Publishers play dumb after buying traffic

Ozy was paid to run sponsored stories for clients such as JPMorgan. Ozy, among many others, bought traffic to run up the page view counter, making them appear successful and exposing sponsors' branding to "millions" of "readers". Now the nature of that traffic has been exposed and excuses are being made.

The incident is the latest glimpse at the roots of a crisis of trust in online publishing. Blue-chip advertisers increasingly doubt whether their online ad spending reaches real audiences, and JPMorgan in particular has taken steps to ensure its ads only appear on quality sites. But even quality sites present risks.

Working in collaboration with ad-fraud consultancy Social Puncher, BuzzFeed News identified several other reputable publishers who also received the same invalid traffic during a similar timeframe as Ozy. They include Funny or Die, a video comedy site founded by actor Will Ferrell and several Hollywood producers; Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., a publisher of local newspapers in more than 20 states, which receives the traffic as part of a deal with video company Tout; Bustle Digital Group, a fast-growing digital publisher focused on young women; and PCMag, the venerable computing publication. All except CNHI say they have stopped using the traffic in question.

The charitable view, which casts publishers as desperate rather than fraudulent, is that they think human beings were paid to visit the sites. Even then, this is as legit as chaining a dog to a TV set because someone told you Nielsen boxes are motion-activated. Buzzfeed reports that it's all bots anyway. Read the rest

Methbot: a $3M-$5M/day video ad-tech fraud

White Ops, a security firm, has published a detailed report on a crime-ring they call "Methbot" that generated $3M-$5M by creating 6,000 fake websites to embed videos in, then generating convincing bots that that appeared to watch 300,000,000 videos/day -- running virtual instances of various browsers (mostly Chrome) on virtual machines running MacOS X, from a huge pool of IP addresses that they fraudulently had assigned to US locations, deploying clever grace-notes like limiting access to "daylight" hours in their notional locations; simulating mouse-movements and clicks and more. Read the rest

Using clickfraud on Google ads to amass shares of Google

Google Will Eat Itself (GWEI) is an art/economics project/prank/criminal enterprise that uses a network of hidden sites that register fraudulent clicks on Google Ads. The revenue from these ads is used to buy shares of Google. At the present rate, the organizers estimate that they will own all of Google in about 200,000 years. They pledge to then turn the company over to the public.

We generate money by serving Google text advertisments on a network of hidden Websites. With this money we automatically buy Google shares. We buy Google via their own advertisment! Google eats itself - but in the end "we" own it!

By establishing this autocannibalistic model we deconstruct the new global advertisment mechanisms by rendering them into a surreal click-based economic model.

After this process we hand over the common ownership of "our" Google Shares to the GTTP Ltd. [Google To The People Public Company] which distributes them back to the users (clickers) / public.

GWEI

(via Reddit) Read the rest