Q2 2023

Ad Quality Report

GeoEdge’s mission is to protect the integrity of the digital advertising ecosystem and to preserve a quality experience for users.

GeoEdge monitored and analyzed billions of advertising impressions across premium websites, apps, and SSPs to compile the research presented in this report. 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.

GeoEdge has observed a significant rise in malicious ads in Japan (JP) and Canada (CA) during Q2 2023. In JP, two specific attacks are responsible for the surge: Post-click cloaking scams targeting desktop users since late April, and a highly obfuscated auto-redirect attack affecting both desktop and mobile users since mid-May. In CA, there has been a steady increase in various scams, such as misleading product offers, financial scams, and auto-redirects, since early April. Approximately half of these scams are served through Google’s Ad Exchange.

Malicious Activity Index 2022-2023

The level of malicious ads continues to gain momentum as observed in the previous quarter. The monthly average of malicious ads in the first half of 2023 is 61% higher compared to the second half of 2022. It is worth noting the significant rise in Pre-Click issues during April and May. This marks the reappearance of a well-known redirect attack primarily targeting mobile users in the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan.

Top 5 most prevalent malvertising attacks:

Clickbait remains a pervasive issue, serving as the primary malicious method to defraud users. Misleading product offers dominate as the primary form of advertising attack. Surprisingly, auto-redirect ads make a comeback, emerging as the second most prevalent form of malvertising vector.

Misleading Product Offer 1: Anti-Aging Cream

Misleading Product Offer 2: Hair Loss Pill 

Misleading Product Offer 3: Miracle Diabetes Pill

Malicious Ads by Device

Typically, we see more malicious ads on mobile devices, but this quarter, due to the increase in post-click scams in Japan targeting desktop users, we are now witnessing an equal number of malicious ads globally on both platforms.

SSP Malicious Ad Index: Q1/ Q2 Comparison

When comparing to Q1, there has been a concerning global increase of 10% in malicious ads, and the performance of almost all Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) has worsened.

In a similar fashion to Q1, SSP1 and SSP6 continued to be the most affected platforms during Q2, accounting for 73% of all blocked malicious ads this quarter. However, this is an improvement from the previous quarter’s figure of 87%.

SSP4 experienced a significant surge in malicious ads, growing nearly seven times in Q2. In Q1, SSP4 had the second-best quality score, making this a drastic change that we will closely monitor in the upcoming quarters.

On the other hand, SSP2 remains the top-performing SSP, maintaining a stable performance rate of 0.01%.

About GeoEdge

GeoEdge’s advanced security solutions ensure high ad quality and verify that sites offer a clean, safe and engaging user experience, so publishers can focus on their business success. Publishers around the world rely on GeoEdge to stop malicious and low-quality ads from reaching their audience. GeoEdge allows publishers to maximize their ad revenue without quality concerns, protect their brand reputation and increase their user loyalty. GeoEdge guards digital businesses against unwanted, malicious, offensive and inappropriate ads — without sacrificing revenue.