digital advertising

Every Consumer IoT Device Should be Free

Devices are getting smarter. Everything from cellphones to refrigerators are connected to the internet. By 2020, there will be more than 20 billion IoT units in the world. The number of IoT devices in the world recently surpassed the world’s population.

The installed base of hard-to-secure smart things, such as TVs, fridges, and security cameras, is expected to grow 31 percent this year to reach 8.4 billion devices, or around a billion more than the world’s total population.

Why Should IoT Connected Devices Be Free?

IoT devices are portrayed as handy household gadgets, that help make users’ lives easier. The truth is, these devices are convenient and fun to use. However, the benefit to the user is dwarfed by the benefit to the companies with the data these devices collect.Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant are friendly helpers for their users. Although they seem helpful and friendly they are actually just a channel for these companies to acquire more data. Siri and Alexa, along with other digital assistants, are spies disguised as reliable aides.

Siri reports back to Apple and Alexa back to Amazon with a heap of information about the questions you asked and the topics of your conversations. And in the case of Google Home, it records everything, whether or not you ask it to.

Google stores your interactions with Google Home in My Activity, that includes the recordings of the questions you’ve asked or any other recordings the device made.

People Pay Google to Collect Information About Them

Data collection and analysis firms, like Nielsen, spend millions of dollars per year on acquiring information from consumers. Google though doesn’t have to buy information, because people willingly hand it over to them.

And in the case of Google Home and Google’s other IoT devices, people pay Google to collect their data. This is the case with most smart home devices, people are paying the companies. Then, along with the money, the company receives information from its “smart” data-sponge device.

Mozilla’s Gift Guide of IoT Devices

Mozilla is a leader in internet security and safety. It’s goal is to “defend the free and open web”. It published this gift guide to explain the privacy implications for some of the most popular gifts this season.

In this article, Mozilla lists these questions to ask yourself when considering your IoT devices:

  • Can it spy on me?
  • What does it know about me?
  • What could happen if something goes wrong?

However, it then explains that the companies producing these devices don’t make the answer to these questions obvious. Answering these questions, Mozilla says, “requires top privacy research skills as well as some high-level technical skills.”

IoT Security Concerns

The security issues may have a bigger effect on device sales this holiday season than expected. Consulting firm Deloitte released a survey in November in which 40% of respondents said they were concerned about home devices tracking their usage. If people are concerned about being tracked in their homes, they may wait for IoT security to catch up with other industries before buying the devices.

IoT Security Improvements

As IoT finds more uses in business and other large-scale infrastructure, the security concerns will ramp up significantly. This should lead to consumer devices also adopting better security.


As of now, a hack into a single IoT device would likely only lead to breaches in that single user’s personal data. But if an entire city’s traffic light system was connected and a breach occured, it could have very costly impacts. What is mostly a privacy concern for digital assistant users, could be a safety and security concern when applied to larger systems.

IoT Devices Are Risky, So Why Should We Pay for Them?

Bringing more connected devices into your home, really just makes you more vulnerable. These devices act as another point in which hackers could access your data. And some of these devices, like Amazon’s Echo Show, have cameras and microphones that could lead to major breaches of privacy.

If Amazon, Google and Apple all will benefit from the massive influx of user data, why should consumers have to risk losing private data and pay for the devices that make them vulnerable?

digital advertising

AdBistro Fights Ad Fraud

I originally wrote this article and posted it on the AdBistro blog. Check it out here.

According to The Bot Baseline, economic losses due to bot fraud in 2017 will be 10% lower than they were in 2016. In 2016’s study, the ANA reported that advertisers lost an estimated $7.2 billion due to ad fraud. Ad Fraud is a much larger issue than people realize. Although the loss will be less this year, advertisers will still lose ~$6.5 billion in 2017 to ad fraud.

This decline in losses due to fraud is promising for advertisers and publishers alike, because it accompanies news that advertising spending will likely increase by 10% or more this year.

What Is Bot Laundering?

Bot laundering is when fake traffic replicates human activity. Scammers can use these bots by selling them to publishers as “real traffic” or by using them to improve the traffic numbers on their own sites to charge more for ad space.

