New hidden video ad fraud is draining the battery, using data of Android users: Report

By Digit NewsDesk | Published on Mar 23 2019
New hidden video ad fraud is draining the battery, using data of Android users: Report

A new video ad fraud runs video ads hidden behind in-app banner ads. This not only uses excess battery and data, but the companies behind the ads end up playing for something no one saw.

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A new type of advertisement scam may be responsible for your phone suddenly losing battery life and using too much data. According to a Buzzfeed report, certain in-app banner ads in Android apps have been running hidden video ads behind them. This form of ‘ad stacking’ manages to generate additional revenue for fraudsters, but at a cost of battery life and data. 

The report notes that the fraud was discovered by two labs, Protected Media and Double Verify. Malicious individuals purchase small banner ad space, which doesn’t cost much. However, in the background is an auto playing advertisement video that is hidden. Since the video is played, it is counted as a view and generates revenue. However, no one actually sees the ad, so the company behind the video gets no exposure in return. Consumers also unknowingly lose battery and data for playing the video. 

“Fraudsters are purchasing cheap in-app display inventory and are filling it with multiple video players behind innocuous fake branded display ads,” said Asaf Greiner, the CEO of Protected Media.

The report adds that these type of ad fraud is not new. However Grenier’s team is said to have identified a new version of it last fall and claim that in total, they have seen tens of millions of dollars worth of ads running per month. DoubleVerify pegs the number at 60 million fraudulent video ads per month. 

As per the report, Protected Media also found a large portion of the banner ads purchased for this scheme was done so using MoPub. A mobile ad network owned by Twitter. However, Buzzfeed’s report notes that this does not mean that MoPub was engaged in the scheme, but rather its platform was exploited.

One of the companies implicated in the scheme is an Israeli company called Aniview, which runs a video ad technology platform. However, the company has denied any involvement and claims that the banner ads and code (which they say are created by one of its subsidiaries) as exploited by a malicious third party.

Aniview CEO, Alon Carmel said in an emailed statement. “We notified and emphasized our clients that the use of our platform must be according to our policy and the IAB and TAG guidelines.”


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