Ad Bots are the hidden menace for display advertisers, where it is estimated that around $7.2 billion or 29% of display budgets will be wasted globally on Ad Bots.
Cyber criminals who are either gangs or individual hackers create these bots as an easy way of making money through fraudulent traffic. By connecting their sites with ad networks they can quickly rake in millions of dollars with some lines of code. This fraud is enabled by a lack of transparency and sophistication in the automated display buying arena makes it very difficult for advertisers to easily identify the fraud.
The cyber criminals use a number of different techniques to generate fake impressions and steal money from display advertisers, the most common include:
· Impression Fraud is where impressions are sold on fake websites or shown on hidden browsers that run in the background or served into invisible 1x1 pixels.
· Ad Injection / Adware is where software is downloaded to a users computer or browser without there knowledge and then injects ads onto other sites or windows in the browser
· Retargeting Fraud are bots that are created to mimic specific users and are then served ads.
· Finally is audience extension fraud where publishers buy traffic from third party vendors who them direct bot traffic to the publishers
All types of display buying is hit with ad fraud however; the more expensive the inventory the more likely fraud will take places. According to studies by ANA and WhiteOps, price was not an indication of quality with display ads that cost over $10 CPM are 1.4x more likely to be seen by bots than ads with CPM below $10. While video campaigns with CPM rates above $15 are almost 2.75x likely to be seen by bots than CPM rates less than $15.
To mitigate bot traffic, we always recommend working closely with your agency, DSPs, Ad Networks and Premium placement partners. Having a sensible conversation around the fact bot traffic exists and how collaboratively you will identify and resolve it is the first step. We also believe that data beats opinion and getting forensic on your ad serving logs and publisher reports to understand what is happening will help you identify the bot traffic. Using this data to identify the bot traffic means you can optimize your campaigns and arrange ad rebates where necessary.
So stop stressing about Ad Blockers and start worrying about the Ad Fraud Bots instead!