Bots are an ugly part of life for any organization doing business online. There are armies of them, crawling and clicking on ads, creating huge volumes of fake traffic.
Advertisers lost an estimated $19 billion as a result bot fraud in 2018, according to Juniper Research (via Which-50.com). That’s the equivalent to $51 million a day.
With bots everywhere (and multiplying quickly), advertisers and online businesses alike must stand up and take note. No doubt it will take sophisticated ad technology and proven traffic-cleansing techniques to prevent bots from taking over, but there is something digital advertisers can do right now to buck the system.
No, we’re not talking about using a shady black hat work-around. We’re talking about a tried and true strategy that will bypass bots and save an advertising campaign from a sinking ROI.
More on this later. But first, some specifics.
The Deal With Bot Traffic
Bot traffic is a form of online ad fraud in which a nefarious individual or group of individuals uses automated software and scripts to drive artificial impressions or clicks. Normally, web traffic involves a visit from a human. With bot traffic, however, non-human computers trigger ad impressions and click ads; thus, costing advertisers big bucks.
How Digital Ad Fraud Costs Advertisers Big Bucks
Bot traffic costs advertisers money in several ways.
If you promote your website on a pay-per-click (PPC) platform like Google AdWords, for instance, a competitor may drive up your advertising costs by sending bot traffic to your ads. Because they aren’t human visitors, bots won’t generate conversions or otherwise improve your return on investment (ROI). They will, however, inflate your advertising costs.
If you advertise on a cost-per-impression (CPM) platform, bot traffic can also cost your money. The websites on which CPM ads are displayed typically earn revenue based on impressions. As a result, some corrupt publishers will purchase bot traffic to inflate their impressions and earn more money. This is bad news for the advertiser who created the ad because he or she pays for low-quality bot traffic.
Signs You’ve Been Blasted by Bots
There are a few tell-tale signs of bot traffic, which one of which is an unusually high click-through rate (CTR) or impression count.
If your PPC ads suddenly have a 50 percent or higher CTR, you might be receiving bot traffic. Alternatively, generating 50,000 ad impressions on a website or channel that usually generates just 2,000 to 3,000 impressions could be a sign of bot traffic.
Scouring through your website logs can also reveal bot traffic. Assuming you have Google Analytics installed, check metrics like bounce rate and average view time. Bots typically visit the site and immediately leave, resulting in a high bounce rate and low view time.
Beating online ad fraud, while complex, can be done. And quite easily too.
The process begins by harnessing the power of offline data.
We rely on a product called GeoDirect. It’s a patented IP targeting software that matches physical addresses with IP addresses offline, enabling advertisers to deliver their messages with surgical precision to the right person, at the right time.
Rather than casting a wide net over a targeted demographic or geographic location, and allowing the bot armies to attack, GeoDirect ad campaigns are directly targeted and delivered to predetermined households and audiences.
An ad campaign that’s launched under the helm of GeoDirect delivers results that speak (and pay) for themselves.
Did we mention that GeoDirect is also connected to all the major ad networks, and can deliver ads like:
Beating online ad fraud, like any other process for solving a complex problem, is an activity that involves constant analysis and learning from previous experiences. Using a disciplined methodology, like GeoDirect, with specific data parameters and corrective measures can help bypass bot traffic and give online businesses reassurance that they are getting their money’s worth.