Buzzfeed News recently released an exposé on “zombie websites”, the latest example of a malicious entity taking advantage of unsuspecting programmatic buyers. The article highlights how some of the world’s biggest brands were exploited in this latest fraud scheme, and illustrates how a few seemingly-credible suppliers can take part in, and even profit from, fraudulent activities. Fortunately, dataxu customers were protected from this attack, which was identified and blocked by our comprehensive fraud prevention technologies.
What are “Zombie Websites”
The term “zombie websites” refers to a group of approximately 40 sites that generated a high volume of fraudulent views of video ads. These properties generated ad views without human action, and it was unlikely that they could attract interest from a real audience due to their poor content and structure, thus the term “zombie.”
Pixalate, a fraud prevention and detection company, found that the sites involved in the scheme used special code to automatically redirect traffic between various zombie sites to increase the number of “views” while simultaneously avoiding detection. Pixalate estimates that “a sustained attack would net the fraudsters over $2 million per year.”
dataxu vs. Zombies
dataxu has long employed multiple layers of fraud filtering to create a defense-in-depth approach. This comprehensive coverage ensures that our customers’ ads are delivered in safe and fraud-free environments.
After investigating our exposure to the Zombie Website scheme, we’ve determined that our filters held strong and minimized exposure to Zombie Websites. Collectively, all advertisers running through TouchPointTM spent less than $150 on these websites per day. We’ve also taken further action to completely block the sellers representing the traffic from these websites, as well as other sites with similar behaviors, to further reduce our exposure to this fraudulent operation.
Continuing the fight
Here at dataxu, we take the success of our customers seriously. This includes ensuring that our customers’ investments are protected. We are extremely diligent in how we approach impression quality and combat threats like Zombie Websites. It has been, and will continue to be, one of our top priorities. While we continue to work closely with industry partners to create a more trustworthy and transparent supply chain for all, we are dedicated to curating the highest quality supply chain in programmatic to help our customers succeed.