Are All Your Ad Efforts Being Wasted on Bots?

Do you buy display or re-targeting ads? Food for thought as you review your ROI.

It’s no small feat to craft a witty and compelling advertisement, especially one that translates across all the web’s many forms of media. However, even if you have the next Dos Equis man up your sleeve, a significant portion of your campaign reach is likely hitting robots.


White Ops and the Association of National Advertisers ( ANA) predict that worldwide advertisers will take a loss of $6.3 billion in ad money in 2015 thanks to these artificial viewers, who can absorb any online information, like text, videos and audio.

Turns out brand-focused viral videos may not be so viral after all, as such clips accounted for the highest percentage of robot views, according to White Ops’ and ANA’s September 2014 study.

In the U.S. alone, 23 percent of video impressions are expected to come from robots this year. Retargeted ads are also expected to keep bots busy in 2015, with an expected impression portion of 19 percent , as well as programmatic display, at 17 percent. Also be sure to anticipate 11 percent of any display ad views in the coming months to originate from non-human clicks.

Ad fraud is already on marketers’ and advertisers’ radars, as 42.8 percent of American agency planners reported high concern regarding digital fraud and viewability, according to a July 2014 Digital Place Based Advertising Association study. Those who aren’t on high alert are still on their toes, with 52.2 percent stating that they are somewhat concerned.

The threat has reached video buyers (60 percent) and sellers (41 percent), who reported being worried about robots and ad stacking in an survey.

Overall, 37 percent of American marketers find these bots to be a bother, according to an August 2014 report by Marin Software. The threat is even impacting the shape of advertising today and is pushing 47 percent of marketers in the UK and North America away from investing in programmatic ads, as reported in Chango‘s September 2014 survey.

Though the threat is real, robots do tend to have some preferred reading material that they seem to target.

Top of the robot reading list? Finance (22 percent), family (18 percent) and food (16 percent) all had the highest rates of bot ad traffic. Sports, science and information web sites failed to capture their attention, with less than 4 percent of views affected.

Think you are affected? Start with looking into diagnostic tools to assess fraud as well as talk to your ad network or programmatic provider to assess how this is being combatted.

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