Bots are causing you to make bad business decisions

Businesses are making bad decisions because bad bots are tampering with their data
2 October 2018 | 22 Shares

Are you sure your customer data is reliable? Source: Shutterstock

Bad bots are wreaking havoc on your business. Every conceivable online customer touch point – whether it be websites, mobile apps, APIs – are vectors of attack for bots.

While bots can be used to help automate processes, bad bots are interrupting good customer traffic, committing fraud, and stealing information.

In fact, advertisers globally lost about US$6.5 billion in 2017 due to bot fraud, according to research by the Association of National Advertisers.

To add insult to injury, bots are also skewing the data that companies use for decision making. For example, data used by marketing or customer experience professionals to track user behavior, which is crucial for improving customer journeys and buying advertising.

Manipulated data can lead to bad decisions and become extremely costly to the company. It is therefore paramount for companies to mitigate these risks before they impact business decisions.

In a blog post by Forrester Principal Analyst Amy DeMartine, she detailed the different types of bad bots that are affecting businesses today.

Sneakerbots

These are bots that abuse the checkout systems, by hoarding inventory for reselling. This is especially prevalent during high demand sneaker releases, where bots quickly snatch up goods before human buyers are able to access them.

The products often get resold at an inflated price after. Sneaker bots can be bought for as low as US$10, with some of the more sophisticated options going for US$500.

Adbots

Some bots can mimic humans, to give the illusion that certain sites or advertisements are getting more traffic than the actual number.

While this doesn’t sound that disastrous for website owners who want more traffic, it costs advertisers a huge amount of money.

For example, in one of the largest ad fraud operations, advertisers paid “Methbot” US$3–5 million per day for “viewing” their ads.

Web scraping

Web-scrapers are used by many aggregations or price comparison websites.

It scrapes data from various sources and presents it on a single platform. However, some web scrapers can gather data to steal intellectual property, or to plagiarise content.

In some cases, it can even collect data from the website’s search tools, such as when bots scraped Facebook search tools and obtained identities and information on 2 billion users.

Influence-fraud bots

The most cunning of the lot, influence-fraud bots sway the data collected by companies used to make decisions.

For instance, a retail site which relies on product rating scores to make decisions on promotions or discounts can be misled by what they deem to be customer demand. False data presented on the site can also sway customer decisions leading them to make poor purchases.

Technologies are available for companies to mitigate these risks. Apart from identifying and understanding the kind of bots available and how they behave, companies need to look at having a good bot management system.

Bot management solutions can differentiate between malicious bots, good bots, and human visitors, then manage or block their traffic accordingly.

Most automated threats are carried out by malicious bots. It’s imperative that businesses detect and prevent any further traffic.

This will improve site performance, reduced resource consumption, and most importantly provide businesses with good data that can help grow their business.