Integral Ad Science

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Integral Ad Science
Formerly
AdSafe Media
Type
Private
IndustryAdvertising
Founded2009; 12 years ago (2009)
FounderWill Luttrell, Helene Monat, Foster Provost, Bryan St. John, Josh Attenberg, Kent Wakeford
Headquarters
New York
,
United States
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Lisa Utzschneider (CEO)
ProductsMarketer's Edge, Trader's Edge, Seller's Edge
Frustrated stallman cropped.jpg

Integral Ad Science (IAS) is an American privately owned corporation who claims to be a "global market leader in digital ad verification". They aren't and they don't verify anything, even though they try, due to their gross technological incompetence.

The "ias-va/3.1" Web Crawler

Integral Ad Science has a web crawler called "ias-va/3.1" that will try to visit web pages with advertisements on them in order to analyze them to see if there are issues such around fraud, viewability or brand risk. This is done by a crawler that identifies itself as:

ias-va/3.1 (+https://www.admantx.com/service-fetcher.html)

The URL their crawler advertises, https://www.admantx.com/service-fetcher.html, returns a HTTP code 404 Not Found message as of April 2021. Having a page explaining what a bot does would both be police and competent.

The ias-va/3.1 will consistently only try to load the lowercase version of the URLs it is supposed to "verify".

The URL for this page would be https://linuxreviews.org/Integral_Ad_Science. The ias-va/3.1 will, for whatever reason, only try to fetch this page as https://linuxreviews.org/integral_ad_science. That URL does not exist. The MediaWiki software we use will always try to redirect URLs starting with a lowercase letter to the same URL starting with a upper-case letter, so /integral_ad_science gets redirected to /Integral_ad_science - which does not exist. The result is that the ias-va/3.1 bots encounters a 301 redirect on the first hit to any page on this site and a 404 not found on the second.

The result of the isa-va/3.1 bot being written by incompetent morons who think every file on the web is all lower-case like it is still the 1980s is that the isa-va/3.1 bot does not actually verify anything beyond the simple fact that the developers who wrote that piece of trash are incompetent blundering morons.

Potential Solutions

Advertisers have a good solution to the gross incompetence of the Integral Ad Science corporation: Don't use them. Just stop using them if you do, and don't forget to demand a refund for any fees you have already paid them for their garbage data since their data is, probably, pure garbage.

Webmasters/publishers do not have any no good solutions to the gross incompetence at the Integral Ad Science corporation. If you are seeing a lot of 404 errors from their garbage bot then you have three not so great options:

  • You can add a .htaccess rule blocking access based on their bots user-agent (ias-va/3.1 and/or admantx). This solution is not that great since it will probably give the customers their report their garbage data to some kind of warning. Those customers will probably get a warning anyway since their bot doesn't produce anything other than garbage data even if you don't block their piece of garbage web crawler.
  • You could add firewall rules that -j DROP all the IP addresses their bot originates from. This is not a all that great solution since they use several different sub-nets. Listing them all is just a matter of grepping the logs for a while, so it is doable but it isn't as easy as adding a .htaccess rule.
  • You can make every single page on your site redirect from a lower-case version of the URL to a working URL. This would of course take a lot of work, and it is completely unfeasible if there is no such functionality built into the CMS your site is using.

This will do the trick if you decide to prevent their broken garbage crawler using .htaccess:

RewriteCond  "%{HTTP_USER_AGENT}" ias-va [OR,NC]
RewriteCond  "%{HTTP_USER_AGENT}" admantx
RewriteRule   "^"  "-"  [F,L]

You will have to decide for yourself if having a rule like that is a good idea or not. It is not needed if all the URls on your site are lowercase. It may be a good idea if most of your URLs are mixed-case, but it could have a negative impact if you use things like Google AdSense. It probably won't since their useless piece of trash bot will interpret all your links as broken anyway.


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