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AOL's New Video Audience May Consist Largely of Robots

AOL's New Video Audience May Consist Largely of Robots
Photograph by Yagi Studio

AOL’s purchase of video-advertising company Adap.tv for $405 million last week may come with a serious problem—that no one sees many ads purchased through the company’s exchange. According to a report on Thursday in AdWeek, multiple sources with first-hand knowledge of the exchange say a significant portion of the network’s activity is phony.

Online advertisers typically pay based on how many people see their ads, but Adap.tv juices its numbers by sending ads to invisible windows on high-traffic sites, displaying them underneath the visible ads or in impossibly small windows, according to the AdWeek report. (This kind of practice is called impression fraud; one impression equals one viewer.)