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Learn How Factinate Discovered A Malvertising Problem (And Solved It Without Sacrificing Revenue)

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About Factinate

Born out of a love for trivia, documentaries, and out-doing friends' general random knowledge, Factinate is a general knowledge website dedicated to writing and publishing articles about relevant and interesting facts. The company’s goal is to write engaging facts about every topic that interests them and their readers.

Currently, Factinate writes articles about animals, famous and/or inspiring people, automotive and vehicle technology, healthcare, pop culture (movies, TV, etc.), geographies (countries, cities, etc.), and science.

A Hidden Problem

In the first year of our business, before we had cleanAD, we were just getting killed by bad ads. It would happen every three days. We'd get attacked and our session length would be cut in half, our viewability rates will drop, and our CPMs would plummet. 

We would go from being profitable to losing tons and tons of money. It was really painful. I would say in the first year, it wouldn't surprise me if bad ads cost us a couple hundred thousand dollars. It was really, really damaging.

          - Joshua Mendelssohn, Co-founder, Factinate.com

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Factinate’s content comes in the shape of long-form blogs, so the team keeps a sharp eye on their metrics to see how long users are spending on each page. As you may know, ad revenue and session lengths are closely tied. The more time a user spends on your page, the more opportunities there are for ad impressions. So when Factinate’s bounce rates suddenly started to inexplicably rise, they started to have some concerns. 

Facebook comments spoke about pop-ups and Amazon gift card redirects. That's when we knew that there were bad ads. But we are also very data-focused. We were looking at changes in session and bounce rates every single day, article by article. So we definitely saw that something was wrong, and then the comments pointed us in the right direction.

          - Jeff Myers, Co-founder, Factinate.com

If it wasn’t for this approach, the Factinate team might not have ever found the correct solution to their spiking bounce rates. 

You're always on the back end of your site when you're writing content, but the only way you're going to see these bad ads is if you're on your site surfing. When we started to see these comments about malicious ads, and saw session length drop off, we actually got on our phones and started going through articles to try  and find out what was happening. It was then that we got hit with pop-ups.

          - Joshua Mendelssohn, Co-founder, Factinate.com

Factinate found itself under attack at least three days every week before implementing the cleanAD script. Their own experience with fighting malvertising led them to conclude that publishers that aren’t running cleanAD, or a similar product, are more than likely experiencing bad ads without realizing it. 

Your metrics may be consistent, but that doesn't mean you aren't being attacked, Joshua and Jeff told us. If you feel like something fishy is happening (or just want to do some good housekeeping), spend some time on the front end of your site and see if any malicious ads appear. 

Or better yet, check out the cleanAD free trial and see the difference it will make on your site metrics. 

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You should try running the cleanAD script. It's just a simple line of code. Just plug and play and see if this problem continues to happen once it’s been installed. It typically doesn't.

          - Joshua Mendelssohn, Co-founder, Factinate.com

A Clean Solution (And Hitting Malvertisers Where It Hurts)

When Factinate finally launched with cleanAD, they found it to be a “complete solution” to their malvertising pains.

And most importantly, what made cleanAD the best solution was the ability to still get paid from malvertisers while blocking their malicious attacks.

There are other solutions out there that block malicious advertising, but you're not actually going to get paid for those impressions. But with cleanAD, you just block the creative, so you're still getting paid by the malicious advertiser. This puts them into a negative ROI position and they're going to stop targeting your site. That's what you see with probing attacks in the cleanAD dashboard. They just stopped probing our site because it's not worth it.

It's obviously an effective deterrent.

          - Jeff Myers, Co-founder, Factinate.com

What To Look Out For

Factinate’s long-form content made it easy for them to notice an increase in bounce rates. They were accustomed to users staying on a page for up to ten minutes at a time, so when they were suddenly jumping ship just a few minutes in, they knew there was a problem. And luckily, they had their readers to give them some insight into what the issue could have been.

Anything more than a 10% drop in session length signifies that something is wrong. And I'd say anything about 20% would be something you would definitely want to take a close look at. When we were getting bad ads, it was as much as 50%. A lot of publishers have the same problems with these malicious ads being played, and cleanAD completely solves that problem.

          - Jeff Myers, Co-founder, Factinate.com

Going Above and Beyond.

At clean.io, we make it our priority to be readily available to all of our clients. We pride ourselves on the attention and care we are able to provide.

“There’s so much passion. You guys have helped us with so much stuff that has nothing to do with your job at all. We recently had an advertiser that was misbehaving. It wasn't a malicious ad, just someone serving a really big ad that was covering text. And anytime we email Kathy, she's always on it right away. You guys just go above and beyond, constantly.”

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Jeff Myers
Co-Founder, Factinate

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