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Leonid Bershidsky

Digital Advertising Becomes a Human-Free Zone

The online marketing industry is a charade.
Whatever she's watching, it's not your expensive advert.

Whatever she's watching, it's not your expensive advert.

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

WhiteOps, a U.S. cybersecurity company, says it has uncovered the biggest online advertising scam ever, operated from Russia and making between $2.6 million and $5.2 million a day -- as much as four times what the New York Times makes from advertising. The announcement should be a warning to anyone entrusted with a corporate budget to spend on online marketing: There's a good chance your wares will never be seen by a human. 

Much was made recently of garage operations in Macedonia generating fake news about the U.S. election to exploit Google's AdSense feature that allows the owners of small sites to earn ad revenue. Google later moved to exclude fake news sites from the AdSense program. But the fraud WhiteOps has dubbed Methbot seems much more sophisticated.