Terminator 6: Rise of the fake view count

Ad fraud, once a dirty little secret, has become a hot topic of debate, and rightly so.

A study carried out by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) predicts that advertisers will lose $7.2 billion due to nonhuman digital traffic.  Unfortunately as the digital spend continues to grow the amount of money lost is only going to increase.

So it’s clear that something needs to be done, but what? The bots that create the non human traffic aren’t half man half human, they don’t have a physical form, they can’t be destroyed. In other words terminator would be an easier prospect.

The issue has been highlighted and some advertisers are trying to tackle the problem. However, it’s disheartening to read the findings from a survey based on 49 ANA members, that in 2015 advertisers had a range of bot percentages varying from 3 to 37%, compared with 2 to 22% twelve months earlier.

Bob Liodice, ANA president and CEO, said to tackle the problem, “the entire marketing ecosystem needs to manage their media investments with far greater discipline and control against a backdrop of increasingly sophisticated fraudsters.”

It’s been glum reading so far, but there is light at the end of the tunnel! Last summer tech big dogs like Facebook and Yahoo, to name but a few, forged a giant blacklist to block fake web traffic contributing to advertising fraud. The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) pilot program nix’s bot traffic using a blacklist which could cut a significant portion of web traffic; Google’s DoubleClick blacklist alone blocked some 8.9 per cent of traffic.

This is all good and well, kudos to the big boys. But if you really want to succeed in minimising ad fraud and win the game with strong the engagement stats, then you need to create content that captivates the imagination and produces an emotive response.

So to finish with the words of Kyle Reese, “Non human traffic bots can’t be reasoned with, can’t be bargained with. They don’t feel pity, remorse or fear, and they absolutely will not stop. Ever. Un till your dead.” Apart from the death bit, Kyle’s right, ad fraud isn’t going to end! We can however attempt to tackle the problem head on and reduce its effectiveness.

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