The Rubicon Project has acquired SiteScout in a further bid to build out its publisher-side tech platform.
Los Angeles-based Rubicon plans to provide SiteScout's software to publishers wary of passing on viruses to users through ads often carried via third-party ad networks. The company estimates that potential malware attacks via such placements risk $600 million in digital ad spending every month.
SiteScout's "virtual machines" mimic real users visiting Web pages in order to smoke out ads with malicious code and block them. The company is based in Seattle, and four employees will now join Rubicon.
At Rubicon, the company's technology will serve as the cornerstone of a new brand protection unit. Ad quality is a major concern for publishers when it comes to trusting third parties, including ad networks, with chunks of ad space, according to Craig Roah, COO of Rubicon. Passing along viruses to their users is seen as too much of a risk, he said.
"There are a lot of publishers who say, 'Do I want to play in this space?'" he added.
There have been a few high-profile attacks in recent months. Gawker fell prey to a malvertising barrage last October that originated from ads it sold directly to a scammer posing as a legitimate media buyer for Suzuki. In September, The New York Times ran an ad it later warned users not to click.
"We find threats early in the game," said Rob Lipschutz, CEO of SiteScout, who is now leading Rubicon's brand protection unit.
Rubicon has raised over $42 million to build publisher-side ad technology, including ad serving and network optimization.
Financial terms of the SiteScout deal were not disclosed.