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BizReport : Advertising : June 06, 2011

Adometry: New ad hijacking scheme on the rise

Online video, display and search advertisers, be on the lookout. There is a new hijacking scheme out there and experts from Adometry say it is catching many users unawares. The scheme targets online video, search and display using malware and infections to create a network of 'hijacked' computers to commit advertising fraud.

by Kristina Knight

adometry.pngAdometry has been tracking the scheme since November 2010. To work, consumers must download malware through a fake anti-virus program. The malware then injects into that computer's rootkit when an ad is viewed or a website visited. It can then perform different kinds of ad fraud including impression inflating, video ad fraud and search hijacking. They say it is effecting advertisers, ad networks and publishers.

"This is the first attack we've seen that coordinates advertising fraud across many different online ad channels," said Paul Pellman, Adometry CEO. Adometry believes that thousands of computers are infected with the scheme because of the number of their lab machines which became infected. Those infected computers are generating millions of invalid clicks and impressions each month.

For display, the fraud program 'hides' its malware from users and then directs the computer browser to publisher pages showing display ads to generate false impressions. For video, the program hijacks organic search and redirects computer browsers to web pages hosting a video ad; the advertisers are then charged for impressions.

For search, the program works in two ways. First, it redirects computer browsers from organic search queries; consumers may wind up on websites they didn't want to visit and tallying up more ad impressions which are then charged to advertisers. The second way is to reroute consumers through several arbitrage hubs before they reach the website they wanted to visit. Those arbitraged sites then charge advertisers for an audience they otherwise would have had for free. The virus may also instruct the computer to auto-click on certain ads.

Tags: Adometry, advertising fraud, click fraud, display advertising, search advertising, video advertising

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