Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Online bot fraud. And why it isn't.

There's a lot of nonsense being talked about by the defenders of traditional media against digital media. These are notably large TV broadcasters and stories appear in the magazine 'gospels', which are very much on Advertising's traditional side.

They cannot grasp that the world has changed and so find it hard to even contemplate, that digital media is winning.

Currently, they talk on and on and on about robot or 'bot' fraud.

This is where fraudsters use automated traffic to click, or view, online Ads as if they were humans, so as to generate fake cpm or ppc revenue. In other words, to charge advertisers for visitors which are in effect, computer viruses and not real traffic. Advertisers want to reach people, not automated, worthless clicks but, the argument goes, that's what they're getting.

'30% of all internet traffic is fake' screams one headline.

There's no doubt that these robots are sophisticated and mimic real human behaviour so as to avoid detection by equally sophisticated anti-fraud software. 

One Advertising 'bible' actually showed how these bots behave over an image of The New York Times....and then later, of course, said it didn't happen on The New York Times, it was just an 'example'. Like, 'Beware!' cause one day it might!

A fairly damaging 'example' I'd have thought.

Estimates of the costs of these fake Ads vary depending on the need for a panicy headline range from 7 million dollars a month to web security firm 'White Ops' saying 6 billion a year (but that's okay, cause 'White Ops' have the solution for you). 

Headline Money like that, certainly gets attention and creates panic. Maybe we should re-think digital? And move back to the good old reliable traditionals? Or so the story goes.

Online traffic fraud exists, there's no doubt - as does traditional advertising fraud. How often did traditional advertisers in the past depend on meaningless magazine 'publishers statements' or supposed 'print runs'? Or dubious 'bulking'?

Remember too, online fraud can be human as well - we all know about the ability to buy nonsensical Facebook 'likes' for example.

Online bot fraud depends on one of two things - a fraudulent traffic seller and/or a fraudulent web site owner. Mostly, both are complicit.

The fraudulent traffic seller is selling a network of "visitors" when in fact, they're probably bot infected PC's. The fraudulent website owner is selling you traffic based on fraudulent impressions generated by fake bots.

No media planner or buyer worth their salt are buying either. And if they are, knowing all about bots, then it's time for a change.

When you see a site like www.stuart'sfabcats.com generating 1 million impressions a day, chances are, they're fake. Or a seller in a basement selling massive traffic on a blind network, you're in trouble there too.

Trust in your digital buyer and the sites you're buying is key. Just as it is with traditional media. And to try to "expose" the whole medium as being fake because of some fraud, when you know people have a brain in their head in the business, is well, just what it's intended to be.

A ludicrous propaganda aimed at an advertising medium that's winning. Because it's better.