Whether bots are bad for business may depend on who you ask. Though many players in the digital ad ecosystem still say they aren’t sure, advertisers consider bots more of a problem than publishers.
According to October 2015 research from Distil Networks and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), 48% of digital ad sellers were not sure how much of a negative effect bots had on digital ad campaigns. Among ad buyers, that share fell to 40%.
Ad buyers, meanwhile, were more likely to put a significant figure on how much damage bots were doing. Eighteen percent of advertisers said the negative effect amounted to 26% or more, while 19% said it came to 11% to 25%. Among ad sellers, the responses were 12% and 2%, respectively. Meanwhile, nearly twice as many ad sellers as buyers said the effect was smaller than 10%.
What to do about the problem was unclear: about two in five buyers and sellers alike had no opinion on paying for a solution that would certify traffic as human, though a fair number were willing to pay a premium of less than 25% for such a service.
Earlier this year, Distil Networks reported that 22.8% of web traffic worldwide in 2014 came from “bad bots,” while a little over one-third came from “good bots” (like search indexing). Human traffic had dropped from 54.8% of the worldwide total in 2013 to 40.9% in 2014, though bad bot traffic had dipped slightly.