Q3 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 noted a dramatic increase in malicious ads in the US and Canada (CA) during Q3 compared to the first half of the year. On average, 1 in every 65 impressions we monitored in Canada during that period had a malicious incident, representing a roughly 140% increase compared to the first half of 2023.

This surge can be attributed to two specific attacks:

A major auto-redirect attack targeted mobile users in August, accounting for about 30% of all malicious impressions during Q3 in these regions.
The spike in misleading product offers for desktop users in September.

Malicious Ad Index 2022-2023

The level of malicious ads soared dramatically during August and September. The monthly average of malicious ads over the last two months was 226% higher than the previous ten months. Most notable was the significant increase in pre-click incidents in August, much of which can be attributed to mobile redirect attacks in the US and Canada. The surge in incidents during September, however, reflects a rise in various types of attacks, including misleading product offers, malicious add-ons, and financial scams.

Top 5 Most Prevalent Malvertising Vectors:

Auto-redirects became the most common type of attack this quarter, tripling compared to their monthly average during the first half of 2023. Misleading product offers also saw an increase, nearly doubling. Gift card scams remained relatively stable, while financial scams and malicious add-ons experienced a slight decline.
Misleading product offer: Fake Anti aging product
Financial Scam:
fake stock trading app
Malicious Add-ons & Extensions
Gift Card

Malicious Ads by Device

The major auto-redirect attack that occurred in August significantly impacted the overall distribution of attacks between mobile and desktop. This quarter, we recorded 57% of malicious incidents on mobile and only 42% on desktop. Without this particular attack, the distribution would have been closer to 50-50.

SSP Malicious Ad Index: Q2/ Q3 Comparison

Q3 has seen a dramatic 49% increase in malicious ads worldwide as compared to Q2. When examining it based on SSPs we can see the main contributors to these statistics.

In Q3, SSP1 and SSP6 continued to be the most affected platforms. Attacks on these platforms soared to the point where almost 2 of every 100 impressions served by them was infected by malvertising.

SSP10’s infection level continued its growing momentum recognized already in Q2, and SSP13 is a newcomer to our report growing it’s footprint worldwide with an unfortunate increase in malicious ads compared to it’s size.

In a notable turnaround, SSP4 displayed significant growth in Q3 following a challenging Q2 characterized by high levels of malicious ad impressions. Notably, while expanding, they have enhanced their quality metrics and successfully decreased malicious impressions by 45%.

Once again, SSP2 remains the top-performing SSP, maintaining a good performance rate of 0.02%. 

Election 2024 Ads Have Entered The Arena

Unique Elections Ads ramp up during Q3 (by weeks)

In Q3, there was a steady increase in election ads, as indicated by the trend line on the graph which tracks the weekly count of unique election-related ads we classified in the US. Q3 election ads trend up, increasing revenue, but risk misaligning with publisher audiences and harming user engagement.

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 audiences. GeoEdge allows publishers to maximize ad revenue without quality concerns, protect their brand reputation, and increase user loyalty. GeoEdge guards digital businesses against unwanted, malicious, offensive, and inappropriate ads — all without sacrificing revenue.