Advertisers expect that all online content is delivered to human audiences. But an alarming portion of digital advertising is being diverted by nefarious entities that exploit the ecosystem to deliver fraudulent traffic. The potential for fraud exists anywhere that media spending is significant and performance metrics are ambiguous or easily gamed.

Online advertising is particularly vulnerable. Nefarious groups have found ways to profit from infiltrating legitimate systems and generating false ad views, ad clicks and site visits using robotic programs. Robotic traffic — known popularly as “bots” — is driven by code and not humans. These bots are often smart enough to mimic human behaviour, and they can be difficult to detect. While more sophisticated bots can simulate conversions such as clicking through to sites, they don’t generate real conversions by buying goods and services, and they certainly don’t engage with brands. Activity generated by these bots waters down engagement metrics driven by human traffic, which dilutes the value of legitimate publisher inventory. Advertisers end up spending campaign dollars on specious ad impressions never seen by humans. The best practices document below will explain how robotic traffic (aka “bots”) can infiltrate legitimate publisher inventory.

Accordingly, it provides premium publishers and networks, as well as buyers, with specific recommendations on how to combat this activity. The public comment period for the best practices is open until January 10th, 2013. If you would like to submit feedback please contact IAB Canada or Steve Sullivan at prior to the deadline.

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