How Does Ad Fraud Work?

AdWeek recently published this article explaining four common ways ad fraudsters make money.

Fake Traffic Brokers

This happens which a publisher wants to increase traffic to its site. They will then go to a traffic broker, who promises to send high volumes of valuable traffic to the publisher’s site. Fraudsters will create traffic broker services that don’t deliver real traffic, but instead use bots. The publisher’s traffic will see an influx of users. The fraudulent traffic brokers are essentially protected and removed from the situation because neither the publisher nor the ad exchange will be unable to track them down.

Publishers who have purchased traffic from fake traffic brokers will likely be unaware that they are buying fake traffic. The bots are often created on real users’ computers using malware.

Ghost Sites

This involves creating content farms which churn out tons of thin, low-value content, and then using bots to create fake “qualified audiences”.

Ghost sites are websites which have tons of thin, low-value content published with the sole intent of ranking highly in search results. A content farm is a website that cranks out a very large number of articles a day full of low quality content written by freelancers or bots. The only intention is to rank highly on search engines. Google has cracked down on these sites, making them less prevalent, though.

URL Masking

CEO of Double Verify, Wayne Gattinella, explains that much of advertising technology’s infrastructure wasn’t designed with fraud prevention in mind. URL masking, an example of this, is when publishers sell their ad space to advertisers without disclosing where the ads will be published. The lack of transparency gives the publishers the abilities to inflate their site’s true value. They can make represent their site as more targeted, relevant and credible than it actually is, and charge advertisers more.

This can also involve a tactic known as “impression laundering,” which is when a site that steals copyrighted content hides the true location of the ads. This leads to ads being served alongside pirated content, which advertisers otherwise would avoid.

Pixel Stuffing & Ad Stacking

Some less-reputable web publications will put ads on their sites in a way that essentially hides them from users. These sites mainly use two tactics, pixel stuffing and ad stacking. Pixel stuffing is when websites cram ads into a 1-pixel by 1-pixel unit. The site loads the ad, but the user will never see it. Ad stacking, then, is when ads are placed on top of each other so the user only sees one ad. The advertiser still pays for the ads, despite the user remaining unaware of the hidden ads. Both methods lead to advertisers losing out on real views, and paying for fake traffic.

AdBistro Takes Action Against Non-Human Traffic

Adbistro examines ad fraud

AdBistro fighting ad fraud is nothing new, as we’ve been improving our fraud protection and prevention for years. We’ve been working with DoubleVerify, an industry leader in detecting and preventing non-human traffic, since 2014. For our clients trying to get their message to potential buyers, paying for fake traffic could ruin their campaign. It is in AdBistro and our clients’ best interest to ensure the clicks or impressions are genuine people and not bots.

AdBistro’s BistroAPI is constantly evolving to make the ad buying process better for our clients, both advertisers and publishers.

Read more about how AdBistro avoids fake traffic on the AdBistro Blog

digital advertising

The Basics of Digital Advertising

This article was originally posted on the AdBistro blog. Read the original article here.

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Digital advertising is really any marketing or advertising media that is digitally displayed. This most commonly refers to internet, mobile and hand-held media devices, but could also be out-of-home media like billboards or other digital banners. Here is a quick rundown of some basic digital ad types and key terms.

Digital Advertising Inventory

Advertising inventory is the number of ads, or amount of ad space, a publisher has available to sell to an advertiser. In the context of display ads, this inventory would be the individual ad units on the website. Inventory standards are set by groups like IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau). IAB specifications for programmatic selling and buying of inventories deliver greater efficiency and reliability.

Digital Advertising Platforms

  • Search Advertising: Also called paid search, search ads are advertising on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. There are over 3.5 billion searches per day on Google, ignoring this market is missing out on a big opportunity.
  • Display Advertising: These ads are the banners on websites that include images or videos. Internet users using ad-blockers make it more difficult to see high engagement rates on these types of ads. As a result, native advertising and other forms of digital advertising are becoming more popular.
  • Mobile Advertising: Mobile advertising is a method of advertising that shows up on a mobile device, like a smartphone. These could be text message advertisements, embedded in apps, or display ads on mobile websites. While many of the same tactics are used when targeting mobile users as desktop users, research suggests that engagement in mobile users is slightly higher.
  • Social Advertising: Hootsuite calls social advertising, “any kind of paid content on a social media network. The options run from a one-off promoted Tweet or Facebook post to a full-scale campaign with major budgets attached.”
  • Demand-side Platforms: A demand-side platform is “a piece of software used to purchase advertising in an automated fashion.” according to Digiday. Advertisers and agencies most often use DSPs in the ad buying process.

