​Google applies DoubleClick filter to sideline ad injector business

  • Liam Tung (CSO Online)
  • 11 September, 2015 09:09

Google’s latest weapon in its war on ad injectors is to block advertisers from buying impressions the unwanted software generates.

Ad injectors remain a persistent problem for Google, publishers, advertisers and browser users. Since the beginning of the year, Google says it’s received 300,000 user complaints about ad injectors in Chrome and now the company is tackling the problem by attempting to make ad injectors less lucrative.

Ad injectors often surreptitiously piggy back on browsers and insert new ads or swap out ads on pages visited by users, causing wasted spending by advertisers and lost income for publishers.

Ad injectors are separate to the arguably more serious problem for end users known as ‘malvertising’, where attackers buy inventory through ad exchanges to serve malicious ads on popular sites that attempt to redirect visitors to web-based exploits.

Google is tackling the first of these with its automated ad buying platform DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM), which now filters out ad injector inventory to prevents advertisers from having the chance to buy it.

DBM allows advertisers to program in ad purchases on multiple ad exchanges, including DoubleClick Ad Exchange, and provides advertisers access to over 37 billion daily impressions.

Google says the filter currently blacklists 1.4 percent of inventory access through the platform.

But the company noted there’s a wide variance in the percentage of injected ads that appear on different ad exchanges, ranging from over 15 percent to nearly none. So, although Google is a large player in the online ad industry, solving the problem will require industry wide action.

To size up the problem, Google has previously revealed that 5.5 percent of people visiting Google sites were using browsers that injected ads. It’s also identified over 34,000 ad injectors of which around a third posed security or privacy risks, ranging from credential theft to user tracking. Or, as was the case in Lenovo’s Superfish debacle, ad injectors can introduce additional security risks.

The company’s other efforts include using its Safe Browsing database to tackle unwanted software and tightening rules in its Chrome Web Store, which don’t ban injectors but attempts to regulate deceptive methods that trick Chrome users into installing injectors.

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