Ad Injection Poses A Big Challenge To Businesses

by CXOtoday News Desk    May 07, 2015


Of the many challenges in digital advertising, a dangerous and yet the least spoken about issues is that of ad injection. Ad injectors are computer programs that insert ads — or replace existing ones — on Web pages as users browse the Internet. A recent study done by Google states that the software can also pose serious security and privacy risks to organizations and is particularly harmful for e-commerce companies and online publishers.

Google reported it has received more than 100,000 complaints about ad injectors appearing in its Chrome browser since the beginning of this year. The tech major has collaborated with the University of California, Berkeley and Santa Barbara that examines the ad injector ecosystem. To read the entire report, Click here

Ad injectors’ businesses are built on a tangled web of different players in the online advertising economy. This complexity has made it difficult for the industry to understand this issue and help fix it. In its report, Google said 5.1% of page views on Windows and 3.4% of page views on Mac showed signs of ad injection software. It tracked ads from more than 3,000 brands appearing through ad injectors, including Sears, Walmart, Target, Ebay and others.

The research also unveiled the “tangled web” of ad networks and middlemen that profit from injected ads, Google said adding that this software is distributed by a network of affiliates that work to drive as many installs as possible via tactics like: marketing, bundling applications with popular downloads, outright malware distribution, and large social advertising campaigns. These affiliates are paid a commision whenever a user clicks on an injected ad.

Kurt Thomas, research scientist at Google, informed that the ad injection ecosystem profits from more than 3,000 victimized advertisers.  Because advertisers are generally only able to measure the final click that drives traffic to their sites, they’re often unaware of many preceding twists and turns, and don’t know they are receiving traffic via unwanted software and malware.

Ads originate from ad networks that translate unwanted software installations into profit: 77% of all injected ads go through one of three ad networks—,, and Publishers, meanwhile, aren’t being compensated for these ads. “We want to shed light on this issue so publishers can take action,” mentioned Thomas.

Google itself says it’s attempting to combat the issue by cracking down on deceptive extensions for its Chrome browser. It’s also telling advertisers about the practice, and sharing the names of some of the companies involved. During its study, Google found 77% of all injected ads passed through one of three ad networks. “We strongly encourage all members of the ads ecosystem to review their policies and practices so we can make real improvement on this issue,” he summed up.