“Methbot” Exposes the Scale of Ad Delivery Fraud

Sophisticated botnet cost advertisers and publishers millions

Ad delivery fraud has been an under-the-radar scheme in programmatic advertising, but a new report by White Ops has exposed just how insidious this form of fraud has become.

The report revealed a massive bot farm, known within its code as “Methbot,” operating out of a sophisticated network of data centers. Unlike typical bots however, these bots were spoofing more than 6,000 domains to look like vogue.com, espn.com, and other premium domains that typically command $10+ CPMs for their video inventory. The operation has been so successful that the WhiteOps report estimates the hijackers are making $3 to $5 million in revenue per day.

To ensure quality placement, advertisers have increasingly turned to private marketplaces and Deal IDs, especially in video, seeking out premium, brand-name domains. But as the discovery of Methbot has revealed, turning to these marketplaces doesn’t protect advertisers from ad delivery fraud—and in fact, may make them more vulnerable to this high-cost fraud.

This kind of domain spoofing fraud also hurts publishers. By flooding the market with fake supply, Methbot-type botnets devalues the legitimate and finite inventory of premium publishers.

Solving this problem isn’t easy—and will take both publisher and advertiser buy-in to implement the security necessary to validate and verify ad delivery. Just like HTTPS has secured communication within a browser, making digital payments and other transactions more secure and instilling consumer confidence, digital advertising needs to turn to sophisticated security measures to prevent this and other types of fraud.

Passport by Rebel AI delivers a solution by leveraging  encryption and machine learning technologies to build a safer and more secure programmatic trading environment. As anyone who has seen the LUMAscape knows, the digital advertising ecosystem is complex, but Passport’s asymmetric encryption technology ensures that ad delivery is validated and secure no matter how many SSP, DSP, or other jumps an ad might take.

Programmatic trading is the future of digital advertising, but securing ad delivery and digital identity will be a vital part of restoring confidence in the longterm viability of the technology.

How Passport by Rebel AI Secures Ad Delivery

Ad is Tagged

Passport works by tagging an ad with its intended destinations (e.g. cnn.com) .

Works Through Any Programmatic Path

The ad can be delivered with a virtual direct connection, even as it travels through the complex advertising ecosystem.

Destination is Decrypted and Verified

When the ad displays on the correct domain, a verifying signal is sent back to Passport to decrypt the ad.