Google Acquires Spider.io To Take On Ad Fraudsters

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Google hopes the acquisition of Spider.io will improve its relationship with advertisers by spotting click fraud and advertising malware

Google is buying the London-based start-up Spider.io and adopting its technology to protect the digital marketing business – the main source of the company’s income.

“Our immediate priority is to include their fraud detection technology in our video and display ads products, where they will complement our existing efforts. Over the long term, our goal is to improve the metrics that advertisers and publishers use to determine the value of digital media and give all parties a clearer, cleaner picture of what campaigns and media are truly delivering strong results,” said Neal Mohan, VP of Display Advertising at Google.

Grow the pie

Online advertising fraud is as old as the Internet itself. Create an automatic system that pays money depending on a number of certain online interactions, and you are practically inviting bad actors to abuse it.

Maksim KabakouBut with the industry worth an estimated $116 billion (£69.7bn), fraud is becoming an increasingly expensive problem, taking as much as $10 billion from the advertising companies. “To grow the pie for everyone, we need to take head on the issue of online fraud,” explained Mohan.

Consisting of just seven employees, Spider.io has been fairly active on the fraud detection scene. According to the Financial Times, last year it discovered a type of malware that displayed additional, unauthorised advertising every time a user accessed YouTube videos. The responsible party was later blocked from using Google’s monetization tools.

Spider.io has also exposed malware scams such as the Chamelon click-fraud botnet, which generate fake advertising clicks. Google hopes to use the acquisition to improve detection of such methods in its display and video advertising products.

“As an industry, we can address this issue and block those who seek to game the system. We can make digital the platform of choice for all marketers — including brands — to invest. And we can offer accountable media for all; we’re excited to take this big next step,” said Mohan.

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