One of the many ad fraud tricks that the industry continues to battle is hidden ads. With a self explanatory name, hidden ads are those placed on a webpage in a manner that they will never be viewable. Usually, but not always, perpetuated through the use of iframes, hidden video ads can be carried out through the use of:
- Stacked ads, where multiple ads are layered on top of each other in a single ad placement, commonly referred to as “nesting.”
- Ads clipped by iframes, making the video ad impossible to view.
- Zero opacity ads that use an iframe with the opacity set to zero, making it non-viewable.
- 1×1 pixel iframes that host ads where the visible portion is so small they are not viewable.
Adding complexity to the issue, these strategies aren’t always used in isolation. By deploying a variety of creative tactics and then hiding behind bogus domain registrations, masking their digital tracks and working out of hard-to-trace regions, perpetrators can be extremely difficult to catch. While botnet fraud is most prevalent because it scales well and captures high-value ad spend, fraudsters will often create real human traffic using click farms (hoards of low-paid workers rapidly clicking on ads). With their browsers sufficiently stuffed, fraudsters clone those human cookies and use bots to scale their operations.
While many fraudsters will go to the end of the earth to evade detection and protect their revenue streams, SpotX uses a mix of sophisticated proprietary technology and partnerships with leading fraud detection vendors like DoubleVerify to actively combat the issue. Hidden ads are one of the most common reasons that DoubleVerify will classify a domain as a fraudulent site and our deep integration with them ensures we identify and block hidden ad placements from our marketplace.
It’s of paramount importance after all. Every media dollar wasted on fraudulent impressions directly influences the revenue of legitimate publishers with unsold or under-monetized inventory; not to mention the marketers throwing their budgets down bot sinkholes. As a part of our quality and transparency mission, we continually make investments to stay in front of fraud to ensure we maintain a clean marketplace and money flowing to quality inventory. By deploying leading technology and providing actionable insights to our publishers and advertisers, they’re better equipped to manage inventory and spend effectively.
Read more from our fraud series:
- Q&A with zvelo, the Market Leader for Ad Fraud Prevention
- How Toolbar Injections Help Perpetuate Ad Fraud
- Domain Spoofing – What It Is and What You Can Do About It
- Botnets & Hijacked Devices in Ad Fraud
Leah Brite, Senior Manager, Product Marketing