Skip to Content

Bots Make Up Ten Percent of Online Traffic, Study Says

A 20-month study finds that bots impersonating humans are a growing concern for web advertisers.
September 28, 2012

Web publishers and platforms count on accurately measuring traffic in order to sell ads, but that model is being undermined by an army of ‘bots that make comments, click on links, and participate in online promotions, according to a study from Solve Media. AdWeek provides some details: 

Based on a 20-month study, Solve Media found that a projected 10 percent of all online traffic isn’t human. Between January 2011 and August 2012, the company observed 100 million unique visitors a month across 5,000 publishers and found that one out of every ten users wasn’t a user at all, but a bot. 

To be sure, Solve Media, which sells tools related to CAPTCHAs, the boxes used on many sites to prove a user is a human, has a vested interest in describing this trend. The study was prompted by a report earlier this year that computer programs, not humans, generated a high percentage of Facebook likes and shares. Over the last few months, Facebook has been cracking down on the practice.  

Automated traffic-generating robots have always been a problem on the web, but the problem may be worsening as advertisers sink more dollars into spreading their message in creative ways, though contests, polls, and social promotions. Non-consumer traffic in actions like registration and voting increased from 6 percent in 2011 to 26 percent today, Solve Media says.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

How do strong muscles keep your brain healthy?

There’s a robust molecular language being spoken between your muscles and your brain.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.