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1.1 Billion Trojan Ads

Inappropriate ads could cost the in-app ad industry billions of dollars in fines but until recently it was impossible to detect them. Pubguard, with its industry-leading in-app ad verification technology, estimates that 1.1 billion instances of sell-side ad-fraud are being served to the most vulnerable people in our society each year.

The majority of these 1.1 billion ads are subject to COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act – US) and other compliances which are in place to stop inappropriate content from being shown to sensitive demographics and can carry up to a $40K fine for violations. A portion of the ads that Pubguard catches are illegal phishing or malware scams however all of them will at least irritate the user that is subjected to them.

Pubguard has developed proprietary technology that reviews every advert seen by every user across their client’s apps, to help them identify and remove inappropriate content. On average Pubguard sees 1 in every 5 thousand ads is a “Trojan Ad”, these ads are designed to fool the creative review process by initially appearing as brand safe content, as soon as the Trojan Ad knows that it is running on a real device it can change into a malicious ad. The majority of the Trojan Ads show the user pop-ups or redirect them out of the app and then subject the users to porn and phishing scams indiscriminately.


Above is an example of 1 trojan ad which had 8 dynamically served ads within it.

Morally, legally and commercially this type of practice needs to be cut out of the industry. These ads irritate everyone, offend the majority and try to manipulate susceptible members of our society. The problem has come about because the fraudsters are constantly innovating but Pubguard has made a quantum leap in its approach to stop every Trojan Ad.

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Justin Wenczka

A mobile advertising expert who specialises in performance marketing and insights.