You may not have heard of Kessler’s Flying Circus (KFC), because, since its high-flying days in 2007, the FBI has clipped its wings. But while it was airborne, KFC generated over $5 million in one 12-month period by exploiting a fraudulent technique known as “cookie stuffing”. Cookie stuffing is just one pernicious technique that is costing online advertisers billions, driving the industry to rely increasingly on outfits like Grey Cloak Tech, Inc. (OTC: GRCK), a developer of industry-leading click-fraud detection software, to stop fraudsters from putting their hands in the ad revenue cookie jar.
Online advertising fraud is a growing problem. In March, a CNBC (http://dtn.fm/m1IlU) report suggested ‘that ad fraud will cost brands $16.4 billion globally this year, and that nearly 20 percent of total digital ad spend was wasted in 2016.’ Cookie stuffing is one approach favored by scammers, since it is very easy to pull off.
An FBI press release (http://dtn.fm/Cn6Oh) revealed just how easy as it detailed the machinations of the KFC fraud. KFC set up websites that attracted traffic quickly; one offered an app that showed the physical location of visitors to a MySpace profile. Using that app and similar ones created by KFC on its websites would ‘stuff’ a cookie into the user’s browser. Surreptitiously, the cookie included KFC’s eBay Affiliate ID number. When the user subsequently visited eBay and conducted a “revenue action”, KFC would receive a commission, even though the user did not click on an eBay ad or link.
Cookies, of course, are legitimate text files stored in a user’s browser by a website that has been visited by the user. Originally meant to store status information such as name, home address, email address and telephone number, there is increasing concern that they are now being employed to track a host of other private areas, such as the sites visited by users.
Grey Cloak Tech’s detection software can stop cookie stuffing and other forms of digital advertising deceit such as impression fraud, URL masking and click fraud. Impression fraud occurs when an ad is recorded as having being seen when it has not been seen. One technique used by fraudsters to generate these fraudulent ad impressions is to put ads in tiny one-pixel-by-one-pixel windows, which, of course, no human eye can detect. A web page can have dozens of these, which means that every visitor to the page generates impressions for ads he cannot even see.
URL masking or domain masking means that visitors to a website are stealthily directed to another website. It can be used to fool buyers into thinking they’re buying premium inventory when they are instead getting low quality placements. It has also been used to trick advertisers into running ads on sites with illicit or stolen content, which tend to generate lots of traffic but little ad revenue.
As these nefarious practices continue to grow, Grey Cloak Tech’s detection software will become increasingly important. For example, its Fraudlytic™ cloud-based, secure platform will monitor internet traffic in real time, blocking malicious and false clicks, while allowing real consumers to view offers and buy. The company has deep roots in the online advertising industry and is committed to restoring data integrity to the digital marketing industry. Fred Covely, founder, president and chief technology officer, has been involved in all aspects of software product and company development for many years. William Bossung, director and co-founder, was a partner and co-founder with Covely in a previous successful software company.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.GreyCloakTech.com
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