A recent survey by Distil Networks highlighted where their analysis saw the largest originators of bot traffic that contributes to traffic fraud. On their top 20 list for bad bots were cloud computing providers such as Amazon Web Services (#4) and SoftLayer (#16).

The ad-tech industry has dramatically increased its focus on reducing both traffic and inventory fraud. Mezzobit has seen the impact of this in our tag-scanning platform, which monitors the situation in two ways. Our customers embed Mezzobit’s scanning technology within their websites, which permits us to both analyze visitor patterns (using anonymized data with no tracking) as well as tags that are loaded in “chains” or waterfalls (where one tag loads another). Our Instant Scan platform does this from the outside for a smaller number of pageviews.

In the early days of Instant Scan, we noticed a marked difference in page tag populations when we scanned from cloud-based browsers versus browsers that were using normal desktop machines on non-data-center ISP connections. This makes sense, as other than legitimate proxies, VPNs, and a few other limited applications, human traffic should not originate from the cloud. This caused Mezzobit to move exclusively to non-cloud machines for Instant Scan.

We did a quick study this week to revisit the topic and found that cloud browsers saw 20-25% fewer tags and vendors, but still loaded a fair number of ad-tech calls. Full results can be found here.