The blame game over digital ad bots has reached absurd proportions. Enough is enough! Everyone is to blame for a whole host of reasons:
- Publishers have been buying cheap traffic to pump up numbers.
- Exchanges have turned a blind eye to high traffic or re-trafficked sites, while focusing solely on volume.
- Agencies have continued to allow clients to believe low CPMs and high CTRs are where the value is. They have denied knowledge of the fraud and haven’t wanted to show a dip in performance.
- Clients have bought into the notion that digital media is so good and so cheap that they’ve pushed agencies harder and harder to return year after year with a better, cheaper media plan.
We have all participated in the madness and there will always be companies or individuals ready and willing to build a new technology to game the system.
Take makers of viruses, for instance. Most hackers get no financial reward for deploying malicious code, but they do it anyway. In our industry, we reward the robots with tons of cash, the more human-like the better.
Scary, right? I’m not going to debate here how long it will take us to rid ourselves of the bots, or even propose methods for doing so. However, I do know there are a number of large companies taking bots very seriously. These companies are deploying smart technology and armies of people to rid the industry of robotic activity.
What I’m most worried about is the near-term impact on the brave companies that are taking a strong stand. They are eliminating and destroying bots in order to protect brands. They are operating clean exchanges while educating publishers about how best to protect their quality, engaged audiences.
I fear that these brave few will be perceived as having less scale, high prices and marginal value. In fact, the opposite is true. These bot-free sites should be the most highly sought after, most expensive and best performing publishers on any media plan.
If you buy a bot-free site, expect to pay more, but have confidence that you get what you pay for. The proof will be in the ROI.