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General Response To Recent Articles Alleging Malware On the Propeller Ads Network

Propeller Ads is one of the Internet’s largest advertising networks and has, for years, served advertisements online for the world’s largest brands on countless websites of every form. For nearly a decade, Propeller Ads has operated a platform that connects publishers with advertisers and does everything in its power, as explained below, to make sure all advertisements that it helps advertisers place comply with industry standards and applicable law in the best interest of internet users, the advertisers, and the publishers.

However, recently, two authors published reports alleging that Propeller Ads has been implicated in a scheme to serve malware to users who view advertisements served through its network. The allegations against Propeller Ads in these reports are, at their heart, false and libelous.

To understand why the allegations are false, first we must explain what exactly Propeller Ads does.

Propeller Ads is a general-purpose self-serve advertising network that helps connect advertisers with publishers. When an advertiser wants to get its advertisements onto the internet, it can use Propeller Ads’ automated network to find websites that are willing to publish advertisements. The automated network helps the publishers set up methods for advertisements to bid for spaces on the publishers’ websites and, when an advertiser purchases advertising space, the network serves the advertisements provided by the advertiser to the publisher.

Through this network, Propeller Ads acts as nothing more than an automated intermediary to help advertisers find the best publishers to publish their advertisements, and to help publishers to get the greatest utilization out of their advertising space. Propeller Ads is not involved in the creation of the advertisements or the operation of the publishers.

And because of the incredible value that Propeller Ads brings in connecting advertisers with publishers, Propeller Ads has become one of the most popular advertising networks on the internet, helping serve over 10,000 new advertising campaigns each week. It is this very ecosystem of advertising networks, like the one operated by Propeller Ads, that allows the Internet as we know it exist.

Propeller Ads does not endorse, support, or encourage any malicious advertisement on its network. More to the point, Propeller Ads has a strict policy of forbidding advertisers from using the network to help advertise or distribute viruses, malware, or other unlawful or damaging content, and has implemented measures to limit this kind of content.

However, the very nature of this system, and its incredible popularity, also make it impossible to police every single advertising campaign, despite Propeller Ads taking every reasonable step, and implementing state-of-the-art technological methods, to prevent abusive uses of the network. Despite these earnest efforts, like with any other network of this kind, some bad actors do manage to get through Propeller Ads’ security systems and procedures for short periods of time until they can be tracked down and removed.

Notwithstanding the false allegations and insinuations of the authors of the reports, Propeller Ads does not work with these bad actors, does not turn a blind-eye to these bad actors, and in fact has implemented various legal and technological means to prohibit, catch, and terminate these bad actors when they are found. For those more technically inclined, Propeller Ads has put together a more in-depth response to the allegations made by the authors here. But in short, Propeller Ads takes the following non-exclusive measure with regards to bad actors on its network:

  1. Propeller Ads has implemented technical procedures and systems to anticipate and detect unlawful or malicious activities on or through its network, which can detect robots, scripts, spiders, adware, malware, viruses, phishing offers, trojans and more, including malicious activities that use cloaking methods and other tricks. This system is what keeps nearly 100% of advertisements served through Propeller Ads safe and secure. Propeller Ads has systems in place to protect users, publishers, and advertisers.
  2. For the tiny fraction of a percent of advertisements or publisher websites that contain malware that get through Propeller Ads’ technological measures, Propeller Ads has implemented a notice and takedown procedure that allows any person to report suspected malicious activity, which Propeller Ads acts on promptly. As part of that response, Propeller Ads requires the suspected advertiser or publisher to prove their innocence or they are removed from the platform. And when Propeller Ads receives notification or orders from law enforcement or courts, it acts on them immediately.
  3. From the legal perspective, Propeller Ads requires all publishers and advertisers to comply in all respects with its Terms and Conditions, which can be found at https://propellerads.com/terms/. The Terms and Conditions include a comprehensive list of prohibited activities on behalf of both publishers and advertisers, require them to provide wide-ranging representations and warranties, and subject them to significant liability in the event of their breach of the Terms and Conditions.

Based on all of the foregoing, Propeller Ads denies the false and libelous allegations made by the authors in their articles, including the wholly baseless implication that Propeller Ads intentionally or knowingly works with bad actors who spread malware. Propeller Ads does not desire to work with bad actors, does not “look the other way” with respect to bad actors, and when it learns that any bad actors are operating on its network it takes swift action against them.

Further detailed and technical responses to the allegations can be found here.