What publishers are facing in their fight against bots

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), digital fraud costs advertisers $8.2 billion each year. Some suspect there’s little incentive to fight it because advertisers have priced it into their spend already.

Some even suspect publishers are reluctant to clean up non-human traffic (NHT) for fear of hurting revenues. Others, including security expert Dr. Augustine Fou, say that fraud is inevitable, since there will always be “hackers who are very advanced in the use of technology and who don’t play by the normal rules of engagement.”

Our new report, “2017 State of Digital Publishers’ Fight Against NHT: To Block NHT or Not to Block,” surveyed 40 of the comScore 250 publishers about their attitudes and experiences with NHT – also known as bots – both as an internal issue and as a discussion point with potential direct buyers of their inventory.

Here are some of the critical insights gleaned from the data:


1. All Publishers Are Victims Of NHT, But It Can’t Be All Their Fault.

NHT is generally thought to derive from engaging in questionable tactics, such as purchasing traffic to increase volume. However, while 78% of premium publishers surveyed have experienced nefarious NHT on their sites, only 38% said they purchased external traffic. Clearly, NHT is getting through in other ways, causing many marketers to lose trust in the digital advertising marketplace.

2. The True Cost Of Fraud Is Greater Than The NHT That Arrives On A Publisher’s Site.

This is because sophisticated bots are accepting cookies, building profiles of humans, and creating counterfeit audiences. Ad units purchased by advertisers in the open ad exchanges could include counterfeit audiences and publisher audiences could be underpriced. Publishers need to determine the actual loss of revenue based on the number of ad units bought for counterfeit audiences and the price for such ad units.

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