In the final quarter of 2013, suspicious web traffic rose 40 percent, according to the Q4 Solve Media Bot Traffic Advisory. Suspicious mobile traffic increased 30 percent. While Solve Media CEO Ari Jacoby admits this increase is likely a by-product of the holiday season, he was quick to point out that suspicious web traffic had increased with each quarter of 2013.
When it comes to the final quarter of the year though, Jacoby says that with more ad dollars and commerce comes more bot traffic. Maybe the Q1 report from 2014 will show a decline, as ad dollars ebb.
“But there’s no guarantee,” he told SocialTimes, “because the global problem is getting worse.”
Indeed, according to the Solve Media report, much of the suspicious traffic comes from Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. Jacoby attributes this trend to the high numbers of Ph.D quality computer scientists in these geographic areas.
“It’s much easier to steal advertising budgets than it is to move guns or drugs,” he says.
The solution Jacoby proposes is for publishers to authenticate their audiences. Solve Media provides an anti-bot security technology, which he says is better than the traditional Captcha technology that “spits out something that looks like barbed wire.” This creates an unfriendly experience that doesn’t differentiate between human beings and bots.
“Solve uses big data to make sure human beings are treated with respect and save time,” he says. “Bots are punished and forced to retreat.”
Of course the Solve Media tool is just one option. Google, on the other hand, offers Google+ as an option for identity management. However, the drawback to this solution is that it undermines the anonymity that some people consider a foundation of the Internet experience.
“Just like information wants to be free, consumers want to be anonymous, when searching for healthcare information, online dating, or familial matters, without worrying about where they’re being tracked and by whom,” Jacoby says.
The bigger problem, according to Jacoby is that publishers are so worried about visibility that they’ve practically ignored the bot infestation. But if the audience is made up of bots, it doesn’t matter if they can see your content. In the end, the first filter should be humanity.
“In the absence of humanity, there is no value in branding,” he says.