Addressing the Analytics Fraud Problem

Coming out of 2022, it’s clear that many marketers continue to struggle with the scope of traffic fraud. There’s a right way to address the problem and a wrong way. 2023 will see the beginning of a culture change as we begin to finally appropriately address the analytics fraud problem.

This post is part of our 2023 Data Transformation Outlook series

Traffic Fraud, Bots, and All of Us Waking Up to the Real Issue

This year will see an accelerated shift in focus related to traffic fraud and bots. It’s high time.

We operate with the assumption that there is some level of data distortion from stuff outside our control, like ad blockers and cookie opt-in. I mean, look, we actively control for that as much as we can—calculating opt-out rates, dropping snippets of code on the site to see (generally) what percentage of traffic might be using ad blockers. We’ve accepted the impact on our data from these ad blockers, and as a result we’ve developed tunnel vision, focusing so hard on what data we DON’T have that we forgot to check the integrity of the data we DO have.

There isn’t a heck of a lot we can do about the data we can’t collect, but in 2023, I expect us to shift focus to data we CAN collect.

Shifting the Locus of Control

Why the shift? All this time we’ve spent on issues beyond our control is time we’ve ignored the growing issue of bots and fraud. Over the last 20 years, fraud hasn’t gotten less sophisticated by any means–it’s maturing at an increasing rate. That means there are more bots crawling your website and more fraud impacting your advertising. Spooky!

The observed traffic composition for display and social ads Is 96% bots, as demonstrated by this graphic. This is a problem.

So now what? Do we need another tool to QA data? No. Let’s think bigger. Today’s bot identification continues to be myopic and reactive.

What are the bots doing now to get around our filters? Let’s adjust and wait until they figure out how to get around the new filters.

Hey, Analytics, Who’s the Human?

The future isn’t identifying bots, but instead identifying humans. Analytics tools that use stitching methodologies to create a better definition of a “User”are actually just creating a better definition of “Machine.” The traffic is coming from the same machine, but we aren’t asking if there is a person using that machine.

In 2023, I hope to see the analytics industry focus on the stuff that will help us actually create value, that is, I hope we end up working together to figure out what a HUMAN looks like.

That way, we’ll know that our decisions aren’t based oh data that’s completely diluted with garbage.

Stay Tuned: Excitement Ahead!

We’ve gotten a huge head start on identifying humans (and bots and fraud) at Search Discovery. We’re looking forward to talking about it more soon. I don’t expect our industry to completely change in 2023, but I expect that the smart, early adopters will want to pull back the curtains to see what’s there.
Privacy by Design & Customer Trust

Getting Serious about Measuring Media Impact

Pull back the curtains with us on bots and the analytics fraud problem. Let’s start a conversation, here, today.

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