How Have Bots Corrupted Advertising?

Many people have been there. Paying a promotion or advertisement company product for marketing, only to discover most of your traffic is internet bots, is heart-wrenching. The truth is you’re not the only one. Based on estimates, fake users (bots) make up 40% of all web traffic. In other words, 4 out of every 10 clicks on a PPC advertisement are from bots. This is known as ad fraud, and it cost PPC marketers $35 billion globally in 2020. That’s a huge loss.

To understand how bot traffic impacts your online advertising efforts, let’s discuss how digital advertising works. PPC marketing is an acronym for pay-per-click marketing. This marketing model entails paying a fee whenever someone clicks on your online ads. This means if you pay $5 for a click and someone uses that link to play at for $50, you’ve made a 1000% profit. So, how does ad fraud work, and how can you detect it? Continue reading to find out.

How Bots Corrupted Advertising

One example of pay-per-click marketing is search engine marketing. Using this model, Google allows online marketers to pay for ad placements at the top of SERPs for specific search queries. In other words, you’re paying to drive traffic to a page where you can sell products or services to potential customers. PPC marketing ads can appear on images, websites, videos, social media timelines, and other forms of online interaction hubs. The profit margins can be amazing, but bots can be a problem.

How Do Online Bots Affect Your PPC Marketing Campaigns 

Want to know how online bots affect your marketing efforts? It’s simple. They click on your ads, which means you pay for clicks, and get a high click-through rate but zero conversion.

Website owners or advertisement platforms can use click bots that mimic human behavior to click on ads. As a result, they inflate your ad performance and steal your hard-earned money.

But stealing your money isn’t the only problem. These fake tragic bots can impair your decision-making and provide erroneous analytics. Perhaps you already know how bots impair your decision-making. If you don’t, this article explains further. Asides from driving traffic to your landing page, online advertisements are used to monitor and discover things like:

  • Target audience
  • Location of the target audience
  • Target audience demographic
  • Changes in the target audience’s behavior
  • Ad strategies that attract the most traffic

Now, imagine what happens when bots randomly click on your ads. Or even worse mimic fake human behavior. This can get disastrous. When bots click on your ads, every form of data harnessed from the ad campaign is fake. As a result, every decision based on the data is likely to be wrong. And this is not all. It can get worse.

Advanced bots can scrape internet users’ data without permission and present this data as information from your prospects. As a result, when you send emails or targeted ads to these fake customers, they’re likely to associate your brand with spamming. This can effectively ruin your or your brand’s reputation.

So how do you identify fake traffic bots?

How to Identify Fake Traffic Bots

Like every technological front, fake traffic bots are improving their abilities at exponential rates, the situation made worse by recent AI innovations. However, here are some time-tested ways to help identify malicious bots:

  • Low Conversion/High Click-through Rate

Fraudulent bots aren’t the only cause of low conversion rates and high click-through rate ratio—your conversion strategies are a major factor. However, it’s advisable to keep an eye out for bots when you notice this scenario on your website.

  • Low Engagement Rate

Most bots are not optimized to satisfy the parameters for engagement rate. As a result, if you notice high web traffic with little to no engagement rate, start planning your bot-killer strategies.

  • Abandoned Carts 

Would you program bots to buy products you don’t need? Your answer is most likely no. However, there are some bots that can now fill out customer carts. The saving grace is they never complete the purchase. If they ever do, would you care if bots consider your product valuable? Asides from this, you probably have a bot problem if this scenario starts becoming a trend in your online store.

Closing Word

To sum it up, bot traffic is a staple on today’s internet. It can be surprising to learn that bots comprise at least 40% of all web traffic. Unfortunately, marketers and PPC platforms like Google AdSense are not doing enough to mitigate this problem. As a result, advertisers are losing an estimated $35 billion annually to ad fraud. And things aren’t about to get better— AI makes it easier to create online bots.

Regardless, specific telltale signs can help you identify fraudulent ad performance. These signs help you re-strategize and implement analytic settings that can sieve bot traffic from human traffic. Better still, you can automate this process by using Captcha and specific AI-based cyber security tools to prevent bot traffic.