Google engineers are focusing on invalid traffic being generated using clickjacking. Earlier this year Google identified the technique as an emerging threat to cost-per-click display ads and has developed measures to combat it using a combination of new policy, technology and hands-on operations actions.
Clickjacking (also known as UI Redress) is a type of web attack where the appearance of a website is changed so that a victim does not realise they are taking a different action than they think they are.
In relation to the Google Display Network, this means unwittingly clicking on one or more ads. For example, a user may intend to click on a video play button or menu item but instead clicks an invisible ad unit.
‘Invisible’ ads can be hidden in specific locations on pages such as in the example above. Another disturbing trend uses mouse tracking — it doesn’t matter where the user clicks, the invisible ad will be activated and lead to a page with lots of ads displayed.
In a recent blog post Google states “Our Clickjacking defences operate at considerable scale, analysing display ad placements across mobile and desktop platforms, evaluating a variety of characteristics. When our system detects a Clickjacking attempt, we zero-in on the traffic attributed to that placement, and remove it from upcoming payment reports to ensure that advertisers are not charged for those clicks.”
Why should you care?
Firstly, if you suspect you have been a victim of clickjacking make a note of the site you were on, the action you attempted to take and the site you were directed to. Let us know and we can notify the relevant Google representatives through our contacts.
If you are an advertiser using CPC display advertising, there is little you can do to know if you’ve been affected. But it’s reassuring to know that Google is taking these steps.
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Glenn is a Partner and Senior Consultant who has had a very successful career building growth companies in the private equity arena. He has a wealth of experience in both the digital space and strategy development. Prior to becoming a partner in SureFire Glenn built one of the largest digital teams in New Zealand for a NASDAQ listed global online marketing company & Google's largest premium partner.