Beware Sourced Traffic – per ANA/White Ops Bot Fraud Study

December 16, 2014

By Bill Duggan

Last week ANA and White Ops publicly released the report, “The Bot Baseline: Fraud in Digital Advertising.” The study analyzed the level of bot fraud occurring across the digital advertising industry and made a series of recommendations.

One of the biggest findings is that publishers who purchased “sourced traffic” display inventory from a third party had 52 percent fraud. To put that in perspective, fraud in display advertising overall was 11% so sourced traffic display inventory was almost five times higher! Importantly, well-known publishers and premium publishers were not immune to high bot levels in sourced traffic.

Sourced traffic (or traffic sourcing) is any method by which publishers acquire more visitors through third parties. That’s often done because a publisher does not have enough available inventory on its own site to fulfill the requirements of a buy and, rather than turn away ad dollars, that publisher goes out to third party sites and buys traffic that mirrors the audience on its own site.

Given that traffic sourcing correlates strongly to high bot percentages, it’s recommended that buyers request transparency from publishers around traffic sourcing and build language in RFPs and insertion orders that requires publishers to identify all third-party sources of traffic. Furthermore, buyers should have the option of rejecting sourced traffic and running their advertising only on a publisher’s organic site traffic.

Publishers should always monitor sourced traffic, know their sources and maintain transparency about traffic sourcing. Publishers should then eliminate sources of traffic that are shown to have high bot percentages.

The Bot Baseline: Fraud in Digital Advertising has some terrific insights and provides a total of seventeen recommendations to the industry to help combat fraud. 


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