Online advertising has become a central part of our digital lives. Advertising publishers and platforms supply billions of ads every day. Ensuring that ads served are contextually accurate and brand safe for the target audience is critical to a safe and secure internet.

zvelo’s granular taxonomy supports nearly 500 topic-based, malicious, phishing, objectionable and sensitive categories for brand safety and contextual targeting applications. zvelo’s data is unmatched in quality and veracity to ensure a brand’s ads can safely be placed on pages with content aligned to the brand’s image, mission, and target audience.

Spam Web Page Detection – a New Approach

Web spam is the bombardment of mostly unsolicited advertising messages or links sent across a wide array of media, including social networking websites, instant messaging applications, online newsgroups or forums, mobile phones, and blogs. Web spam has even been found stuffed within the results pages of popular search engines like Google. While the majority of web spam is benign, certain campaigns are tied to particular types of web pages disguised to contain valuable information. In actuality, these spam web pages are often littered with irrelevant and meaningless content, sometimes inappropriate in nature, or worse yet they can be used to host and spread malware.

Use of Web Anonymizers to Hide Illegal Online Activity on the Rise

The recent crackdown on well-known Torrent services, aided by Internet Service Providers, has led to the increasing use of anonymizers. As the name implies, anonymizers allow for anonymous web browsing and are used by end users to bypass restrictions or blocks to web content. Anonymizers are proxy services, or “proxies,” that receive and execute web requests on behalf of the user, making online activity untraceable. It is the untraceable aspect of anonymizers that has caught the attention of the underground community.

Brand Safety a Top Priority for Online Advertisers

Brand safety is one of the most important metrics of success for online advertisers. Ad placements on inappropriate web pages can negatively impact brand appeal, leading to lost revenue. PR nightmares will also erupt if ads are delivered onto malicious or compromised websites, which tend to frequently go online and offline. Publishers and online advertising delivery vendors are challenged with addressing the brand safety demand head on, and while some entities have stepped up through noted technological innovation, others still lag in winning over advertiser sentiment.

The 2011 Facebook Spam Campaign

Online advertising spending in the U.S. is on the rise. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, companies that sold online advertising reportedly surpassed $7 billion in revenue.1 Unfortunately, social engineering scams on Facebook also continue to thrive.2 How are the two related? Unsolicited Facebook spam in the form of status updates is actively infiltrating the social networking giant and aimed at tricking users into visiting websites ridden with survey scams and pop-up advertising, as is the case in the following analysis of a real-world example. This trend will continue to degrade the credibility of the online advertising industry and could possibly taint the images of the brands that these spam campaigns are targeting.

Affiliate Program Fraud

What happens when you offer up money to anyone who can drive traffic to your website?  Hackers, scammers, spammers and fraudsters come to your aid.  That’s the case with online movie site zml.com, which offers 30% of each sale and 5% of rebills paid via anonymous means to anyone who refers paying customers to the site. 

New Rash of Fraud Sites Touting Cheap Software

zvelo is researching a widespread and dangerous ring of fraudulent “OEM Software” distribution sites. These sites offer popular software from Microsoft, Adobe, and many other vendors at a greatly reduced price. Not only do they not deliver installable software, they collect sensitive information from individuals, including credit card numbers.