Bootleg Manga Sites Also Steal From Advertisers. A Cautionary Tale.

The arrest of the operator behind the popular bootleg site “Mangamura” (Manga Village), a site which uploaded popular manga (Japanese comic books) without the permission of publishers, is still fresh in the minds of many people in Japan and around the world. The total estimated damage to manga publishers was concluded to be about $3 billion USD. The operator was able to gain enormous profits through advertising revenues; with a portion of those earnings via digital ad fraud. Let’s untangle the ways that fraud makes money off of advertising by explaining exactly what “Ad Fraud” is.
Ad fraud is a type of scam on the internet in which cybercriminals steal money from advertisers and legitimate publishers. It’s also been recognized as one of the fastest-growing revenue sources for organized crime around the world. Let’s take a look at some of the ad fraud techniques sites like this are using.

Domain Spoofing

Operators who run malicious sites such as adult-themed sites and sites with illegal content, get ads by using faked or “spoofed” domain names to fool advertisers into thinking that a site is safe. By doing this, advertisers unknowingly trust these sites and advertise on them – turning these sites into revenue streams via fraudulent means. These types of sophisticated methods ultimately lead ad networks, ad agencies, and advertisers to display ads on sites like “Mangamura” without their knowledge.

Pop-Under Ads

This type of ad appears automatically behind an existing window or tab whenever you access a certain web page. These types of ads are generally not effective since they are displayed when a user is unaware. These are similar to ad playback in the background of an app. Since there is no way to click these types of ads, they can become noise and become a disadvantage for those who create and analyze ad results.

Hidden Ads

In this type of fraud, the system detects that an ad is being displayed regardless if an ad is actually visible to the user. This is done by publishing an ad inside a 1×1 pixel window or displaying an ad behind other objects on the page so that the user can not actually see the ad. This kind of fraud has been known to swindle millions of dollars worth of ad fees. However, the arrest of the “Mangamura” operator was only for copyright infringement. Ad fraud currently exists in a legal grey area in many countries around the world. This makes it difficult to take legal action against fraudsters. Ad fraud is a very low-risk and profitable business for organized crime with no foreseeable risk of arrest. The reason they haven’t been arrested is because of the difficulty in collecting evidence, in addition to the lack of awareness or understanding about ad fraud. We think it’s important to educate yourself about ad fraud, and for advertisers to take measures against it in order to create a safer advertising industry and a safer world.
Now, in order to eradicate ad fraud, we at Phybbit have developed an AI-equipped ad fraud countermeasure tool called “SpiderAF” that is being used by a wide variety of companies. Please feel free to contact us for advice on measures against ad fraud.
We are also providing a free diagnosis to see whether or not your ads have been damaged by ad fraud. For additional information about this, please apply here. We publish the newest info about ad fraud on the SpiderAF blog. Follow us on Twitter to get the latest updates!