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Digital Ad Bot Fraud Set to Reach $6.5 Billion

Bot-based fraud in digital advertising is set to reach a massive $6.5bn globally in 2017, yet this would be a 10% decline from last year’s figures, according to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

The industry body’s third annual Bot Baseline Report was compiled from analysis of members’ online ad activity between last October and January this year.

It claimed this year’s predicted losses pale in comparison to last year’s $7.2bn figure – an impressive achievement considering digital ad spend is set to increase by 10% this year.

The purchasing of traffic from inorganic sources was flagged as a major source of fraud; accounting for 3.6-times more than “non-sourced” traffic.

In addition, a much higher percentage of video ad spend (22%) was fraudulent, compared to desktop (9%).

Less than 2% of fraudulent activity was picked up in app environments and mobile web display buys, but mobile web video and pay-per-click fraud remain “high and problematic”, the report continued.

It also claimed that programmatic buys are now less risky thanks to improved filtering and controls.

Although bot-based digital ad fraud is set to drop, the battle is far from over as the bad guys continue to innovate, ANA argued.

Bots are getting better at resembling humans and beating the filters that way, and they’re increasingly able to game detection mechanisms.

ANA also claimed private marketplaces also give users a false sense of security because bot traffic sourcing is just as pervasive on these platforms as elsewhere.

There are several things buyers can do to help win the war on fraud and reduce levels to just 2% on the desktop. These include: demanding transparency from all vendors on traffic sources; only paying for non-bot impressions and avoiding too many actions that restrict potential supply, a situation which creates the ideal conditions for fraud to flourish.

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