Advertisers Waste Over $180 Million A Year To Reach Robots


Robots don’t wear clothes, eat food, drink beer, color their hair or use any other consumer products. Yet, according to an August 9 Robot-at-ComputerAdvertising Age report, online advertisers may be wasting tens of millions of dollars a year to reach them.

At 4:30 PM Wednesday, August 14, University of Wisconsin professor Paul Barford will tell a seminar audience at the USENIX Security ’13 Summit in Washington, DC, that the problem’s even worse.

Each month, he’ll say, ten traffic networks deliver more than 500 million invalid advertising impressions. “We estimate the cost to advertisers for this fraudulent traffic to be on the order of $180 million annually,” an advance statement claims.

How big is it?

Barford bases this claim on a study in which he scammed the scammers. “[P]osing as a web publisher…[he signed] up for several different traffic generation services, also called PPV [pay per view] networks,” then filtered the traffic through proprietary anomaly detection software to identify and count fake traffic.

Timur Yarnall, his partner in a new company called MdotLabs, says as much as half of all web traffic is fake. Read more →