Google acquires Spider.io to fight ad fraud

Spider.io helps advertisers spot billions of fake ad views generated by networks of hijacked devices

Google claimed it's ratcheting up the fight against fraud in online advertising, disclosing Friday that it has bought Spider.io, a London company specializing in ad fraud detection technology.

Google has been investing in ad fraud prevention for years, said Neal Mohan, Google's Display Advertising VP in a blog post on Friday. The company last year turned down millions of applications from sites looking to join its network because of suspected fraudulent activity, he said.

Now, Google will immediately include Spider.io's fraud detection technology in its video and display ads products to complement existing efforts, said Mohan.

Spider.io helps preventing display advertisers from being defrauded by networks of hijacked PCs, tablets and phones that generate billions of fake ad views, according to its website.

Currently there are two types of display advertising fraud being committed using hijacked Internet-enabled devices, according to Spider.io.

The first involves the attacker running fully automated browsers on the hijacked devices without the knowledge of the device owners. Those browsers visit ad-laden websites of the attacker's choosing and simulate mouse movements and ad clicks, Spider.io said.

The second type involves hijacking the browsing sessions of the device owners. That typically takes one of four forms, Spider.io said. The device owner's clicks could for instance be redirected to websites of the attacker's choosing, and the device owner may also be shown unexpected pop-up windows. Web pages may also be hidden in pop-under windows under the owners' active browser windows, and ads could be illegitimately injected into web pages ordinarily visited by the device owners.

The company's technology prevents hijacked PCs, tablets and phones from being used to defraud online advertisers by identifying the type of automated agent responsible for each individual ad request in real time, according to its website.

Google said it hopes its anti-fraud efforts will eventually improve the metrics that advertisers and publishers use to determine the value of digital media and give all parties a clearer picture of what campaigns and media are truly delivering strong results.

Details of the deal where not disclosed in the blog post. Google did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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