Online Ad Fraud May Be Problematic for Google and Microsoft Browsers

A recent report from FraudLogix claims that online ad fraud activity was found to be highest in certain Google and Microsoft web browsers.

The report states that nearly 50% of the total ad impressions served to Internet Explorer and 20.5% of ad impressions served to Google Chrome were to “non-human” or “bot” traffic.

FraudLogix reportedly studied 135 million individual online ad impressions for a one-week span in July of 2016, analyzed the browsers, and tracked the ads its technology determined were delivered to “non-human” traffic. In addition, it was noted that fraudsters are able to infect browsers with malware and force them to load specific pages in order to manipulate them for financial gain.

These statistics can spell trouble for advertisers, as they can easily be paying for online ads that are never actually seen by real humans. Since marketers in the U.S. are projected to spend nearly $24 billion on online display advertising this year alone, the outcome of this study could have a big impact on how budgets are structured and the effectiveness of online advertising.

Understandably, both Microsoft and Google have questioned the report’s findings, stating that it isn’t possible to accurately measure fraud at the browser level. The use of bots and malware can often produce “fake” traffic that cannot be attributed to a certain browser. Therefore, these findings may be wildly inaccurate.

In addition, the percentage of potential ad fraud may be highest for Google Chrome and Internet Explorer solely because of their widespread usage. Other browsers may also be vulnerable to online ad fraud, but simply aren’t used as often and are therefore not as attractive to fraudsters.

Other browsers studied included Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Microsoft Edge. Fewer than 5% of ad impressions delivered to these browsers were determined to be fraudulent by the report.

The most recent versions of Google Chrome have seemed to address these vulnerability issues, and the company has been seen to take steps to prevent instances of online ad fraud. Although one version of Microsoft Internet Explorer, 11.0, has been discontinued, it is still technically supported by the company and received the highest overall percentage of fake traffic in the study.

In order for marketers to continue to view online advertisements as a viable, attractive option, these vulnerabilities must be continued to be addressed and improved upon. Although the reach of online ads is potentially endless, companies need to be secure in the knowledge that these ads are being seen by real human beings and not bots.

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