In a move to breed a safer environment for its advertisers and reduce online fraud, Google has acquired Spider.io, a three-year-old firm that works to preserve the quality of advertising metrics.

Google has been on the forefront of the movement to curb online advertising fraud from the early days of the industry. The company has invested in technology and talent to prevent fraud and drive greater accountability online. Spider.io is another move on that front. Financial terms of the Spider.io deal were not disclosed

Video, Display Ads Targeted

“Our immediate priority is to include their fraud detection technology in our video and display ads products, where they will complement our existing efforts,” said Neal Mohan, vice president of Display Advertising at Google’s DoubleClick. “Over the long term, our goal is to improve the metrics that advertisers and publishers use to determine the value of digital media and give all parties a clearer, cleaner picture of what campaigns and media are truly delivering strong results. Also, by including Spider.io’s fraud fighting expertise in our products, we can scale Relevant Products/Services our efforts to weed out bad actors and improve the entire digital ecosystem.”

Mohan took a moment to shout out to other industry players working against ad fraud, including the Internet Advertising Bureau’s Traffic of Good Intent (TOGI) task force, which he said also plays a critical role in the effort.

“As an industry, we can address this issue and block those who seek to game the system Relevant Products/Services,” Mohan said.

Removing All Doubt

We caught up with Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, to get his take on the acquisition. He told us Google's efforts are clearly intended to catch click fraud and boost advertiser confidence in the system.

“Google has an interest in deterring, catching and punishing -- if possible -- the sources of fraudulent clicks so that it can ensure its advertisers are being fairly charged,” Sterling said.

“Things like displays ads that don't appear when and where they should and the use of bots to generate clicks have cast doubt on the integrity and value of online ads in some instances. Fraud is a shadow that hangs over digital media in ways that it does not with traditional media.”

At the same time, digital media has been subject to much more scrutiny regarding ROI (return on investment) than traditional media. Because online ad traffic can be tracked more precisely than television commercials or magazine ads, and because interested viewers can immediately click to take more action or purchase online, advertisers have continued to shift advertising dollars consistently toward online media.