ComScore Will Acquire MdotLabs to Help Fight Ad Fraud

Analytics notable will use the startup's safety technology

Cyber-safety startup MdotLabs is being acquired by comScore, an online analytics and fraud prevention.

MdotLabs's 12-person staff will join the Reston, Va.-based researcher's team. The move appears to be of a broader effort to stem the tide of non-human traffic (NHT) that has caused $14 billion in losses for the online advertising sector. For the last year, brands have begun to demand that platforms and agencies take a stronger stand on making sure promos are actually seen. The industry is starting to react in earnest, and comScore is on board.

MdotLabs was founded last year by partners Timur Yarnall and Paul Barford, PhD., and it developed anti-NHT technology that comScore plans to integrate with its pre-existing analytics tools: Media Metrix and Validated Campaign Essentials.

Since its 1999 inception, comScore has advanced the study of human behavior in the digital marketplace. Upcoming plans include the launch of two audience trackers—Total Video Cross-Platform Planning System and Video Metrix—that will make the identification of NHT even more crucial for the Reston, Va., company.

According to comScore global marketing SVP Anne Hunter, the verification of human activity is integral to the gross rating point (GRP) of marketers on television. Explaining the process to AdExchanger in an article yesterday, she said that "marketers who are accustomed to buying television [ads] look for an equivalent measurement to analyze their digital campaigns."

Noting Mdot's analytics capabilities, Hunter insists that the upcoming acquisition will strengthen comScore’s standing amongst TV advertisers because her company will now be able to offer them "a human GRP equivalent."

Improvements in analytics and tracking have prompted scammers to develop more devious methods. Yarnall, for instance, has witnessed an increase in fraudulent activity on cloud-based servers, where the potential for damage could spread across site hosts and networks.

Long before contemplating its new acquisition, comScore studied patterns from millions of Internet users to distinguish online human behavior from NHT. Earlier this year, the company’s metrics were adopted by Yahoo as a measurement tool for ad campaigns.