Dealing with bot fraud as a publisher

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April 1, 2017
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As a publisher, your goal is to generate revenue with high-quality traffic that’s likely to generate leads and encourage conversions. It’s difficult to accomplish this goal if you’re dealing with bot fraud reports and potential sources of traffic that aren’t legitimate — meaning no chance of real conversions. Discrepancies between real traffic and bot traffic that aren’t detected right away can hurt a publisher’s credibility, especially when results aren’t what was expected based on the previously presented statistics. If you’re a publisher facing with this problem (and you’re not satisfied with being aware of the problem but you’d like to strike a counter-move as well), here’s what you can do and what you need to know.

Bot Traffic Is More Prevalent Than You May Think

According to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), nearly 40 percent of all Web traffic is fake, and it’s estimated that as much as 50 percent of publisher traffic may be bot-related. Plus, more than half of all online traffic comes from bots, and about 30 percent of that activity is from “bad bots.”

Bots that are generating false stats can cause several problems for publishers. First of all, if the stats you’re using to attract ad buyers to your sites aren’t an honest reflection of the activity on your websites, you’ll likely develop a reputation as someone to avoid. Secondly, you may not be able to justify your rates to new advertisers. Even if you do attract advertisers at your preferred rates, they’re not likely to stick with you if they’re not getting the expected ROI they should be getting based on stats affected by bots. Finally, you may lose data integrity, brand credibility, and respect within your industry.


Dig Deeper Into Your Fraud Reports 

The nature of your website or blog can give you an idea of how susceptible you may be to fraudulent activities from automated sources. Websites with the highest percentage of non-human behaviour are ones related to financial services, family, and food. Sites with the lowest percentage of bot-related activity are ones related to tech services, sports, and science. If you have websites with the type of content that tends to attract bots, be extra cautious and make sure you’re getting detailed reports for those sites so you spot questionable activity.

While it’s good to get reports that show fraudulent clicks, that info isn’t going to do you any good if you’re not identifying patterns. For instance, the report can show you which time of the day the bots are the most active on your various websites. In general, bots tend to be more active at night, especially between 11pm and 5am.

Identify Problems Before Google Does

Google announced that it will refuse to pay publishers caught serving fraudulent ad impressions. It’s one of several steps the search engine giant has been taking recently to spot signs of purposeful ad fraud. However, if it turns out that you had no personal knowledge of such activity, it can still be difficult to convince Google.

With detailed reports, however, you may be able to provide proof of the activities going on on your sites that you weren’t aware of until you discovered the problem. In some situations, Google may be able to see the evidence in your reports that you took steps to protect your sites after you became aware of the fake clicks or impressions.

Get Reports Offering Meaningful Details

If all you’re getting from your reports are basic numbers, i.e. how many fraudulent clicks you had without any further information or deeper insight, than this isn’t going to help you either. With nearly 5 billion daily bid requests made across multiple platforms, it’s easy to see why there is high chance of questionable stats. It also helps to see what’s going on behind the fraud-related data you’re getting since bots are adapting and getting better at hiding their actions.

Partner with a provider like and you’ll benefit from reports with very specific details of when most of the bad clicks occurred and what type of activities are linked to those clicks. You will also realise that fraudulent activity may not just be limited to bots alone. There are many different types of fraudulent activity that may harm your sites just as much as bots, including:

  • Ad Injection: Ads appear on your websites without your knowledge with plugins or browser extensions.
  • Ad Hiding: Additional ads are hidden underneath a legitimate one and extra impressions are generated for the other ones when someone clicks the visible ad.

Fraudulent ads cost the industry more than $5 billion annually. If you’re like most business owners, you probably have other obligations and priorities beyond constantly digging into your stats to identify possible sources of fraud. Fortunately, you have, an ad verification company with your needs in mind. In fact, we’re the only such company to offer end-to-end solutions for both publishers and advertisers looking to boost their bottom line, minimize their risk and make the whole supply chain transparent.

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