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Google buys London firm Spider.io to fight ad fraud

21 Feb 2014

Google has bought out London-based fraud prevention startup Spider.io in an effort to protect its advertising business model from ad-clicking malware spread by botnets.

The news was revealed a blog post detailing Google's efforts to prevent fraudulent ad clicks, a key threat to the web advertising industry. Spider.io has been trading for three years and listed seven staff on its website prior to Google's buyout.

Neal Mohan, Google's vice president of display advertising, called Spider.io's technology "world-class" and said the initial purpose of the buy is to integrate its fraud detection products into its video and display advertising services.

He continued: "Over the long term, our goal is to improve the metrics that advertisers and publishers use to determine the value of digital media and give all parties a clearer, cleaner picture of what campaigns and media are truly delivering strong results.

Spider.io has been bought by Google

"Also, by including Spider.io's fraud-fighting expertise in our products, we can scale our efforts to weed out bad actors and improve the entire digital ecosystem," he said.

Mohan also revealed that in 2013, Google rejected "millions" of applications from websites looking to join its ad network because of "suspected fraudulent activity", which could include nefarious tactics whereby websites hide many ads on a page in order to gain revenue from all of them.

Last year, Spider.io uncovered 'Chameleon', a botnet dedicated to clicking on adverts on around 200 websites in order to generate revenue for the site's owners. Spider.io estimated Chameleon alone cost the advertisers $6m per month, highlighting the scale of the problem faced by the web advertising industry.

Google did not say how many members of the Spider.io team would be making the transition to its business and it declined to comment when V3 asked for further details.

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Michael Passingham
About

Michael Passingham joined V3 as a reporter in June 2013. Prior to working at V3, Michael spent time at computing magazine PC Pro. Michael covers IT skills, social media, tech startups and also produces V3's video content.

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