Newsflash: Ruskies bilking U.S. advertisers out of millions
Scam involves using automated browsers to generate impressions
December 21, 2016
The election apparently isn’t the only thing the Russians are meddling with.
A ring of cybercriminals from Russia is ripping off some $3 million to $5 million each day from premium video sites, according to a new report from White Ops.
The anti-fraud firm says that the ring has been using automated web browsers, forming them into a bot farm called Methbot to siphon the money from advertisers.
The complex operation goes something like this.
First, the ring acquired more than 600,000 IP addresses, apparently by hacking regional internet registries. It matched those to legit service providers such as Verizon and Comcast to make them appear to be regular internet users.
Disguised, these bots generated hundreds of millions of video ad impressions daily.
Those impressions were generated on counterfeited sites the Russians set up to look like legitimate ones, such as ESPN, Huffington Post, Fortune, CBS Sports, Vogue, The Economist and Fox News, just to name a few.
Advertisers thought they were buying impressions on the real sites. What they actually got were the bogus impressions generated by the fake users on the facsimile sites.
So, in essence, advertisers paid for impressions that don’t mean a thing, because they were not seen by real people.
White Ops estimates that the scam has cost advertisers millions daily and say it included more than 6,000 sites.
An expansive operation
As of earlier this month, the Russians were still doing this. White Ops stumbled upon the scam in September of last year, when it noted the mutation of a bot designed to create the ad impressions. It’s not clear how long the scam has been going on, but it’s been at it over a year and traffic exploded in October.
White Ops dubs it the most sophisticated ad fraud scheme ever perpetrated. It released the information about it because the fraud is so pervasive, affecting so many sites and using so many layers of deception.
The fake IP addresses were even coded to demonstrate mouse movements and social media participation in the hopes of avoiding detection.
After nearly 18 years, it’s time to say good-bye
Yet more evidence native advertising doesn’t work
A new type of cord-cutting: Snipping broadband
Coming, the collapse of radio’s iHeartMedia
Weeklies: Surviving if not thriving in digital age
Tweeter in chief: How Trump could save Twitter
Shows Trump hates are seeing big ad gains
Broadcast vs. cable: How the top shows stack up
A sign that coughs at your cigarette smoke
The word: Time Inc. sale is imminent
Rundown: Which advertisers have jumped from YouTube
Media Life’s Digital Media Transparency Initiative
HBO does hard time with Dwayne Johnson
- Arun Kumar becomes chief data and marketing tech officer at IPG
- Jenny Campbell rises to managing director at 72andSunny
- Adam Crandall becomes director of strategy at mono
- Mark Wildman rises to EVP of partnerships at Westwood One
- Kevin Craig rises to SVP of newspaper relations at AMG/Parade
- Bill Corvalan becomes VP of West Coast partnerships at AllOver Media
- Richard Just becomes editor at The Washington Post Magazine
- Gemma Lawson rises to VP and design director at Nickelodeon
- Ashley Judd joins Epix' 'Berlin Station'
- Former NBC ad sales executive Robert Blackmore dies at age 90
This week’s broadcast ratings
This week’s cable ratings
This week’s top-rated movies, songs and books
This week’s daypart ratings
This month’s digital traffic data: December 2016
Ad sales rep for a digital-only magazine
Freelance media planner/buyer available for all markets
Wanted: Media buyer in Philadelphia
Paid social media planner wanted in Detroit
Opening for a media planner at a top OOH agency