MALICIOUS REDIRECTS CAUSE BUSINESS DISRUPTION
“We’ve been dealing with malicious redirects that disrupted our business since long before header bidding took off – back to the days of the waterfall,” said Omry Aviry, Chief Product Officer at PubPlus. “The negative impacts to our business have been widespread when gone untreated – from meaningful revenue disruption, to operational issues and countless user complaints. When social networks start shutting off your advertising accounts due to the persistent presence of malware, you know you have a real problem!”
In some cases, the signs of the issues are obvious. “On a day when attacks would scale, we might experience a loss of over 50% of our page views per user session,” said Aviry. In other cases, PubPlus wouldn’t be able to feel the exact pain in their revenue, but instead their users would tell them directly. “Our end users are vocal, and when they are experiencing an impaired user experience related to malicious ads, they let us know in the comments section of our Facebook posts.”
CHALLENGES WITH HOMEGROWN SOLUTIONS
PubPlus has been trying to solve these challenges since they started back in 2015. A combination of vendors and homegrown solutions helped – but never truly solved the problem. When they would see volatility in key operating metrics, it would signal an issue and result in an after-the-fact investigation.
To solve the problem – they turned to manual intervention. “The team would subsequently manually shut off demand sources, specifically ones that they noticed that had spiked in win rate to see if this stopped the problem,” stated Aviry, “but that cost us revenue. We needed more automation, and we needed a solution that could not only catch the big spikes, but also protect us with the smaller ones that were much more difficult to catch, troubleshoot, and block,” added Aviry. “We knew what we needed, we knew the shortcomings of current solutions in the industry, and were convinced that a real solution to the problem didn’t exist…until we found clean.io.”
BRINGING IN AN ANTI-MALVERTISING SOLUTION
Aviry and the team at PubPlus are active readers and contributors to online forums like Reddit.com/adops. It was on Reddit that they first became aware of clean.io. They read a case study that clean.io had completed with another publisher in the ecosystem detailing their struggle, and the solution. “The blog post hit a nerve with the team. It was authentic. It effectively described the challenge that publishers face. But most importantly it articulated how the clean.io approach was different – in a way that we had never seen before in the industry. We had tried other solutions in the past, but this time it felt different and we needed to give it a try,” Aviry stated.
By the spring of 2019, PubPlus’ traffic was scaling in a big way that presented a growing problem for PubPlus. Malvertising attacks were on the rise, and they could no longer rely on manual intervention to solve such a complex problem.
According to Aviry, it was simple, “the clean.io solution worked exactly as described. Simple, effective, and smart.” He added, “following implementation we saw all key financial KPIs improve, our social media accounts return to stability, and our end users were no longer complaining about bad user experiences.”
Pub Plus went live with Clean.io in late May 2019, immediately prior to the attacks on Memorial Day weekend. During their free trial, PubPlus conducted A/B testing of clean.io across multiple sites – with the key goals of measuring effectiveness, and quantifying potential revenue loss if the websites would not be protected in the best way. The results were impressive. “We noticed that when our clients’ sites were under attack, we would see a drop of 50% of our session duration and total page views per session without clean.io protection in place,” said Aviry. “Once adding the clean.io protection on, we could easily see our sessions and other critical operating metrics return to normal.”
PubPlus also did extensive analysis to understand the implied revenue loss that malvertising would have on their business if it remained unsolved. “While malvertising tends to come and go, we conservatively estimate that our monthly revenue loss was estimated at close to 3%,” noted Aviry. “This doesn’t even factor in the other benefits of ensuring our clients’ readers the best reading and user experience the publisher site has to offerr.”
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