Some 10% of all online traffic is generated by bots that potentially cost the industry $1.5 billion, based on eMarketer's 2012 global ad spend estimate of $15.3 billion, according to findings released Friday.
Solve Media, the company that build ads into a CAPTCHA-based advertising, released a study citing a 400% rise in abnormal traffic across registration, voting, commenting and contact services on the Web, since 2011. The company, with 100 million identity authentications to collect the data, also points to comScore estimates that suggest between 4% and 11% of ad impressions in the U.S. were delivered to bot traffic.
Bots that automate tasks, such as clicking on Web pages and ads, cause advertisers to pay for impressions never seen by humans. They can steal content, post inappropriate comments and create fake user accounts used to launch other bot attacks.
Advertisers and publishers risk their reputation when bots are active on Web sites. They negatively impact sites through wasted time and money spent marketing to automated nuisances that never become customers.
"Adding an element that requires some interaction seems to work," according to Darren Herman, chief digital officer at ad agency The Media Kitchen.
Will publishers adopt these types of safeguards? Herman believes Madison Avenue will adopt the practices, which prods adoption. He points to issues raised by false clicks in search engine marketing as a reason for prudence.
"During the 1990s, paid search, generally served on a cost-per-click basis, experienced the rise of bot farms, which became an issue," Herman said. "It's not shocking to me that it exists in display and video. Now companies will come and solve the problem."