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.