Integral Ad Science Quarterly Media Quality Report Reveals Changes in Bot Behavior

Latest Industry Snapshot Finds Improvements in Viewability and Spotlights the Current State of Digital Ad Fraud

NEW YORK, NY – Integral Ad Science, the leading global provider of actionable advertising intelligence for buyers and sellers of digital media, today released a quarterly media quality report, highlighting key quality metrics for the digital ad industry, including brand safety, viewability and fraud. Notably, the report shows a significant improvement in the level of ad fraud within exchanges over the last year, with suspicious activity levels decreasing from 30 percent in Q4 2012 to 13 percent in Q4 2013. This improvement is due in part to an increased understanding around bot activity and behavior and the use of technology to monitor and block suspicious activity.

Integral reviews more than two billion impressions each day through its integration with the top five demand side platforms (DSPs), nearly all of the major exchanges, all agency holding companies, and more than 70 of the “Advertising Age Top 100 Advertisers.” Integral qualifies each impression according to its TRAQ (True Advertising Quality) Score, a holistic metric of media quality, which measures attributes such as viewability, fraud, professionalism, ad clutter, brand safety and collisions.

With regard to media quality in Q4 2013, the report notes:

  • TRAQ Score by Channel:
    • Direct publishers received a score of 684 out of a possible 1,000
    • Exchanges and networks received a score of 597 out of a possible 1,000
  • Viewability*:
    • 66 percent of ads placed through direct publishers were in view, representing a five percent improvement in viewability as compared to Integral’s most recent Semiannual Review
    • 50.6 percent of ads placed through networks were in view
    • 47.4 percent of ads placed through exchanges were in view
  • Brand Safety
    • Less than 10 percent of ads were flagged on sites with moderate to very high risk content
    • Brand safety was highest across ads placed through direct publishers, with only 2.8 percent risk
  • Suspicious Activity
    • 13 percent of traffic across exchanges was suspicious in Q4 2013, compared to 30 percent over the same time frame in 2012
    • Direct publishers had the lowest rate of suspicious activity, at two percent, and networks had the highest, at 15 percent

*According to the IAB standard definition, an ad is considered to be in view if 50 percent of pixels on the ad are visible for one second or longer.

“Increased awareness of media quality and the growing adoption of quality standards has a direct effect on the state of the digital media, as visible by this report,” said Scott Knoll, CEO of Integral Ad Science. “Now that both advertisers and publishers are taking measures to protect themselves and optimize their media choices, overall quality has improved. We’re seeing more ads are in view, and brand safety and suspicious activity problems are being tamed over time. We are proud to lead the industry in this effort and are hard at work to ensure that all players in the digital ecosystem have access to the best-in-breed technology and highest quality media.”

In order to provide the most innovative media quality solutions in the industry, Integral’s data science team regularly conducts rigorous data analyses, advancing their understanding of factors affecting media quality. In conjunction with the quarterly report, today they announce the findings of a study conducted in November 2013, which follows activity patterns of fraudulent traffic. In this study, Integral recorded and examined the behavioral patterns of bots across the U.S. over a period of a week. Such studies help scientists gain the upper hand in the arms race against botnet operators. By understanding the specific patterns of behavior, the Integral team is able to continuously fine-tune its suspicious activity solution and effectively eliminate fraud.

Botnet operators often run their operations from abroad and target the U.S. due to high advertising spending and an opportunity to illegally tap into those budgets. The study highlights that despite their origin, bots are active across the map during all hours of the day with spontaneous bursts at different times and different locations. Other findings include:

  • Bots don’t need sleep. During the night while human activity is lowered, it is evident that bots are hard at work. The concentration of bot activity increases from east to west by time zone as it gets later into the night.
  • In rural areas, where there are fewer users and a higher concentration of infected computers, the bot infected computers make the swing in activity more extreme.
  • Fraudulent activity is more prevalent at night relative to human traffic, which represents a failure of bots to accurately mimic human behavior.

A recording of the geographical activity of fraudulent traffic as a percentage of total traffic per Nielsen DMA region can be viewed here:

“The study highlights one of many angles that we use to investigate bot traffic,” said Kiril Tsemekhman, Chief Data Officer of Integral Ad Science. “Studying patterns related to geography and time of day helps us find their weak spots and gain the upper hand. As a result of studies like this, we are able to identify suspicious activity in real time and surgically remove it before an ad is ever served. Additionally, all data feeds into our machine learning algorithms, which makes our predictive models more precise and accurate.”

About Integral Ad Science
Integral Ad Science is a technology company focused on ensuring safe, quality media environments for online advertisers. Employing the industry’s only media valuation platform, Integral Ad Science evaluates the media environment and establishes a TRAQ Score (True Advertising Quality), a first-of-its kind, quantifiable measure of media quality that ultimately benefits every media buyer, seller, publisher and trading platform. TRAQ score supports an advertisers’ ability to plan, execute and target their audience in an environment that reflects their brand image and drives ROI, while simultaneously setting benchmarks for publishers who wish to improve the quality of their content and design to attract premium advertisers. Integral is headquartered in New York with operations in San Francisco, London, Tokyo and Sydney. Learn more at