India implicated in one of the ‘largest ever’ bot farms to hit digital advertising

Adtech firm Adform is claiming to have found one of the world’s largest bot fraud farms, in which more than a million fake traffic requests came from India.

In a report released yesterday, the Denmark-based firm claimed the network, which it has named HyphBot, generated nearly two billion fraudulent requests on 34,000 different domains, including premium publishers, and more than a million different websites.

While the majority of the fraudulent traffic came from the United States and the United Kingdom – 1,8 billion and 6 million requests respectively – India was also cited as a major contributor, generating 1,018,100 requests in a period of two months.

Known as “domain spoofing”, the network works by convincing advertisers to buy ad space on fake domains disguised as premium publishers, before filling the sites with fake – or “bot” – traffic. In this latest case, the farm sent 1.6 billion requests to video inventory – which have higher CPMs.

Adform said the network was particularly notable for its effect on premium publishers rather than just a site’s long tail. According to the below table, the fraudulent activity amounted to almost $1.5m in header bidding spend.

However, Adform, which said it informed the majority of the 14 ad exchanges affected two days after discovering the farm, claimed the financial damage to clients on its own platforms amounted to less than $1,000 a month.

The firm added that the new network was four times larger than the recently-discovered Methbot, which saw Russian fraudsters making between US$3-to-5 million a day. 

At Mumbrella360 Asia recently, InMobi’s Jayesh Easwaramony said the marketing industry was generally “confused” about the issue of ad fraud. 

Speaking during the three-day conference, the company’s senior vice president and managing director of Asia Pacific said: “People who are doing ad fraud want to make money. It is an organised industry. Click farms, spoofing domains, creating malformed device IDs. It requires a lot of work and you need to be determined and stay on top of it.

“Bucketing fraud into one generic term is wrong. People mix up the whole thing. There are many parts to ad fraud and ad blocking won’t solve this either.”


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