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Bad bots poach over $6 billion from online advertisers

Ad security company White Ops has predicted another hard financial year for online advertisers. Last year on-line advertisers were estimated to have lost $5 billion, which was some way below the estimated $6.3 billion that White Ops had predicted in December of 2014.

However, that is of little consolation to online-advertisers, when the average loss per advertiser was $10 million, with the hardest hit taking a substantial financial blow of $42 million. These are staggering losses for the industry especially when we consider they are so profit orientated. The reason for their dismal performance is down to the army of botnets - a network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners' knowledge - deployed to vastly inflate the number of online clicks per advert.

Botnets are used to inflate the number of clicks and can make scammers a lot of money. In response, some major brands entered into a research project to try to evaluate the amount and effect of disruption caused by botnets during advertising campaigns. Brands such as Ford, McDonalds, Playstation and Unilever participated in the research.

The results were that around 9 per cent of clicks were through bots, with video ads being the favoured victims. White Ops, Chief executive officer Michael Tiffany says scammers that keep their bots fresh earn the highest revenue.

"Advertising fraud has the curious status of almost seeming legitimate — you couldn’t expect to get away with raiding a bank account or accessing someone else’s Gmail account, but defrauding advertisers, even by using the host user’s identifying cookies, doesn’t seem nearly as criminal,"