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Digital publishing trends for 2020 - 6. The bot brigade and more such frauds

  • 28 December 2019 by
  • Krishna Kumar
Digital publishing trends for 2020 - 6. The bot brigade and more such frauds

Today, more than half of your web traffic comes from bots, URL scans, low level DoS and similar non-human sources. There are technologies and databases that can identify these bot traffic and label them as such, but as always, the good trails the bad. Even if you successfully identify all bot traffic, all that means is that you can remove them from your page views and your ad views. You still end up paying for it in terms of infrastructure. And that cost is only increasing by the day. How big is the problem? Distil Networks, states in early December 2019 that during the previous 30 days, their systems came across 8,448,885,728 malicious bots! Did you add up the cost of all the time effort and money required to keep your websites up and running amidst this onslaught?

Bots and attacks of all sorts are the evil that you have in the neighborhood and you have no choice but to spend increasing amounts of time and resources each year battling them. But that is only half the story. The other half of the story is about lost revenues due to fraud. These include and is not limited to click fraud, leadgen fraud, retargeting fraud and many more of its kind. Distil networks, in their whitepaper "Publisher's Guide to Measuring and Mitigating Non-Human Traffic" suggests that "for every $3 spent on digital advertising, $1 is being siphoned out of the advertising ecosystem into the pockets of the bad guys. As a result, publishers' ad revenues are depleted by one third and advertisers have a lower return on investment." Not only do they make you spend more on your infrastructure, but also, they take away revenue that is legitimately yours! A double whammy if there ever was one!

However, there is some good news in this front. WhiteOps, in their bot baseline study for 2018-19, estimated that in 2019, advertising click fraud will amount to a staggering USD 5.8 billions, with video impressions being at the highest risk! So, what is the good news? That it is down from the projection for 2017, which was at USD 6.4 billions. WhiteOps further estimates that today, "for the first time, the majority of fraud attempts are getting stymied before they are paid for"


This article is part of a series on Digital Publishing trends for 2020. You can read the others in this series below

1. It is the reader, not the content
2. Long tail content comes into play to increase pageviews
3. The lure of the walled gardens
4. Is custom content the new king?
5. Programmatic advertising and other technology nightmares
7. What is happening to affiliate revenues?
8. The second digital transformation is well on its way
9. Are paywalls really the next big opportunity?