Q1 2024
Ad Quality Report


GeoEdge’s Ad Quality Report examines the prevalence and origins of malvertising attacks on global devices across channels. Here’s how AdTech fared in early 2024:

From 2023- 2024, GeoEdge monitored and analyzed billions of advertising impressions across premium websites, apps, and SSPs to compile the research presented in this article. The data was collected using GeoEdge’s real-time ad security solution, which enables the measurement of quality and blocking of malvertising across devices and channels on live impressions.

Top Malvertising Attack Vectors Q1 2024

Misleading product offers and auto-redirects stand out as the most significant threats to the advertising ecosystem to date. Although auto-redirects show a decrease from the 2023 average, they still linger at a 25%, a significant share associated with the Scamclub VAST redirect campaign. Meanwhile, malicious extensions, add-ons, and financial scams persist as persistent threats. Q1 has also experienced a concerning rise in tech support scams, coinciding with a decline in gift card scams.

Regional Malicious Activity

Malicious Ads / All Ads Served

During this quarter, GeoEdge’s security engines intercepted a greater number of malicious ads across all major regions, surpassing last year’s averages. Particularly noteworthy is the substantial increase in the US and UK. Conversely, Japan has experienced significant improvement, with the prevalence of malicious ads dropping to half of what it was in 2023.

Pre & Post-Click Attacks:

January recorded a high incidence of malicious ads, predominantly involving post-click scams. In February and March, while the overall number of malicious ads decreased, there was an increase in the proportion of pre-click attacks, which can be partially attributed to the Scamclub VAST attack.

Device Targeting:

In Q1, 57% of attacks targeted desktop devices, only 42% targeted mobile devices. This a reversal from the typical pattern where mobile attacks comprise 55%-60% of incidents. Analyzing the attack vectors, desktop attacks predominantly involve post-click scams that utilize clickbait ads. A significant 52% of attacks on mobile devices are characterized by pre-click automatic redirects.

Malicious SSP Index

Malicious Ads vs All Ads Served

Google’s infection rate has slightly decreased from last year’s average of 1.25% but remains a top distributor of malicious ads, with 0.98% flagged as malicious. SSP06 has hit its worst performance yet, with almost 3% of its ads blocked for being malicious. SSP10, usually a high-quality SSP, saw its infection index peak at 0.86% this quarter—nearly three times higher than its 2023 score of 0.29%—due to financial scams and misleading offers targeting desktop users in the US and Canada.

Meanwhile, SSP12’s negative trend from Q4 continued into this quarter, with its malicious index climbing to an unprecedented 2.56%. This rise, primarily in January, was fueled by a significant number of financial and fake antivirus scam ads circulated by SSP12 in the US and Italy.

Ad Content Filtering Trends

Top 10 Restricted Ad Content in the USA and Canada

U.S. publishers are actively filtering a diverse range of ad categories to maintain content integrity and comply with regulations. This includes ads related to gambling, weapons, news, marijuana, law, government and politics, weight loss, pharmaceuticals, intimate apparel, and health.

With the onset of election season, publishers are beginning to see an influx of 2024 Election ads, prompting some to block them entirely, now accounting for 3% of all content blocks under the U.S. elections category.

The Leading 10 Blocked Ad Content in Europe

In the European digital advertising landscape, content blocking trends reveal a strong aversion towards gambling ads, with 40% of publishers choosing to block such content. Following closely behind, swimwear and intimate apparel ads are also frequently blocked, comprising 22% of the content blocks.

Meanwhile, digital publishers display a notable restraint towards political and governmental content, as well as health-related ads, each constituting 9% and 8% of blocked content.

Top 10 blocked categories APAC

In APAC, gambling advertisements dominate the content blocks, with a substantial 50% of publishers opting to restrict such content. Tobacco promotions follow closely behind, constituting 27% of the blocked material, reflecting a stringent approach towards potentially harmful products.

News, pharmaceuticals, and governmental creatives each make up 5% of the blocked content.

Elevate the User Experience with Secure Ad
Exeriences Powered by GeoEdge

GeoEdge’s comprehensive suite of ad quality and security solutions empowers publishers and ad platforms to proactively combat malicious actors and harmful ads, safeguarding uninterrupted revenue streams and delivering an exceptional user experience. Protect your audience with real-time detection and blocking against unwanted creatives and malvertising threats. Block undesirable ads at the pre-impression level, preserving clean campaigns before they reach users. Trusted globally, GeoEdge offers real-time protection, swiftly blocking unwanted creatives to maintain integrity throughout the AdTech supply chain.