Ad Injection – A Serious Threat to Digital Marketing
You must be familiar with these types of alerts on your computer or smartphone screen. Looks like a genuine warning (may be from some well wisher). Well, before believing on such type of warning and clicking on them, you must ask yourself… how the third party know about the speed of your computer? If you do, your conscious will be awake and you realize that these are fraudulent ads. Upon clicking on these ads, you start downloading a software which could be a malware or virus.
In March, we outlined the problems with unwanted ad injectors, a common symptom of unwanted software. Ad injectors are programs that insert new ads, or replace existing ones, into the pages you visit while browsing the web. We’ve received more than 100,000 user complaints about them in Chrome since the beginning of 2015—more than any other issue. Unwanted ad injectors are not only annoying, they can pose serious security risks to users as well. Source : security.googleblog.com
Well, this statement was released last year by Kurt Thomas, Spam & Abuse Research dept. at Google.
That was just the beginning of the problem, but now this looks like an online epidemic. The one-year study by Google and NYU Tandon School of Engineering of affiliate networks running pay-per-install programs (PPI) found that nearly 60% of offers bundled with these programs are flagged as unwanted, and that in aggregate drove 60 million weekly download attempts with tens of millions of installs detected in the last year. Source : mediapost.com
After conducting a year long research, it was found that prime target of injectors are those who search for free games, torrents, anti-virus etc. It is easy to fool such kind of audience. Injectors basically place an ad which is otherwise not on the website or other computer even on the same network won’t be able to see it. This is highly dependent on user’s search behaviour.
At times it has been noticed that injectors hijack the adspaces, and use other tactics like marketing bundling with popular downloads. Advertisers even don’t realize that the their ad space has been displaced by an ad injection and their money is being wasted, which in turns affect their ROI. It not only affect their digital marketing campaign, later, it starts hampering their reputation as well.
On the other hand, publishers are a big victim of it who are losing all the exposure of the ads they are paying for. Instead these injectors are stealing all the exposure. So both advertiser and publishers are big time sufferers of it. So, who’s left? The Consumer. Of course, consumers are exposed to malicious software with these injectors; they are also facing a poor digital experience.
We can see that people at Google are working hard to curb this menace. Since, it is browser related problems, there are a few tools made available by Google to clean the mess. They have removed many chrome extensions which potentially could harm the user. Also, their ‘safe browsing’ warning alert the user to think twice before downloading something malicious.
For the advertisers, they release alerts if there are any deceptive activities. Also, google has updated their Adwords policies which is making difficult for the people to promote unwanted software.
This fight against the injectors has just begun. We, as consumer should also proactively participate in this help fighting against ad injectors.