Our Fight Against Fraud

September 14, 2015 — by Michael Lamb

Last week MediaMath learned of a specific type of malicious activity being perpetrated within the RTB ecosystem. One of our clients was using our technology to purchase ad inventory and then using third-party ad tags to offer it for resale multiple times under false pretenses on exchanges such as LiveRail, and AOL. While the initial purchase which they executed on our platform appears to have been legitimate, the subsequent behavior is a clear violation of our terms of use, and we have acted swiftly to shut down the activity.

Combatting ad fraud has been and remains a top priority for MediaMath. We have made substantial investments to protect our clients through a broad and evolving array of proprietary and external technologies, business protocols and processes (see: TerminalOne Delivery Management,TAG and Digital Ad Leaders Announce New Program to Block Fraudulent Data Center Traffic, and more generally The Other Half of the Battle Against Fraud.) These measures have made TerminalOne significantly more resistant to fraudulent supply than other buying platforms in the market.

We are therefore doubly frustrated that our technology was involved in the perpetration of this malicious activity. As a true self-service platform with a wide and growing set of supported use cases, the responsibility on us is that much higher to guard against inappropriate uses of our technology. We will therefore be enhancing our existing measures to not only identify and prevent fraud on the supply side but on the demand side as well. These measures will include:

  • Enhanced screening of prospective client organizations and principals, including strict vetting for industry history and reputation
  • Additional monitoring of client settings and usage to identify suspicious buy-side activity
  • New tools for our partners to use in delivering real-time data on malicious activity back into our systems for immediate response
  • Modification of our “strikes” policy to deal more swiftly and summarily with truly malicious behavior

To everyone in the ecosystem, we urge you to reach out to your partners and vendors, be they SSP, DSPs, or anything in the middle, if you ever observe questionable activity. This behavior, and others like it, damages the market confidence in RTB and programmatic marketing in general. We are committed to helping eliminate all forms of fraud in our industry through advances in technology, continued education and awareness, and close collaboration with our clients and partners.

Michael Lamb

Michael Lamb is responsible for corporate strategy and development, the commercialization of the company’s offerings, and for the success of its business partnerships. Michael works closely with the sales, product and operations teams to solidify MediaMath’s position as a leader in the industry while identifying and executing upon growth opportunities. Michael brings nearly 15 years of experience in digital marketing and media, most recently as a partner at McKinsey & Company where his clientele included many of the world’s most prominent content owners, publishers, distributors, and advertisers. Michael is a frequent author and speaker on analytic marketing and digital business models for media companies. Earlier in his career, Michael was a co-founder of Poindexter Systems (now [X+1]) alongside Zawadzki. Michael holds an M.A. in Mathematics, with distinction, from the University of Oxford and a B.A. in Applied Mathematics, cum laude, from Harvard University. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three kids and is sure to be the worst poker player on MediaMath’s Executive Team.

  • Thanks for sharing this, Michael.

    I’ve been frustrated as a consumer with what I’m seeing as a reader on many sites and this fight can’t be won by any company alone.

    I’d love to discuss anti-fraud methodologies with you especially on mobile ad inventory. I couldn’t find you on Twitter which I use a lot these days so feel free to hit me up via email.

  • is it not allowed to run external tags and resell the traffic on the media math platform?

    What did PLYMEDIA do exactly that caused this ban? if they bought the impressions legitimately and then sold it forward via external tags what’s so wrong with that?

    • Sam Cox

      Buying impressions legitimately and then selling them via external tags in and of itself is not an issue. What constitutes illegitimate activity in MediaMath’s view would be if the party in question is (a) misrepresenting the characteristics of what is being sold (e.g., passing a publisher name into the URL which is not the actual publisher the ad is running on, claiming the ad is pre-roll video inventory when in fact it is an in-banner video, etc.), (b) harming the publisher and/or user experience in any way (e.g., impacting ad or page load times, delivering ads not within publisher quality standards, etc.), or (c) engaging in any form ad fraud (e.g., serving invisible ads, etc.). Any of the above would constitute grounds for a ban under MediaMath’s policies.