Bots are still plaguing adtech – but the war’s being won

Fraud attempts total up to 20 to 35 percent of all ad impressions – costing advertisers huge amounts of money – yet sophisticated measures are now in place to tackle the problem.
15 May 2020

Brands pour millions into advertising each year. Source: Shutterstock

  • The digital marketing software (DMS) is projected to grow up to US$75 billion by 2022
  • Digital campaigns are plagued with fake impressions caused by fraud bots
  • CMOs are now tasked with the challenge of combating fraud bots

Big data and analytics have empowered CMOs and their teams in tracking trends, understanding their target audiences, and essentially, providing quantitative measures on how effective their campaigns were.

In-depth insights on consumer demographics, engagement rates, and conversion rates provide marketers enhanced visibility in the customer journey. Unsurprisingly, the market for digital marketing software (DMS) is predicted to hit US$75 billion by 2022, according to MarketsandMarkets. 

Even though the digitization of marketing bears a suite of benefits across industries, all online campaigns face a hidden and common enemy — fraudulent bots or ‘bot fraud’. 

Bot fraud involves criminals setting up networks of fake sites, creating bots to drive a large number of phony impressions which exploit the programmatic ad-bidding ecosystem to make money from ads that no one sees.

Based on a report by White Ops and the Association of National Advertisers, fraud attempts total up to 20 to 35 percent of all ad impressions – costing advertisers huge amounts of money – yet sophisticated and cutting edge measures are now in place to tackle these fake impressions. 

But progress is being made in this fight, as the cases of fake impressions have been decreasing, if only very gradually. 

The report revealed that fake display advertising impressions have dropped to eight percent, from nine percent in 2017, while fake video ads were spotted to fall from 22 percent to 14 percent. 

Bob Liodice, CEO of ANA, said: “The decrease in ad fraud suggests that the war on fraud is winnable.

“Less fraud means more resources can be devoted to brand and business building.”

On this note, it is essential to recognize not only the economic loss caused by ad fraud but also a misdirection and inaccurate representation of digital ad metrics and reception by target consumers.  

There may not be a straight forward solution that can eliminate fraud bots altogether, but emerging technologies and strategic marketing plans can help bring down this shady side of the ad ecosystem. 

CMOs will benefit by evolving their marketing strategies with combating fraud bots in mind. Staying up to date to the latest development of fraud bot cases and also solutions to address this issue is fundamental. It can go a long way to optimize digital campaigns.

It also pays for marketers to be vigilant and skeptical of any performance which looks “too good to be true”. For instance, a mismatched between open and clickthrough rates on email campaigns is a visible sign of possible fraud bot intervention. 

Marketing leaders can delve deeper into examining the habits and key characteristics of fraud bots by analyzing a user session and comparing a visitor’s behavior with a bot’s.

Mass insights collected through these sessions can empower organizations to be more attuned to the behavior of fraud bots and flag suspicious activities with more efficiency.

In a bigger picture, marketing teams can track campaigns more likely to be targeted by fraud bots and proceed to take extra measures to prevent fake traffic and impressions. 

Interestingly CMOs adept at evolving cybersecurity trends will gain an extra advantage by integrating their knowledge to win the war against fraud bots.