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Impression Fraud Could Be Costly for Pay-Per-View Advertisers

Per-pay-view advertising is becoming an increasingly common tactic used by a wide variety of companies in their advertising campaigns. However, PPV does involve its share of issues and challenges. One serious—and potentially very costly—issue is the risk of impression fraud.

The MarketingLand article How Pay-Per-View Networks Cost Advertisers $180 Million A Year In Impression Fraud says a large percentage of the top 100 online advertisers are being victimized by PPV networks that perpetrate impression fraud, according to a new study conducted by MdotLabs, an ad secure platform recently spun off from Broadcast Interactive Media.

“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,” says Dr. Paul Barford, MdotLabs Chief Scientist and co-founder.

The article notes: “The more traffic ad networks and publishers can drive, the more revenue they can generate from ad impressions on display and video ads. The sales pitch from most PPV traffic generation services is that they drive real user traffic, without using ‘black hat techniques,’ to publishers’ sites. However, that’s not what MdotLabs found. PPV networks pay legitimate publishers to add what looks like a standard ad tag to their sites. When users go to the publisher’s site, the tag triggers other publisher sites to display in a way that’s invisible to users — typically via pop-unders. The other publishers receive ad impressions and sometime even clicks from the camouflaged pages without users’ knowledge. Advertisers end up paying for ad impressions are never seen by — and more often invisible — users.”

The complete study report provides other interesting insights, along with screenshots of the traffic patterns MdotLabs observed when running an experimental campaign through several PPV networks. The authors say they plan to conduct more tests with higher volume purchases in future work.

Need assistance with your next PPV campaign? Find out how KEO Marketing can help.


With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.