How to Outsmart the Bots


Digital fraud is on the rise and it is costing advertisers in a very big way. The Association of National Advertisers estimates that non-human online traffic cost advertisers $7.5M at the end of 2016. Other ad verification companies estimate that this number could be much higher – potentially billions of dollars.

In fact, CNBC estimates that businesses could lose $16.4 billion worldwide to online fraud in 2017.  And no, we are not talking about extraterrestrial traffic.  We are talking about bots, which waste about 20 percent of total digital ad spend. This online traffic fraud can come in the form of impression, click or conversion fraud.

Online advertising campaigns bought using automated or programmatic technology could see an increased level of digital fraud.  But, even buying directly from media suppliers could put you at risk.  So, how do you protect your media budget and the integrity of your analytics?

  1. Review your benchmarks and analytics regularly. Look for odd domain names and review irregular performance metrics like spikes in clicks, conversions, click-through rates, etc.
  2. And while we are on this topic, home in on your benchmarks and goals. Try to set goals outside of clicks and page views.  These can easily be skewed by fraudulent activity. Instead, measure KPIs such as time on site, engagement, etc.
  3. Choose your partners wisely. HMH partners with Sizmek ad service, which aids in ad verification and viewability. We also include IAB guidelines around compliance and privacy in all of our contracts. By doing so, we work to avoid fraudulency activity on the onset of a campaign and stop it in its tracks as soon as it crops up.  You should do the same.
  4. Work with media partners that you trust. (Or with an agency like HMH who has already made those connections for you).  HMH only works with vendors who are part of approved lists or are known sellers.

Now look at your media budget. Instead of chopping off 20% and throwing it away, take time today to employ some of these steps. Your budget will go further and your analytics reports will become much richer.  Happy media buying.