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Case Study

How STEP Network Protects Its Publisher Network From Malvertising

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Company

STEP Network is one of the largest digital advertising networks in the Nordics, ranging from National news sites to small niche sites and classifieds. The company operates more than 225,000,000 page views per month and reaches +80% of the Danish internet population. STEP Network is a growth partner to publishers. The company’s mission is to help publishers reach their goals concerning both monetization and keeping their sites/brands safe.

- Kim Skovgaards Jørgensen

Programmatic Lead, STEP Network
"Getting started with Malvertising Defense was like a dream. Since it was installed, we haven't had any issues at all. We have almost gotten to the point where we forgot the problem ever existed at all."

- Jekaterina Rogovenko

Programmatic Lead, STEP Network
“The best part about Malvertising Defense is how quickly and easily we can onboard new publisher sites. It takes about 10-15 seconds to install the script on our publisher websites, and they are instantly protected.”
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Challenge

In the summer of 2019, the STEP Network was hit with a wave of malicious redirect attacks that were so pervasive, the company’s AdOps team had to disable any advertisements that had the potential of being the entry point for attack. The disabled ads represented more than half of the company’s advertisements, and this ultimately resulted in them sacrificing a significant chunk of advertising revenue to preserve user experience while sorting out the problem.

Not only did STEP Network have to sacrifice revenue, but the AdOps team—about three full-time staff members—couldn’t focus on anything else during the attack. Every second of their time went to trying to find the problem and fix it.

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Solution

This situation left STEP Network’s AdOps team searching furiously for a solution that would end the problem once and for all. With the editorial staff concerned about the company’s vulnerability to future malicious ad campaigns, the AdOps team needed a 100% effective solution to resume typical ad operations.

The team landed on HUMAN’s Malvertising Defense because of these key features:
  • Easy Implementation: Previous solutions required STEP Network to be constantly monitoring and updating their protection, with various steps of implementation. A single line of code is all that’s required to implement Malvertising Defense. The solution runs seamlessly in the background, continuously updating without relying on traditional sandboxing and blocklist techniques.
  • Maintenance Free Operations: STEP Network’s AdOps teams were spending 100% of their time tracking down and removing bad ads. Malvertising Defense’s behavior-based approach to stops known and novel threats instantly, eliminating manual intervention and giving STEP Networks its time back.

RESULTS

Since that fateful day in the summer of 2019, STEP Network has transformed from a single website to a thriving publisher network of approximately 80 unique publishers. Malvertising Defense has become a vital part of its value proposition to publishers, as one of the many benefits of joining the company’s network is full-stop protection from malvertising. It makes the network that much more attractive to join and has improved the experience for every publisher in STEP Network.

The team at STEP has highlighted these key results:

  • Recovered Work Hours: Three team members were spending up to 120 hours a week battling bad ads. With Malvertising Defense’s maintenance-free, future-proof protection, that time can be refocused on business growth opportunities.
  • Full Stop Protection: Based on conversations the STEP Network team has had with colleagues across Denmark, major attack patterns happen regularly in approximately six month-cycles. But, the STEP Network team has felt precisely zero of them. 

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