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This POV, co-authored by our in-house experts, outlines the advancement of Bot fraud, explains how Bots steal, and offers four points to protect online investments from Bot fraud.

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  2. 2. © 2014 Havas Media Group 2 Bot Fraud is a Real Problem … But Not Undefeatable.HAVAS MEDIA FOCUS Over the years, digital Ad Verification has become an essential part of man- aging digital advertising campaigns. Ad Verification tools audit the deliv- ery of impressions within appropriate content, geographic targeting, ad viewability, and Bot fraud detection to ensure clients are maximizing the value of their campaigns. While most aspects of ad verification are relatively straightforward (Was an ad viewable? Was it delivered within proper geo parameters? Within proper content? etc.), Bot fraud is more complex and has become an increasingly real problem. Bot fraud is defined as non-human traffic de- signed to generate false ad views, ad clicks, and site visits. As a result, advertisers end up paying for poor quality impressions that had no chance of delivering sales or conversion. According to the IAB, it represents as much as 25%-30% of all online traffic. Bot fraud has evolved over the past 12 months to a much more sophisticated state than anyone had expected. There is a secondary economy thriving on creating Bot-cookies. Bots (ver- sus humans) are being sold to advertisers across exchanges (i.e. OpenX, AdECN, Ad Desk, Right Media, etc.), premium publishers (i.e. AOL, Yahoo, MSN, WSJ, NYT, etc.) and through DMPs (i.e. BlueKai, Turn, Lotame, etc.). The Bot fraud economy is very complex. Different players contribute at different stages of the process which makes this new approach difficult to suppress and moreover control. The most egregious places for Bots to thrive is within the digital RTB environment, but it is prevalent in almost every publisher to varying degrees. While RTB for digital media has become an extremely efficient and effective strategy, it is often a “black box” with respect to algorithms, audience group- ings, and bidding. As the RTB investment continues to grow ex- ponentially, this black box is ripe for Bot fraud. Advancement of Bot Fraud
  3. 3. © 2014 Havas Media Group 3 Bot Fraud is a Real Problem … But Not Undefeatable.HAVAS MEDIA FOCUS Programmers develop malware (harmful code) and sell it on the open mar- ket to Bot operators (persons intending to commit fraud). Bot operators may or not operate alone. Most often, they are part of a larger network. While you may detect and shut down one Bot operator, this does not mean that the code isn’t being or will be used by someone else. There are various ways Bot operators defraud advertisers, including: 1. Fake Sites. Launching as a fake publisher, buying Bot generated impres- sions to demonstrate traffic and selling unlimited amount of inventory seen by Bots, not humans. 2. Fake Audiences. Deploying a large pool of Bot users to premium and popular sites to be “cookied” and grouped as desired audiences on both the DSP and DMP systems for sale. 3. Fake Traffic. Offering up the sale of Bot traffic to any publisher(s) who is looking to boost their ranking with syndicators such as ComScore, Nielsen, etc. 4. Fake Impressions. Offering up the delivery of free impressions through Bot farms (DMPs of Bots) used to deliver impressions and achieve reach goals for agencies and advertisers. The fraud prevention industry has tackled this surge of sophisticated Bot fraud in several ways. Concerned publishers leverage evolving technol- ogy to monitor unusual traffic patterns from suspicious referral sources. RTB players are offering up Bot detection and verification services as part of their standard media offering to assure advertisers their investments are safe. Vendors such as WhiteOps claim to have the largest and most robust database of Bots, fingerprinted to alert you anytime they see that Bot. Other vendors such as DoubleVerify claim to use an algorithm which detects fraudulent sites and Bot impressions by uncovering non-human behavior in real-time. These vendors can use ad blocking technology to prevent the ad from even being served when they detect Bot traffic. How Do Bots Steal? Protection from Bots
  4. 4. © 2014 Havas Media Group 4 Bot Fraud is a Real Problem … But Not Undefeatable.HAVAS MEDIA FOCUS It is likely that fraudsters will always stay one step ahead of verification sys- tems. While we encourage all our advertisers to invest and protect their digital investments – we also know that the tried-and-true process of monitoring actual business performance is the most valuable. Bots do not necessarily translate to business outcomes such as orders, conversions, or sale transactions. By employing ad verification and blocking technology along with monitoring business performance by partner, placement, and activation, advertisers can weed out bad partners from their media plans. To protect your online investment from fraud, consider these four points: 1. Leverage Ad verification across the entire campaign. We recommend using a central verification partner across all publishers and activations to benchmark performance using similar methods and metrics. 2. Deploy blocking, make-goods, and formulate blacklists. Consider taking immediate action once a set of placements and/or publishers are defined by either dynamically blocking the serving of Ads. Where blocking is not possible, seek “make goods” or guarantees and work with the verification partner to build custom black-lists to avoid future high-risk Ad delivery. 3. Strengthen your media insertion orders/contracts. Build in provisions against questionable partners, publishers and placements to guarantee recourse when violations occur. 4. Verification must play a role in attribution. Ensure your attribution models are developed on real human behavior. Eliminate Bots and fraud from your attribution modeling datasets to avoid contaminating results with fake data and incorrect results. Final Thoughts & Recommendations
  5. 5. © 2014 Havas Media Group 5 Bot Fraud is a Real Problem … But Not Undefeatable.HAVAS MEDIA FOCUS About the Authors Jonathan Zajicek Director of Analytics & Research Jonathan has been a Director of Analytics and Research and Havas Chicago analytics lead for 2 years. His roster of clients include Sears, Kmart, Valspar, Reynolds, Hefty among oth- ers. He comes from a client side background where he managed analytics teams focusing on direct response insurance and E-commerce. Whitney Berns SVP, Digital Director Whitney is responsible for the advertising operations and strategic partnerships at Havas Media. She manages the agency relationships with leading technology companies to deliver best-in-class ad delivery, tracking, and optimization services to all clients. Whitney brings over 15 years of experience in digital media, including Search, Display, and Social. She is a pro-active problem solver with the ability to collaborate across multiple groups both internally and externally. Adam Kasper Chief Media Officer Adam Kasper is Chief Media Officer of Havas Media, North America and has primary re- sponsibility for building and evolving the media offering at the company. Adam has served as a key member of the executive management team of Havas Media since 2008. He is a 20-year veteran of the digital and media industry, a regular speaker at industry events, con- tributor to publications and in 2013 was named an OMMA/MediaPost All-Star for media. Michael Kaushansky EVP, Chief Analytics Officer Michael has been involved in the field of analytics for more than 15 years, with a strong focus on consumer insights, media effectiveness, statistical modeling, and digital marketing analysis. Through his work, he helps clients get more value out of their media investments. He is a recognized leader, and often speaks at industry events on digital attribution and data strategy. Michael partners closely with strategy, media, and creative teams to enable brands to take advantage of a plethora of media data.
  6. 6. Produced by Havas Media Group www.havasmedia.com Follow Us: @HavasMediaUSA