Businesses spend considerable sums of money to build their brands, advertise their products and/ or services, or provide information that persuades potential customers to take a closer look. Advertisers expect their ad spend to generate real impressions, but it’s well established now that more than half of all web traffic is generated by bots—the good ones as well as the bad.
The first generation of bots used to originate from data centers whose IP addresses were fairly well known, and hence easy to filter out. Then came the advent of botnets, spread by malware that infected millions of personal computers to perform widespread coordinated attacks on their targets. Bot behavior has evolved by design to become more human-like, making detection and filtration technically more difficult.
Advertisers aim to reduce their vulnerabilities to bad bots that perform illegal activities ranging from ad fraud and content scraping to carding attacks and price scraping, to name a few. But first, they need to know how much of a bot problem they really have on their hands.
ShieldSquare’s research shows that a campaign is more vulnerable to malicious bots when certain conditions are met. Let’s take a brief look at some of the key signs advertisers need to look out for:
1. Check for any unusual traffic patterns such as:
a. A spike in overnight clicks and impressions.
b. Most web users tend to sleep during the night, but bot percentages tend to spike at night.
2. Watch out for traffic during peak seasons.
a. Peak seasons such as Thanksgiving and Christmas have spikes in human traffic.
b. Bots intensify their activity over the holiday season so that they can be under the radar and take advantage of higher advertising spends during this period.
3. Suppliers that are not transparent in their measures to stop ad fraud.
a. Ask your suppliers what they are doing about ad fraud, and validate their claims.
b. If they are not being transparent, it’s a sign that bot traffic is seeping through and impacting your ROI.
4. A drop in purchases or form fills.
a. If some campaigns are not providing the desired results, bots might be the culprit. Watch out for non-performing campaigns and see if there is a pattern to them.
b. Poor performance may be related to a few affiliates, publishers, and audience extension providers. Review these relationships and take corrective actions.
5. Impression rates remain unchanged despite using an ‘Invalid Traffic’ detection solution.
a. When advertisers implement security measures such as script flagging and IP blacklisting, overall traffic should reduce. But when impression rates stay roughly constant, it’s quite likely that bots are stepping up their activity.
b. This implies that advertisers need a dedicated bot mitigation solution that can detect sophisticated bot signatures.
For more information on how ShieldSquare can protect advertisers from digital ad fraud, please contact us for a free demo or sign up for a free trial