Measurement and Analysis of Traffic Exchange Services

TitleMeasurement and Analysis of Traffic Exchange Services
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsJaved M, Herley C, Peinado M, Paxson V
Published inProceedings of ICM Internet Measurement Conference
Date Published10/2015
KeywordsClick fraud, Impression fraud, Traffic exchanges

Traffic exchange services enable members to bring traffic to their websites from a diverse pool of IP addresses, in return for visiting sites of other members. We examine the world of traffic exchanges to characterize their makeup, usage, and monetization. We find that the ecosystem includes a range of services, from manual exchanges where participants must solve CAPTCHAs between successive page views, to exchanges that provide tools that automatically surf without requiring any user action. By “milking” a sample of these exchanges, we analyze month-long datasets to examine the nature of URLs that members submit to them. We find a wide prevalence of URLs for services that pay users in return for views to their content, and at least 30% of the requested impressions are for pages that clearly participate in a class of impression fraud called referrer spoofing. We also analyze the size and composition of a sample of these exchange networks by making purchases, finding that the exchanges delivered visits from roughly 200K unique IP addresses, and that in some exchange networks, the majority of visits came from cloud hosting services.

ICSI Research Group

Networking and Security