The inventory is auctioned with multiple advertisers responding with competing bids. The advertiser willing to pay the highest price gets to fill the ad space. The process is automated and instantaneous.
“It’s happening in under 20 milliseconds across billions of transactions a day,” Murphy said.
As these automated auctions take place, where do bots enter the equation?
It can begin from the consumer, said Steve Sullivan, vice president of ad technology for New York-based trade organization Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Cyberscammers will create a bot net, or a network of consumers’ computers infected with bad software. As a consumer visits a website, his or her computer is rigged to visit five other Web pages without the consumer’s knowledge. These visits create a commodity for bot nets, publishers and advertisers.
The cyberscammers, who can operate from anywhere in the world, will sell the fake impressions to publishers eager to have lots of traffic.
“Bot controllers do it in such a sophisticated way that utilizes real people’s computers that it makes it look like real traffic,” Sullivan said.
Solve Media, an internet ad and security firm in New York, estimates the global advertising industry is expected to waste up to $9.5 billion this year to bot traffic.
Sullivan said the key to combating the problem is through the exchanges because almost all publishers and advertisers buy and sell ads through an ad exchange.
“You can ask … millions of different parties to do their own filtration (of bot traffic) or you can ask the five exchanges to do filtration and to do it really well,” he said.
OpenX had long used a system to filter out publishers with so many ads that bot traffic was suspected. Adult entertainment and gambling websites are not allowed to enter the marketplace.
If an existing publisher is suspected of having bot traffic, OpenX will work to resolve the issue with it or kick it out of the exchange. The new system is a second layer of defense.
Mark Pearlstein, senior vice president of sales and marketing at DoubleVerify, said there are several types of Internet fraud and bot traffic makes up only one piece.
DoubleVerify, a third-party audience verification firm in New York, works in the digital advertising space and has been using real-time monitoring in all of its fraud detection services such as bot traffic, Pearlstein said.
“While I applaud OpenX, we have been using real time in this space for a long time and the industry as a whole is really moving towards a real-time model, as it should,” he said.