Campaigns can pay a premium to avoid bot traffic, but should carefully monitor their impressions to help ensure voters are viewing their ads, according to a panel of experts.
Bots are plaguing the digital advertising industry. In some cases, as much as half a website’s traffic is coming from bots.
It’s a costly problem: Advertisers stand to lose $6.3 billion in 2015 to bots, according to one study. Still, if a campaign is willing to pay for premium inventory it can reduce the risk of wasting its digital dollars.
“The old adage, you get what you pay for, is often true. A lot of the cheapest inventory that’s out there tends to come from unscrupulous sources,” said Anthony Iaffaldano, who heads marking strategy for Undertone.
Diversified buys can also buttress against ad fraud, but even the best sites have 1-2 percent of their traffic coming from bots, said Iaffaldano, who spoke at C&E's CampaignTech East Conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C. “Anyone that comes to you and tells you zero is flat out lying.”
Campaigns should be alert for digital spikes like, say, 300,000 impressions served on a site in one day.
“You have to be watching and you have to have a really good partnership with your vendors,” said Shannon Chatlos, a vice president at Strategic Partners & Media. “When we catch ad fraud ourselves, we’ll see a crazy amount of impressions on a site.”
Bots often attach themselves to a residential IP address after an individual’s computer is infected with malware, according to Jay Benach, an executive at White Ops, which helps detect ad fraud. “The most advanced form of malware clones your cookies so the bot’s [browser] session looks like it’s you."
Ad fraud, added Benach, is “theft people generally don’t notice. It’s the perfect crime.”