4 in 5 UK advertisers ‘at the mercy of bot traffic’

May 23, 2014 | Online advertising, Regulation, UK

Nearly four in five (78%) of UK advertisers have no insight into how many of their ad impressions could be fraudulent, despite admitting that traffic generated by bots is costing them money. In the study carried out by Project Sunblock, senior marketing decision makers estimated that bot traffic is costing them between £10-15,000 each year, […]

Nearly four in five (78%) of UK advertisers have no insight into how many of their ad impressions could be fraudulent, despite admitting that traffic generated by bots is costing them money.


In the study carried out by Project Sunblock, senior marketing decision makers estimated that bot traffic is costing them between £10-15,000 each year, equivalent to 3,000 video ads on YouTube. However, despite expressing serious concern over the potentially damaging effect of bots, one in five of those surveyed had no method of preventing their brand from falling victim to fraud.
Top line results are:
• 78 per cent of UK advertisers have no insight into how many of their ad impressions could be fraudulent
• Advertisers estimate is costs them £10-15,000 each year, equivalent to 3,000 video ads on YouTube
• Despite expressing serious concern over the potentially damaging effect of bots, one in five of those surveyed had no method of preventing their brand from falling victim to fraud
Half of the £14 billion spent on advertising in the UK is now spent online, but for the digital media community there has never been more uncertainty about who or what is seeing their ads.
With the meteoric rise of ad networks and programmatic buying, ad impressions are bought and sold in a matter of seconds, leaving the door open to those out to game the system. Malware and fraudulent activity has grown along with the increase in digital ad spend and in turn so has the proportion of non-human web traffic, further increasing the risk of wasted advertising budgets.
According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau at least a third of all web traffic is now non-human and many other reports cite figures further north of that. Bogus views and fake click-throughs are creating a false economy within the digital advertising industry and if advertisers don’t tackle the problem soon the future value of ad campaigns will be undermined as they’re crippled by invisible botnets.
Andrew Goode, COO, Project Sunblock said: “Botnets are already surprisingly sophisticated and will only become more potent in time. There are many pieces of malware used to infect PCs which are used to create fake traffic and then sold on to publishers through ad exchanges, and some of the bots are almost indestructible. It’s surprising that despite relatively high awareness of the issue of bots, there are still relatively few advertisers who have taken action to fight them.”
“Botnets won’t simply die out and tackling the issue can’t be left to the ad agencies either. After all, they have limited time and unless their clients press them to do so, they won’t be able to justify commissioning the technology needed to protect against fraud. It is up to the advertisers themselves to take action and ask questions in order to proactively manage their brand online and win the war against the infamous bots.”
The research was conducted on behalf of Project Sunblock, with 268 senior marketing decisions makers at mid-sized (50-500 people) UK brands.
Project Sunblock

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