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How We Are Preventing Malicious Ads on Behalf of Our Clients

Published

You may have recently heard some news about malicious ads appearing on publishers websites, sold by agents posing as ad buyers on behalf of legitimate brands. We wanted to take a minute to explain what’s going on with this situation, and to inform our clients and publishing partners about how we purchase media at space150.

What happened?

In case you haven’t heard, agents posing as legitimate media buying agencies were able to purchase online display advertising through ad networks and place malicious ads on publisher sites. The ads initially served as advertising for legitimate brands, but then spawned a window with a virus warning that then offered antivirus software to fix the problem. Needless to say, the antivirus software offered would be relatively ineffective in combating most viruses.

How did this happen?

With a standard banner campaign, there are several “hand-offs” that occur between the brand, the agency, and publishing partners prior to ads landing on consumers’ computer screens.

Agencies typically utilize a third-party ad serving partner (space150 partners with companies like DoubleClick & PointRoll). Publishers and networks usually perform a round of testing to ensure the ad tags are serving properly and as designed. In this case, it appears that rounds of testing did not detect that this was, in fact, a malicious ad.

The agents were also able to procure contracts for these ads outside typical processes. Many agencies will use a third-party management system for insertion orders and RFPs (space150 utilizes MediaVisor), adding an additional layer of control for agencies and publishers alike. These tools also aid in the standardization of contracts as well as the agency/publisher communication flow.

How do we stop this?

space150 is committed to ensuring the security of our clients’ brands, and we want to disclose our ad-serving process and relationships so that publishers and ad-networks can raise a red flag if they receive any insertion orders that don’t meet our specific guidelines. Our strategy is as follows:

-All of our space150’s banner ads are trafficked through trusted third-party ad serving partners such as DoubleClick & PointRoll.

-All of our insertion orders are generated using MediaVisor. If our relationships with these parties change at some point, we’ll contact our media partners and also post the update to space150.com.

If publishers or ad networks receive insertion orders from space150 that are not generated in MediaVisor and/or ad tags not trafficked through DoubleClick or PointRoll, please contact Nicole Newville immediately at: 612-460-2815.

*Photo credit: m.a.r.c. on Flickr.