported eMarketer. “If the volume of faked video were to run for a full year at $5 million per day, that would be the equivalent of roughly $1.8 billion a year—that’s more than 15 percent of the $10.3 billion eMarketer estimates that advertisers will spend on digital video advertising in the U.S. in 2016.”
That’s not just big. It’s HUGE.
To learn more about the report and its alarming findings, click here.