What is native advertising?

adbistro-native-ads-click-through-rate-ctrNative advertising is a form of paid media, where the paid content resembles the surrounding website/content. By blending with the rest of a webpage, (or even non-digital forms like magazines) the content is more user-friendly. As a result, native ads have a much higher engagement rate than traditional display ads.

What is programmatic advertising?

Programmatic ads are ads that have a completely automated buying process. Buying these ads is more efficient because a computer can monitor and bid on ads rather than having a person actually following and bidding on them. The automated buying process allows advertisers to reach specific audiences with pinpoint accuracy.

Prior to programmatic, the ad buying process was approached as direct sales. The advertisers and publishers would go back-and-forth with hundreds of spreadsheets, proposals, emails, etc. While this process is still used somewhat, it is less common thanks to programmatic.

Real-Time Bidding (RTB) vs. Automated Guaranteed

Both real-time bidding (RTB) and automated guaranteed are methods of programmatic ad buying. Real-time bidding buys impressions one at a time, based on who an advertiser is targeting. Advertisers bid by impression and if they win, their ad is immediately displayed.  This is the advantage to RTB, its ability to publish in an instant.  Automated guaranteed, or direct buying, allows marketers to buy ad impressions in bulk for a specific context or website, for example. The advantage to direct buying is that both the inventory and the price are guaranteed. However, once the deal is complete the advertiser loses control of when their ads are published on the site.

Why use digital advertising?

Quite simply, you should spend money on digital advertising because your competitors are doing it. If you neglect your business’ digital presence, your competitors will be at an advantage by reaching your target customers more often. Another reason is digital advertising’s superior tracking and measuring capabilities. Measuring a campaign’s ROI can be as simple as logging into Facebook and checking the engagement numbers on a particular post. As consumer data begins to paint a more complete picture of customers and their context, the insights into the buying process are deeper than ever. With this clear image of your most profitable customers, you can personalize which ads are served to which customers (depending on their place in the buying process).

How effective is digital advertising?

Digital advertising’s effectiveness obviously varies, but it makes optimizing your marketing and advertising efforts easier. Because the platform is so measurable, the most effective campaigns can be expanded and other campaigns can be stopped to maximize ROIs. By using the best available types of digital ads, as recommended by IAB, you will see twice the interaction rates.

Digital Advertising Pros and Cons

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, these are some of the most important factors you should consider.


  • With endless advertising options, solutions are more flexible to factors like budgets and technical capabilities.
  • Customer interaction possibilities are endless. Every screen is a possible place to advertise your brand.
  • Digital campaigns are extremely scalable. Your message can be spread worldwide in an instant.
  • Your campaign’s effectiveness can be measured and reported immediately. Less effective campaigns or ads can be reworked and improved instantly.
  • Digital advertising can improve your brand’s reputation and trust. This makes other advertising and marketing efforts more effective.


  • While reach may be high, as the digital ad space becomes more saturated, engagement may fall. You can combat this change by focusing on targeting the correct customers. Another way to improve engagement is to verify and check your traffic and inventory. AdBistro works with Integral Ads, comScore and AdVerify to make sure its traffic is high quality and provides results for its clients.
  • Blindly placing your ads online can open your brand up to negative associations. If your ad is published on a website that conflicts with your brand’s message it can harm your business. It is important to audit your advertisements to make sure they are being seen by the right people. AdBistro verifies its inventory by performing routine audits of where it publishes ads.
  • Without tracking, ROIs can be lost. If you aren’t following your campaigns and adjusting them to emphasize the most effective ads, you will lose valuable results. AdBistro’s intuitive reporting interface makes it easy to monitor and adjust campaigns as necessary.