Qadabra Malware or Legit Review

Qadabra Ad Network invited us to join their publisher network for display ads and pop ups.

We get so many requests for publisher networks that it’s hard to separate the legit from fakes. The first phase of review seemed to produce favorable results. The email invitation comes from an actual person with an actual mail address and phone number. I was able to search and find enough information about that person (Linked In page, Facebook, etc…) to believe that they are a legit company. Additionally, their website and community discussion groups suggest they are a good alternative or supplement to Google’s Adsense Network.

The signup process was painless and our account was promptly approved. The approval process is supposedly manually reviewed.

Here’s the Rub…
We added Qadabra to our DPF DoubleClick for Publishers Ad Server and included some tags for initial placement. The creatives tested ok, although a red flag went up as we saw the blinking media download variety that was so popular a few years back. We reasoned that this was temporary as the network would learn our inventory and tailor appropriate ads for it.

DFP Cries Malware!
Just a few minutes after implementing the tags we received a warning email from DFP. Actually, in our 6 years of working with DFP, this was the first time we’ve seen this type of correspondence.

I am clipping some of the email for sake of brevity:

Open immediately: Malvertising notification for…


Our system has detected activity which may violate Google policies in one or more of your DoubleClick for Publishers line items. The reasons are listed below:

To ensure the safety and security of our users, we’ve disapproved your ad because we’ve determined that your ad hosts or distributes malicious software.

Although certain bad advertisers may intentionally distribute malicious software, there are many cases where the webmaster or advertiser is unaware of the dangerous link because:

Order: Qadabra (ID=294986568)

The good news, as far as I can tell, is that DFP’s detection system works! They caught the intruder before sending impressions to our users.

I’ll follow up if any additional information becomes relevant.



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