Non-Human Traffic Not Rampant, Finds comScore, But It Still Plays A Role

For the vast majority of digital marketers, non-human traffic is not a debilitating problem.

A new comScore study reveals that for 79% of digital campaigns, non-human traffic accounts for fewer than 5% of the ads bought and sold (with an average of 1%). For 14% of campaigns, non-human traffic makes up 5%-20% of the pool, and for the remaining 7% of campaigns, over 20% of the ads bought are delivered to bots.

The data comes from comScore’s most recent report: “The Value of a Digital Ad.”

In total, the bottom 21 percent of campaigns contributed 75 percent of all NHT (non-human traffic) impressions,” wrote comScore in a blog post teasing the report. “This suggests that by focusing NHT detection and mitigation efforts on these campaigns, the vast majority of all existing NHT activity can be curbed, and wasted ad spend can be greatly reduced.”

While comScore’s discovery that non-human traffic is not as rampant as it may seem -- at least for most advertisers -- it still needs to be accounted for.

In the report, comScore shows how different digital ad measurement vendors can report greatly different numbers based on whether or not they include non-human traffic. For example, if two viewability measurement vendors track the same campaign but only one accounts for non-human traffic, the final numbers could greatly differ from one another, depending on how rampant the fraud was. In comScore’s example, one vendor reported 55% viewabilty for a campaign, while the other reported 80%.

“Such discrepancies among measurement providers can be disconcerting for clients and contribute to a perceived disparity -- and lack of confidence -- in the leading viewability technologies in the market today,” writes comScore. “The reason for this disparity is not, nor should it be, a mystery -- it is being driven by the increasing incidence of NHT and varying abilities between measurement providers to filer it appropriately.”

Disparities among viewability measurement vendors have been documented before, and the topic was covered at length by a Online Metrics Insiderpost -- authored by Josh Chasin, chief research officer at comScore -- just weeks ago. 

Disparities between measurement providers were a driver behind the IAB calling for an industry standard of 70% viewability,” wrote Chasin.

The most recent data indicates the market is still below 50% viewability.

So while comScore’s report should ease some minds -- non-human traffic is not apocalyptic for most, after all -- it does bring to light other issues.

“As if wrestling with NHT weren’t already enough of an issue in digital, advertisers also have to worry about the fact that many of the ads served in their campaigns that don’t have nHT issues never have the opportunity to be seen by humans,” writes comScore in its report.

Essentially, when looked at individually, some of the quality issues marketers face may not seem all that bad. But when compounded, “quality” -- and the ability to unanimously define and measure it --becomes a legitimate concern, especially because marketers are now buying and selling digital media on the basis of “quality.”

1 comment about "Non-Human Traffic Not Rampant, Finds comScore, But It Still Plays A Role".
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  1. Chris Abbott from DetectRight Limited, February 6, 2015 at 9:54 a.m.

    That's if their algorithm to measure non-human traffic is accurate, rather than just relying on self-declaring bots: which I really don't think it is.

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