They steal your data without paying for it
So, would you give third parties the login to your Google Analytics? Further, what if I told you they were using your data and making money from it, under the cover of programmatic ad tech and data management providers?
They steal your ad dollars by raiding your cookie jar
In programmatic advertising, the promise to advertisers is that they can reach audiences no matter where they show up. Ad exchanges have vast numbers of sites in their networks, so they can show ads to particular users when they show up on any site in the network. In fact, if a user expresses interest in specific topics by visiting certain sites, they can be re-targeted with ads that match that interest. And advertisers are willing to pay premiums to get their ads in front of those targeted users.
Having studied ad fraud for many years, I, and other researchers, have shown that the ‘bad guys’ actively cover their tracks to avoid detection. They do this by making their fraud bots appear to be human. The best way to accomplish this is by ‘collecting cookies’ – sending their bots to websites and allowing the site to set cookies; but easier still is just stealing cookies from real human visitors (i.e. ‘cookie cloning’).
Once the fraud bots have a beautiful collection of cookies, they become particularly attractive targets for advertisers who will pay extra to show ads to them. The bot is then directed to go to a cash-out site owned by the bad guys. When an ad impression is created on that site, the ad dollars go there. That’s how the bad guys steal ad dollars away from legitimate sites. That’s why big publishers have seen ad revenue declines in recent years, as programmatic advertising continues to grow.
They steal your users’ passwords and personal information