In 2016 the internet security researchers WhiteOps published a report on a new ad fraud ring they had discovered dubbed “Methbot”. After carefully analysing the statistics and numbers, it was clear that this was the biggest ad fraud network ever discovered. With millions of estimated fraudulent profits a day, this fraud ring was the biggest ever seen.
After studying and researching the ad ring for several months, they found lots of new data and information they had never seen before. Not only did this make it the biggest fraud ring discovered, but also the most important. The whole discovery of this fraud ring has allowed researchers to look at new techniques and strategies fraud rings are using to scam advertisers.
To show you why Methbot is such an important discovery, we’re looking at how its discovery has helped change the advertising industry for the better. From helping ad networks and advertisers saving money, to improving research techniques, here’s why Methbot is one of the biggest ad fraud discoveries.
The Discovery Gave Researchers Lots of Useful Data
When WhiteOps first discovered Methbot, they spent months and months collecting as much data as possible. This data included things such as thousands of domain names, IP addresses and countless logs.
To many people this might just sound like a long list of data, but there is actually lots of value in it. This data can be used by researchers to study the fraud ring in more detail and can be used as a reference when trying to discover new fraud rings. By comparing IP addresses, locations and websites, WhiteOps and researchers can track Methbots every new move. Without this data, how would they know if the network is shrinking or expanding? By collecting as much data as possible, this can be used for a variety of uses in the future, including being used as evidence if anyone ever gets prosecuted.
It Helped Researchers Understand How Fraud Rings Are Constructed
Although this might not be the first fraud ring ever discovered, Methbot is undoubtedly the most interesting. Unlike other fraud rings in the past, Methbot is very unique in how it’s constructed. Instead of using hacked computers infected with viruses and malware (known as botnets) to view ads, Methbot uses an entirely different approach.
This new approach has never been seen before and helped researchers open their eyes to how criminals operate. It also gives them lots of information about how these large-scale fraud rings are created and what they should be looking out for in the future.
To explain their new technique briefly, the gang behind Methbot managed to acquire more than 852,000 real IP addresses from premium companies. This meant that all their ad views appeared to come from legitimate residential users instead of a botnet or datacenter. The reason this has never been seen before is mainly due to its price. Those 852,000 IP addresses are worth an estimated $4 million alone. This just goes to show how big and sophisticated this fraud ring really is.
It Allowed Networks to Fight Back
Discovering the biggest fraud ring ever might sound good in the press, but how exactly do you save advertisers and networks money? Luckily, because WhiteOps collected enough data throughout the months they spent studying it, they found a way to reduce its impact.
As we mentioned previously, the researchers collected thousands of domain names, IP addresses, and logs for their reference. However, unlike other companies, they didn’t keep all that data to themselves. WhiteOps provided all of their research for free to networks and advertisers. This meant that networks could take those 852,000 identified fraudulent IP addresses and block them on their network.
Not only did all of this help reduce the level of fraud on various networks, but it also helped advertisers save money.
It Saved Advertisers Millions of Dollars
The knock on effect of blocking these IPs on several ad networks is that advertisers didn’t lose as much money to fraud. Initially, when Methbot was first discovered it was estimated that it brought it $3-5 million dollars a day. This was due to the 200 – 400 million fraudulent views they were generating using their fake IPs.
After the data about Methbot was released, the amount of money lost to fraud was reduced substantially. Not only has it allowed networks to fight back against the fraud group, but it has also allowed advertisers to reevaluate their ad strategies. Some companies stopped running video ads altogether and opted for pay per click ads instead. Whereas others continues to run video ads but lowered their budget. Overall, thanks to the discovery of Methbot, thousands of advertisers are much better off financially.
Want To Protect Yourself From the Next Fraud Ring?
Unfortunately, in this day and age, new fraud rings are popping up regularly. Armed with new techniques and technology, these fraudsters are becoming harder and harder to detect. As it takes several months to collect enough data on a fraud ring, by the time it’s been discovered it’s usually too late. You could have lost thousands or more to ad fraud without even knowing.
To make sure you’re not the victim of any ad fraud, you need to always be prepared for the next attack.
PPC Protect is the only ad fraud detection software that can automatically detect fraudulent IP’s. Other services rely solely on a list, which by the time it gets updated it’s already too late. PPC Protect continually monitors your ads and blocks any fraudulent IPs that it deems suspicious. This means you can let your ads run knowing you won’t wake up to the victim of ad fraud.
To see how much PPC Protect can save you and your business, try out our free 30-day trial below.