Well, isn't that interesting? I read techrunch maybe a few times a month when I have a few minutes to spare, but this took more than a few minutes.http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/19/new-chameleon-botnet-could-be-costing-advertisers-up-to-6-million-a-month/http://www.cnet.com/news/chameleon-botnet-takes-6-million-a-month-in-ad-money/
Bots are getting smarter. Oddly enough, a large number of the sites listed in the article linked below (dated March 19th), appear not to be found when you try to visit the links. Or if they are found, there aren't any ads appearing on them - a few have blank spaces, but not ads.
What's worse, is that some of the sites listed as these "ghost publisher sites" seem to be sort of okay - perhaps not okay in terms of AdSense quality, but if a visitor goes there, they wouldn't really notice anything too wrong with them.
The one thing the article mentions is that Google seems to be one of the few providing networks that has the least amount of problems - at least of the type mentioned in the article.
The other thing they say mention is that AppNexus says it's staying on top of the issue too, but I honestly don't know about that. AppNexus is one of the advertisers I blocked a long time ago, and I've blocked any other network that works with AN (like "X Advertiser with Appnexus) because typically, I've found the AppNexus ads produced a lot of errors on my site, or weird behaviour from their ads.
Anyway, in terms of the issues we've been seeing with ad performance lately, this article is fairly interesting reading.
And this other article notes that the botnet is using a lot of hacked windows machines, the majority in the US:http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/mar/19/botnet-costing-advertisers-6m-dollars-chameleon
I wonder how many people who really only use advertising as "pocket change" ever look at this sort of thing? I'd guess the majority of casual bloggers probably don't pay much attention to the ad world in general, except to look at how much they've made in any given week.
I'm pretty casual about most of it, not moving much to market outside of the two advertisers I use right now, but I'm not so casual that I don't read the ad news from time to time.
What you can learn might be a lot more relevant than you'd think, even for casual users.
The botnet issue isn't new, as some of the articles date from 2013, but the changes in it's behaviour over the last year are notable.