PPV Networks Cost $180M in FraudWritten by Michael Levanduski
August 18, 2013 # 9:54 pm # Industry News, Legal Challenges, Specials # 19 Comments
Pay-Per-View ad networks have long been known to provide marketers with huge amounts of traffic without costing much. Of course, the down side is that the quality of traffic is extremely low. The visitors are being paid for each page they view, so they aren’t going to be motivated to spend any real time on the page, or sign up for any offers. That being said, however, there are certain times when simply playing the numbers can pay off. According to a new study, however, marketers purchasing pay-per-view traffic aren’t even getting the low quality traffic they are paying for.
The study, performed by MdotLabs, created a ‘honey pot’ site for use with their testing. They then purchased 25,000 page views from each of five different PPV companies. The results were quite disturbing, and will undoubtedly cause quite a shakeup in the marketing world in the weeks to come. Dr. Paul Barford, MdotLabs’ Chief Scientist and co-founder said this of the study:
We conservatively estimate the number of invalid impressions that are generated from PPV networks to be on the order of 500 million per day. Assuming the modest quality level for sites that are part of PPV networks, we estimate the cost to advertisers for this fraudulent traffic to be on the order of $180 million annually
The report details how these PPV companies are defrauding their customers, as well as how MdotLabs was able to discover exactly what it was that was going on. Essentially, when individuals who are part of the PPV network are loading up, and viewing the ads, there are also pop-under ads generated for different companies. This alone would be a questionable, but it gets worse.
The pop-under page doesn’t just display an extra advertisement, which might get viewed by the user when they eventually find the window. It actually uses frames to display ten or more different pages within the one pop-under ad! But wait, it gets even worse! The networks have the pop-under advertisements in windows which are actually 0 pixels wide or 0 pixels tall. This means that it is physically impossible for the users to ever see these advertisements! The icing on this fraudulent cake is that these pop-under ads then load new advertisements in each frame every 15 seconds.
This is why the study also found that the traffic generated from the PPV networks appeared entirely unnatural. For one network, nearly 100% of the traffic came in the first ten minutes of each hour. Other networks distributed the traffic almost evenly throughout the day, which is unnatural because there are typically ebbs and flows of traffic based on the fact that people work, sleep and do other activities.
While nobody ever expected high-quality, targeted visitors from their PPV marketing money, they did hope for some value. It seems the PPV industry is even more corrupt than most people ever imagined. Further studies have been promised by MdotLabs, with bigger budgets for additional networks. The big question here, in my mind, is what will be done to these PPV ad networks? Is there any chance for legal action by the marketers who were defrauded?
Have you ever used a PPV ad network? If so, share your experience with us below!
You can see the full study results HERE.