Over the past couple of weeks, internet users have been complaining of a new wave of hard-to-close, misleading, and malicious ads popping across websites big and small. Some of the ads even make it impossible for people to read news and other content by redirecting browsers to spammy sites or popping up mobile app store pages for undesired software.
Many social media posts lamented that even top-tier publishers like The New York Times and The Atlantic were willing to run such intrusive ads on their sites. But experts say the problem isn’t with lack of discernment on the part of site publishers but with an extremely complex online advertising system that makes it hard for publishers involved to detect, let alone weed out, misleading and malware-laden ads.
“Over the past two years, we have seen the amount of malware and mobile redirects, which might lead to malware, roughly double in the digital ad ecosystem,” says Chris Olson, CEO of The Media Trust, a McLean, Virginia company that provides security services to ad providers and online publishers.