Aldo Agostinelli

Harmful bots can damage business. We are obviously not talking about Treasury bolts, but a kind of software, similar to the Trojan Horse, which connect to the network and automatically perform illegal or malicious actions.

Simulating the action of users viewing banners or ads, such software distort data concerning advertising. As a consequence advertisers may think they have reached a certain number of views, whereas real data should be much lower. Machines monitor ADVs instead of users and investors end up spending up to 12,5 billion dollars in extra costs which basically lead to nothing (Robots steal advertising). Read it in Italian

Over the past year bots, also called zombies, have already caused damages to the digital advertising market for over 16,4 billion dollars, scuppering about 20% of the total revenues of 2016.

In 2016 researchers of the University Carlo III of Madrid conducted an experiment aimed at checking the authenticity of video views. By using a botnet, i.e. a network of  computers infected by a remotely controlled malware ( bots ), they simulated 150 views of two YouTube  videos. This resulted in the platform recording 25 of such views as real, while  AdWords by Google counted 91 as real, so to say 60% of the total amount. This clearly caused a serious damage to those investing money to get to  know their products or services better (Digital advertising, bots destroy the global market. Since the beginning of 2017 damages have accrued up to 16 billion dollars.

To make things worse, a new global research about botnets by Symantec has ranked the Spanish capital city as the one with the highest rate of bots in Europe, with a number of “infections” equal to those of entire countries like the Netherlands.

Such survey, which also offers an interactive map of bots, has revealed that in 2016 there were over 6.7 millions zombies and Europe accounted for one fifth of the total amount of bots of the whole world (18.7%).

Italy has come second in Europe, after Russia. It is worth pointing out that the place hosting a bot doesn’t always corresponds to its creator’s address: an infected PC in Europe may contribute to an attack in Asia and be controlled by a hacker located anywhere in the United States.

The good news are that the Trustworthy Accountability Group has taken the field to clean the advertising ecosystem by using their anti-fraud software available to buyers, sellers and intermediaries.  Companies which can prove they have been respecting the certified anti-fraud guidelines, are awarded the ” Certified Against Fraud”  badge and they can use it to testify of their commitment to providing safe digital advertising. After reading data concerning the financial losses caused by bots, we cannot but wish they will make a good job!

How worried are you about such click fraud carried out by means of  bots and how are you trying to protect yourselves? Tweet @agostinellialdo.

Want to learn more on the digital world? Read my new book “People Are Media

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Aldo Agostinelli