A large number of websites depend on revenues received via banner ads, and sites get even more money when its visitors click on an ad banner. However, in recent years, web advertisers have had to deal with "click-spam" scams, where ad banners seem to be targeted. In many cases, the click-throughs have no real interest in seeing the website behind the ad and just want to generate more revenue from the ad banner.
This issue can cost web advertisers millions of dollars without any real benefit to them. Now three researchers have come up with a new way to measure web ad traffic, including those that are a part of a "click-spam" scam.
In a post on the Inside Microsoft Research page, the company talks about the paper, "Measuring and Fingerprinting Click-Spam in Ad Networks." Two of the three people who worked on the paper, Vacha Dave and Saikat Guha, have also worked at Microsoft Research India. Microsoft says that the paper "provides the first independent methodology for advertisers to measure click-spam on their ads—and delivers an automated method for ad networks to detect simultaneous click-spam attacks proactively."
The paper also shows what the researches claim are the poor quality of banner ads made for mobile devices. Guha says, "For a reputed ad network, only one out of 20 people clicking our ad stayed for longer than five seconds. We suspect this is because people mis-clicked the ad due to the small mobile-screen sizes and quickly hit the back button."