Suspicious Web traffic in the U.S. rose 36% sequentially in the third quarter of 2014, and bot traffic grew by 35%. Data released Friday identifies 55% of the traffic on retail sites as suspicious with 34% of traffic confirmed as bot. The data defines "suspicious" as non-human behavior.
U.S. retailers could waste about $4.6 billion of eMarketer's projected $11 billion spent on digital advertising this year on bot traffic fraud, estimates Solve Media. The company's latest Quarterly Bot Traffic Market Advisory focuses on U.S. retailers.
Solve Media CEO Ari Jacoby believes 2015 will become the year of verified human audiences. Media companies are "demanding to purchase only human ad traffic and viewable ads."
Brands waste millions of dollars annually. If Bloomingdale's spends $200 million annual in digital, "we estimate $68 million of that could be wasted on bot traffic," estimates Jacoby.
Automotive, consumer product goods and retail were hit hardest, mainly because these industries are the heaviest users of data targeting and retargeting. The three markets spend the most on digital advertising. While fraudsters follow the money, these industries also use the most retargeting and "probabilistic" data-targeting techniques.
Bots can more easily follow paths that imply intent rather than confirm it. The bots look for signals that assume the consumer wants to buy a car, rather than survey data, where the consumer tells the brand they are in the market for a new car. It's easier for bots to simulate the process related to probabilistic data because there is no definitive answer.
Mobile advertising continues to quickly become a target. eMarketer estimates that retailers will spend 37%, or $4.09 billion, on mobile advertising in the U.S. in 2014. Solve Media believes bots affect between 5% and 6% of that retail mobile ad traffic, meaning retailers waste on bots about $245 million of their mobile advertising budgets.
"When the numbers are compiled, we think it will get worse in the fourth quarter," Jacoby said.