Does YouTube Profit From Ad Fraud?
Robert Cookson, Digital Media Correspondent reported (gated) in the Financial Times (Sept. 22, 2015) that, “Google has been charging marketers for advertisements it places on YouTube even when the video platform’s fraud-detection systems identify that a “viewer” is a robot rather than a human being.”
Cookson’s reportage is sourced from on a research paper published July 31, 2015 by a group of seven European researchers. Their key finding when looking at several different video portals was paraphrased by Cookson, “Google’s core advertising engine charged the researchers for the bot visits even though YouTube was clearly able to identify them as fake.”
Research suggests YouTube Profits from Known Fake Views
The research concludes, “In summary, we conclude that YouTube uses a seemingly permissive detection mechanism to discount fake monetized views. This exposes advertisers to… burden the risk of fraud. [While] Conversely, the public view counter is much more discriminative, demonstrating that YouTube has effective means to identify fake views.”
The channel/network that receives the fake views is also penalized, “YouTube severely penalizes the uploader of the video by suspending her Adsense account, preventing the uploader from monetizing any of the videos associated to the suspended account…” even when some of them were legitimate.
Cookson noted that Google desired to contact the researchers. “Google said it would contact them to discuss the findings. It said it took ‘invalid traffic very seriously’ and that it had invested significantly in the technology and staff that ‘keep this out of our systems. The vast majority of invalid traffic is filtered from our systems before advertisers are ever charged.’ ”
Miriam Marciel NEC Labs Europe miriam.marciel @neclab.eu
Ruben Cuevas Universidad Carlos III de Madrid rcuevas @it.uc3m.es
Albert Banchs IMDEA Networks Institute Universidad Carlos III de Madrid albert.banchs @imdea.org
Roberto Gonzalez NEC Labs Europe Roberto.Gonzalez @neclab.eu
Stefano Traverso Politecnico di Torino stefano.traverso @polito.it
Mohamed Ahmed NEC Labs Europe Mohamed.Ahmed @neclab.eu
Arturo Azcorra IMDEA Networks Institute Universidad Carlos III de Madrid arturo.azcorra @imdea.org