Investigative team Sadbottrue has own technologies for data gathering and for meta-analysis of big data. We focused on findings and explanation of anomalies that influence on the tech companies. We are fighting against the social media and advertising fraud ecosystem.
12-letter ad fraud. Joincom
On April 5, 2017, Sadbottrue.com has published the “12-letter ad fraud” investigation. The ad fraud scheme includes more than 1000 unpronounceable 12-letters domains, that sent more than billion of simulated visitors on different sites, that have made hundreds of billions of ad views total.
Among largest recipients of simulated visitors and beneficiary of 12-letter ad fraud were the blog “travelwednesday”, the sports news site "Sportsmanias.com", the lazy slam-bang simulation of media scoobywhoop.com.
Today we cover a slightly more sophisticated scheme with 12-letter ad fraud.Bots can come to fraudulent sites not directly, but through the site for traffic laundering.Today we will show you the simple European video ad fraud scheme with 1 level of laundering.The traffic washing mashine is...
Joincom.com was created in September 2001, it was just an ordinary web forum until 2005. The next 7 years it was inactive, and from 2012 аnd until now redirected visitors to Joincom.it. It’s the site of Milan web marketing agency Joincom Consulting Srl, the owner of both domains.
In the second half of April 2016, site traffic begins to rise suddenly, to several tens of thousands of visits a day, but this does not mean that customers are interested in the services of the agency. 100% of the traffic came to the technical subdomain advertising.joincom.com, which redirected it to some digital media. By autumn of 2016, the scheme has become as we see it now.
Advertising.joincom.com receive a half of traffic from 12-letter domains. It also has a quarter of ad traffic, mostly from Pop Ads, and a quarter of direct visits. Thousands of direct daily visitors to the сompletely white page with a small inscription “Silence is golden” in the upper left corner looks pretty funny.
After peak traffic in October and November 2017 with 1.2-1.3 million monthly visits, it fluctuates between 300,000 - 700,000 visits. That is 10 - 25 thousand unique visitors a day.
Against the background of other investigations, the scale of this scheme does not look impressive. We assure you, you will be surprised by the amount of money you can earn on such insignificant traffic.
Than Joincom mixed this artificial audience and send this traffic to 5 sites.
On average, 47% of the traffic to each of this sites comes from the Joincom.com and another 3-4% directly from the 12-letter domains. The other two quarters are direct and search visits in approximately equal proportions.
No site had more than 160,000 visits and did not rise above 200,000 Alexa ranking. All of them exist in stealth mode.
Sites are very similar to each other, they are made on the same template. Because Joincom is a content factory, its product meets the title. This is a typical evergreen content of medium quality, not requiring constant updates. This can fill the place without causing suspicion, but it is impossible to attract thousands of regular readers with it.
The positioning of these sites cover the largest target groups for advertisers. Male audience (Motorimagazine), women's fashion and lifestyle (Donnemagazine), сhildren and motherhood (Mammemagazine), and two sites for consumers with reviews of travel and various goods (Viaggiamo and Offerte shopping). All of them seem to be created for super-targeted messages of the best brands to their clients. And there really is an incredible amount of advertising.
A typical page has static 6 ad units.
After downloading a page, video ads are often displayed.
Sometimes 2 ads can be shown.
At the same time, using 2 different video players.
If you make a few more visits, you will certainly be able to catch 3 synchronous ads.
Sometimes they are different, sometimes it's the same movie shown through different ad systems.
If you think this is the limit for these sites, you are mistaken. Their advertising optimization is so perfect that it can show you 4 videos at the same time. In the upper left corner, there are two ads, one over the other.
"Transparency", "viewability", "integrated big data", "artificial intelligence", "precision targeting", "verification", "brand safety". How many thousands of times have we heard these words from industry professionals?
But in the end, we see that no one checks anything. No one compares the data. Nobody is looking for publisher’s stats anomaly.
Otherwise, how to explain that you can already safely earn seven-digit revenues for six months, with traffic from 12-characters and 5-8 video ads for the visit.
It becomes clear why until now in the advertising market, despite the available technical capabilities, we do not see transparency.
Nobody needs it. Except for the advertiser.
The flagman of this group is the sixth site, Notizie.it
(Notizie* - News)
The domain was created on November 20, 1997. 14 years it was inactive, just in 2011, the media was launched and immediately reached 30,000 visits a day. Now the stats are 150,000 visits a day and more than 300,000 page views.
20,7% of its traffic come from 12-letter domains.
43% is ad traffic, mostly from Pop Ads, Pop Cash and Propeller Ads Media.
The the publishers sending its traffic are fake video streaming services, in fact it's just a laundering bot traffic. Some of them just a mimic paid video streaming service, and the entire site is only a false form to login. But this does not prevent them to show a multi-million monthly traffic, and send thousands of ad clicks to to affiliated web sites. If all referral and advertising traffic is completely falsified, then against this background, 29% of direct visits look unconvincing.
Only one video ad is shown for the visit. But there are up to 11 ad units on the single page, and large background-size ad. Most often in the background Decathlon advertised. Some places rotate the different ads during one visit.
Over the past six months, a group of 5 sites made a total of 7 million page views, an average of 2 minutes per page. They could show more than 50 million advertising videos.
Notizie.com made 67 million page views оver the same period, with 11 units of rotation it is more than a billion ad displays.
You have wondered who is the happy owner of 6 cash machines, bringing a daily basis thousands of dollars.
According to zoominfo.com, Nextone Media was founded in 1998 and is privately held, headquarters is located in London, Uk. Its revenue is between $5,000,000 and $10,000,000.
His partner is even more experienced entrepreneur Massimiliano Squillace. He described his 20 years way in the digital media business in autobiographical book “Startup di successo” (Successful Startup), 2014. You can buy it on Amazon.it only for 17,99 Euro. A quote from the review: “Massimiliano has experienced this great story in the first person, founding, living and selling dozens of Web companies… At least once in life, you entered in some of these sites and you find what you are looking for: information, entertainment, work, recipes... But maybe you never wonder how were born these great sites”.
They are also co-founders of Digital Capital Factory (Digitalcapitalfactory.com), business incubator for best early stage startups, based in Milan. Joincom, Notizie.it, and Nextone Media are included in the list of its projects. In total, the incubator launched 20 projects, but some of them are inactive at the moment.
The founders of Nextone Media are known and respected people in Italy, the patriarchs of the Italian Internet. How did they actually build their career if this fraudulent scheme became its top?