Bots Infecting Nearly Half of Web Traffic, Per Report

Solve Media says that advertisers could blow close to $10 billion in 2013

If you are a glass half full-type of person, you might want to emphasize that 54 percent of Web advertising is not suspicious, as is 65 percent of mobile advertising.

If you are a glass-half-empty person, you might be concerned that the online ad industry has a serious and growing credibility problem. Worse than credibility being lost—advertisers are potentially blowing $9.5 billion this year on on non-humans.

That’s because according to Solve Media, the bot problem is getting worse. In the second quarter of this year, Solve found that 46 percent of Web advertising exhibits suspicious activity, up from 43 percent in Q1. Similarly, 35 percent of mobile ads in Q2 were suspect, according to Solve’s data, up from 29 percent during the previous quarter.

The company's’ latest Bot Traffic Market Advisory also found that video advertising is seeing an alarming rise in bot traffic, something that Adweek has also reported.

Solve Media isn’t a bot-tracking company per se; the firm’s technology powers CAPTCHAs—those Web interfaces that require you to spell obscure words to prove you are not a robot. Solve also sells ads within the CAPTCHAs it powers.

Many in the industry will debate the severity of the bot problem, and some would question just how much visibility Solve’s CAPTCHA footprint affords it. For its part, the fast growing company claims to track 230 million human verifications across over 6,500 publishers across the globe.

Speaking of the globe, if you think the U.S. has a bot problem (43 percent of Web ads are suspect, per Solve), just look East. According to Solve’s data, a stunning 92 percent of China’s Web traffic is suspicious. Venezuela (80 percent) and Ukraine (77 percent) also exhibit alarming bot patterns, while Singapore leads when it comes to suspicious mobile traffic (86 percent).

“Protecting website publishers from automated submissions, spam, attacks, and other types of fraudulent activity must become a crucial industry priority,” said Adam J. O’Donnell, chief architect, cloud technology Group at Sourcefire and Solve Media security council member.