Survey Reveals Global Differences in the Perceived Risk Web-Based Malware Poses to the Digital Ecosystem

ExchangeWire Research uncovers varied international understanding of web-based malware and how it negatively impacts the brand reputations of digital publishers, ad tech providers and their advertisers

London, U.K.: With malicious advertising attacks worldwide expected to triple in 2016, malware continues to be a significant issue for digital publishers, ad tech providers, and their advertisers. Even though the billions of pounds in damages malvertising causes each year impacts the entire global ecosystem, research from ExchangeWire and The Media Trust reveals significant differences in malware understanding between geographic regions.

Knowledge varies greatly across Europe with 33% of French respondents saying they are ‘not well informed’ about the threat of malware compared with 16% in the U.K. and 13% in Germany. In the U.S. this figure is even lower with only 3% feeling uninformed. Similar disparities were observed regarding the perception of malware as a risk to ecommerce sites. German and French publishers take an optimistic view, suggesting the percentage of ecommerce sites vulnerable to malware threats is 26% and 28% respectively. U.K. publishers are more sceptical, believing 63% of sites are impacted, and U.S. publishers are even more pessimistic citing 72%.

Although the exact cause of these geographic discrepancies was not determined, Andrew Robinson, SVP Engineering at Audience Science suggested a possible reason for the differences in viewpoints. He said “Germany and France have a small number of publishers that are very strong and very responsible for their overall market. The U.S. and U.K. have many publishers and are less trusting of them.” However, differences in education on cyber security and awareness of malware may also be at the heart of these discrepancies.

Other key findings:

  • 46% of German publishers are very confident in their organisations’ ability to protect their website from security breaches compared with just 8% of U.S. publishers.
  • 41% of French respondents believe the extent of the malware problem does not differ between mobile and desktop compared with 23% in the U.K. and 17% in Germany.
  • 64% of German publishers are very confident of their organisations’ ability to verify the successful placement of every ad compared with just 8% of U.K. publishers.

The survey findings highlight the need for greater education in every market around the world to ensure publishers, brands, agencies and advertisers not only comprehend the ongoing risk malware poses, but also effectively address this constant threat by continuously analysing each online or mobile ad for suspicious or malicious code as it moves through the digital advertising supply chain.

“As the online and mobile ad serving ecosystems become more and more complex, interest amongst online fraudsters will also continue to grow, as each node in the digital advertising supply chain represents a potential conduit for malware,” said Rebecca Muir, head of research and analysis, ExchangeWire. “Our study shows that while digital marketers in the US and EMEA markets are aware of the issue, their level of awareness varies as does their ability to combat malware. Regardless of geography, there is an urgent need for deeper understanding and better education so the online and mobile ecosystems can effectively fight digital fraud.”

“Web-based malware continues to be one of the most significant threats to the global digital publishing and advertising industry,” said Alex Calic, CRO, The Media Trust. “Marketers—media publishers, ecommerce, ad tech providers, advertisers and brands—in every region need to take responsibility for protecting both their digital assets and their consumers against web-based malware, which is becoming more and more sophisticated.”

For more information about the ExchangeWire study and further insights see


The survey – sent via email to the ExchangeWire subscriber base, promoted on, and promoted by The Media Trust during April 2016—sampled 138 global digital marketing professionals. ExchangeWire also interviewed multiple senior marketing and technology professionals to obtain their views.

About ExchangeWire

ExchangeWire tracks global data-driven and programmatic advertising, media buying trends, and the ad tech and mar tech sectors. Delving deep into the business of automated media trading and the technology that underpins it across multi-channels (online display, video, mobile, and social), the site aims to keep readers up to date on all the latest news and developments.

ExchangeWire provides opinion and analysis on the following sector companies: specialist media buyers, ad traders, ad networks, media agencies, publishers, data exchanges, ad exchanges and specialist ad tech providers in the video, mobile and online display markets.

The idea behind ExchangeWire Research was conceived in 2014 by Ciaran O’Kane, CEO of ExchangeWire, and Rebecca Muir, Head of Research and Analysis. They have been busy developing ExchangeWire Research into a fully-fledged, international analyst function, covering issues critical to marketers today from a neutral and informed perspective. Powered by proprietary technology and our unique industry data sets, our new division will offer global data and insight on the marketing technology, advertising technology and programmatic advertising sectors.

About The Media Trust

The Media Trust works with the world’s largest, most-heavily trafficked digital properties to provide real-time security, first-party data protection and privacy, performance management and quality assurance solutions that help protect, monetize and optimize the user experience across desktop, smartphone, tablet and gaming devices.

As the global leader in monitoring the online and mobile ecosystems, The Media Trust leverages a physical presence in more than 65 countries and 500 cities around the globe to continuously scan websites, ad tags and mobile apps and alert on anomalies affecting websites and visitors alike. More than 500 publishers, ad networks, exchanges, agencies and corporates—including 40 of comScore’s AdFocus Top 50 websites—rely on The Media Trust to protect their website, their employee internet use, their revenue and, most importantly, their brand.