White Paper: How Fraud is Plaguing the Online Advertising Industry


This paper will briefly examine the origins of the current online advertising marketplace, how the marketplace operates today, and how fraud has become so rampant it threatens the entire paradigm. It will also explore how a novel “clean” approach to the online infrastructure, known as Equinix Ad-IX Ecosystem™, offers a solution that benefits all parties involved.



Digital advertising transformed the advertising world forever, uprooting an entire industry virtually overnight. Advertisers enjoy both instantaneous views of their product (versus someone maybe watching a television ad during a program) and instantaneous feedback regarding the ad’s effectiveness. There are no lingering questions as to whether an ad is working or not—compared to traditional broadcast advertising—and an endless number of on-the-fly alterations can be made based on Big Data analysis and user trends.

That same immediacy also applies to the purchasing marketplace as ad buys are now made in microseconds via algorithms, not humans.

While the groundbreaking efficiencies and return on investment (ROI) of this new paradigm are praised across the industry, a dark side soon emerged.

Traditionally, advertisers would complain, “I know 50 percent of my advertising isn’t working, but I’m not sure which 50 percent.” Was the sudden increase in sales due to the print advertisement in Good Housekeeping magazine or a 30-second spot during All in the Family? It was never truly clear, but the advertising did ultimately work. 

Ironically, today things are much worse—advertisers literally know up to 50 percent of their advertising isn’t working, and the reason is outright fraud. The same remarkable technology that made the digital advertising age a success has allowed infiltration by a wide variety of criminal elements. And as new media channels such as video and mobile advertising grow in popularity, the situation is only going to get worse.

This paper will briefly examine the origins of the current online advertising marketplace, how the marketplace operates today, and how fraud has become so rampant it threatens the entire paradigm. It will also explore how a novel “clean” approach to the online infrastructure, known as Equinix Ad-IX Ecosystem™, offers a solution that benefits all parties involved.



Equinix, Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) operates a global interconnection platform of more than 200 International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers in 52 markets in the Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific. Our mission is to protect, connect and power the digital economy.
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