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How Much Digital Ad Spend Is Lost to Fraudulent Bots?

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Brands worldwide are set to lose $6.5 billion in online advertising spend to fraudulent bots this year, according to recent research from White Ops and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

The report was based on an analysis conducted by White Ops in 4Q16 of the online advertising spend of 49 ANA member companies, including major corporations, such as Coca-Cola, American Express, and Target. Global estimates were determined in part based on the amount of fraud seen with the sample advertisers.

The researchers examined only digital display and video ad buys—not search buys, pay-per-click (PPC) buys, or paid social media campaigns.

Total projected online ad spend loss to bot traffic (impressions from nonhumans) is down 10% from 2017. The researchers theorize the decline is due to the increasingly sophisticated strategies brands are deploying to fight fraud.


Some 9% of desktop display ad impressions included in the data set came from bots, down from 11% the previous year. Just 2% of mobile display ad impressions came from bots.

Some 22% of desktop video ad impressions included in the data set came from bots, down from 23% the previous year.

About the research: The report was based on an analysis conducted by White Ops in 4Q16 of the online advertising spend of 49 ANA member companies, including major corporations, such Coca-Cola, American Express, and Target.


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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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