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BizReport : Mobile Marketing : January 06, 2017

Expert: Mobile brands must address bot issues

Bots have been a problem in digital for years, but new data shows bots are quickly moving into mobile, too. In fact, G2 Crowd suggests that mobile ad fraud is nearly as prevalent as online fraud at this point. Here's how mobile brands can protect themselves.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: How can mobile advertisers minimize bot traffic/the risks associated with it?

Kara Kennedy, Manager of Research, G2 Crowd: As consumers become more reliant on mobile devices, bots and click fraud are becoming more prevalent as well. Bots have been an issue for digital advertisers since the early 2000s, but mobile bots are a newer problem. Not only do mobile ads provide a new venue for fraud, but those committing click fraud have evolved their tactics to be more sophisticated to try to mask their bad behavior.

Kristina: Tell us about first steps.

Kara: The first thing that mobile advertisers should do to minimize bot traffic is to identify whether they have a bot problem to begin with. Being involved and tracking campaigns can help to spot red flags early. If there is evidence of fraud, it's important to determine which publisher is the source of bot traffic and take steps to either send a warning or, in more serious cases, block the publisher.

Working with a reputable ad publisher is important, too, and they should have their own monitoring algorithms in place to detect false clicks. Make sure that your advertising agreements contain language on non-human traffic and how it is handled.

Kristina: Is dealing with bots the same in both online and mobile?

Kara: It is similar, but there are bot tactics that have been developed specifically to target mobile ads and in-app ads. Certain tactics, such as manipulating mobile location data, are unique to bots on mobile.

Kristina: Do you foresee mobile bot issues continuing through 2017?

Kara: I do. As the issue is magnified more and more, however, advertisers and publishers are recognizing that more needs to be done to crack down on fraudulent activity. Advertisers are becoming more aware of bots on mobile and in turn are seeking out ways to protect themselves. Exchanges, in turn, are more incentivized than ever to keep their inventory clean and put measures in place to stop click fraud to retain the trust of advertisers. Otherwise, they risk losing customers to other (seemingly) more reputable publishers.

But, as I mentioned before, those committing ad fraud are evolving to find new ways to get around publisher and advertiser efforts to put an end to bots. So it will be an ongoing process.

Tags: bot fraud, bot security, G2 Crowd, mobile bots, mobile marketing

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