A new study by ad firm Solve Media claims that 10 percent of all web traffic is now driven by bots, automated computer programs that can mimic humans by leaving comments or entering contests.
The study also cites a 400 percent rise in so-called “aberrant traffic” in actions like registration and voting, resulting in a costly nuisance for both publishers and advertisers. Solve Media says it conducted the 18-month study on the basis of 2 billion authentications performed across more than 5,000 publishing sites.
The upshot, according to Solve Media, is that advertisers may be directing up to 10 percent of their online advertising dollars at this fake, robot-driven traffic. Meanwhile, publishers are burdened with purging bots from their comment boards and registration systems.
Solve Media seeks to solve this problem by helping publishers keep the bots away with ”Captchas” — those pictures or squiggly letters that require you to type something.
According to Andy Wilson, SVP of Digital Marketing at Meredith Corp, the Captcha tools have reduced the number of bots entering contests. In the past, he says, bots entered to get their babies on the cover of Parents magazine or to win $25,000 from Better Homse & Gardens.
Ari Jacoby, CEO of Solve Media, says that it’s important for publishers to aggressively battle the bots.
“Once bots begin to attack a sight, they’re everywhere on the site … But once they meet significant resistance, they’re trained to go away.”
Solve Media also claims that its Captchas are calibrated to be easy for humans and difficult for bots. This means that a real person is less likely to encounter an indecipherable squiggly line but instead will get a straight-forward message to type like “Toyota Corolla” (which presents, of course, another advertising opportunity).
Finally, here’s an infographic that Solve Media is using to present its study findings:
(Image by Principal via Shutterstock)