The following article contains excerpt highlights taken from an (excellent) article by Ryan Holiday. I recommend that you read Ryans full article (link provided at bottom of this article). As well as Ryans useful personal insights and experiences in this matter, it contains useful information and insight about paid web traffic and it’s benefits (….benefits which still apply even when using inferior “Bot” paid traffic services….) – also please note that Web-Traffic-Services Web Traffic is from REAL visitors, not Bots, and is GUARANTEED as such. )

 

Fake Traffic Means Real Paydays

Media companies complicit in scams to pad their numbers

By Ryan Holiday

 

At this point, the average reader understands the business model of blogging and online journalism pretty clearly:

Get traffic, sell ads.

 

The more traffic a site gets, the more money it makes…

The more traffic a site gets, the more money it makes. And sites need to get lots of traffic—lots more traffic than traditional media used to get—to pay for the costs of producing content.

This is more or less the justification for the somewhat scammy things that blogs do to acquire millions of extra page views every month.

It’s why they publish first and edit or fact-check later. It’s why they admit that truth is irrelevant to an article’s value. It’s why they fall over themselves to cover pseudo events and marketing fluff. It’s why they split articles up into slide shows or paginate them. And of course, advertisers go along with this, because it means more opportunities to plop cheap ads in front of trapped users.

All these things are clearly manipulative, but at least they are not illegal or outright fraudulent.

 

What if prominent advertising networks and media sites decided that wasn’t enough?

But what if prominent advertising networks and media sites decided that that wasn’t enough? What if they’ve decided to open it up to plain deception to wring extra money from brands?

As it turns out, this is exactly what is happening.

 

A recent study by comScore found that 54 percent of display ads shown in thousands of campaigns between May 2012 and February 2013 never appeared in front of a human being.

Rather, the traffic came from bots.

As an advertiser, this would be like buying a billboard you were told was seen by thousands of cars a day only to find out that was because the billboard sat next to the assembly line at a Ford plant. Sure, that’s a lot of cars, but there’s no one in them.

 

Quality of traffic does not factor into the equation

In fact, the system is so broken that, for some publishers, knowingly buying traffic that comes from bots is part of their business model.

An anonymous publishing executive, who claimed to be buying up to $35,000 worth of traffic per day, recently told Digiday  that for publishers running an arbitrage model, all that matters is profit; quality of traffic does not factor into the equation.

The game is thus: You can buy traffic for less than a penny per visit from a vendor of dubious quality, because you know you have essentially an unlimited standing offer from advertisers that value those impressions at a penny plus. Of course, they have no idea they’re being hustled. They have no idea that a significant amount of those views never actually happened, despite what their servers log.

The largest cybercrime takedown by the federal government involved a group from Estonia, who used a botnet to make $14 million, with fake ads that appeared on ESPN.com and Amazon.com.

What exactly is bot traffic?

But what exactly is this bot traffic?

Traffic from bots is the segment of Web traffic that is generated by automated botnets. A botnet is fake traffic that is generated from thousands of infected computers, usually via malware, aimed at generating fraudulent ad revenue through fake clicks and impressions.

Botnets usually originate in faraway countries like Estonia, Singapore and China (where labor is cheap).

 

It’s a classic case of getting what you pay for

When a publisher knowingly or unknowingly buys botnet traffic from ad networks, what it gets in return is dirt-cheap traffic, usually for a penny or less. If questioned, an ad network would describe the traffic source as of an “unknown quality.”

It’s a classic case of getting what you pay for.

 

Fake traffic is an easy way to make a profit

But for publishers and ad networks, buying cheap, fake traffic is an easy way to make a profit in an environment with increasingly low margins. Typically, it is shoddy content publishers that utilize these dubious sources of traffic, but major media publishers have also been suspected of buying fake (Bot) traffic.

 

For some ad exchanges, dealing in suspect inventory can mean millions more dollars

For some ad exchanges, dealing in suspect inventory can mean millions more dollars at acquisition time.

Earlier this year, AOL agreed to acquire Adap.tv, a video ad exchange, for $405 million. Some experts have said the amount of suspect inventory bought and sold through Adap.tv’s exchange could be anywhere from 30 percent to 80 percent.

 

So what is to be done about all this supposed fraud?

So what is to be done about all this supposed fraud?

Some of the largest players with enormous ad spends have been going back to publishers and ad networks demanding some kind of “viewable guarantee.”

But the vast majority of ad buyers who can’t force guarantees may have to start picking their poison. Do they keep buying millions of display ads, knowing they’re lighting half of their money on fire? Or do they give that money to Google and Facebook,whose near monopolies on search and social mean they can demand increasingly higher rates?

Some say that if online ad fraud persists, Facebook and Google will further cement their positions, at the expense of other cheaper ad networks.

 

The online ad game is corruptive, because the parties involved have little incentive to be honest

The online ad game is corruptive, because the parties involved have little incentive to be honest.

  • Ad networks have little incentive to clean up their exchanges, because they get a cut of every transaction, and cleaning up their traffic sources would lower revenues.
  • Publishers don’t want to see penny-per-click prices disappear, because then their revenues would plummet and, more importantly, so would their traffic stats.
  • Ad buyers know that their clients want the cheapest rates possible and the largest reach.

 

At the end of it, it’s brands and businesses that get scammed, wasting millions of dollars on bogus, pointless advertising.

 

See the full article: “Fake Traffic Means Real Paydays”  By Ryan Holiday: https://betabeat.com/2014/01/fake-traffic-means-real-paydays/

Ryan Holiday is a best-selling author and adviser to many brands and writers. His newest book, Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing and Advertising, focuses on the untraditional tactics behind a new class of thinkers who disrupted the marketing industry.

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