'Bots', YouTube and advertisers

24 September 2015
Tackling 'bots' after European researchers published their findings into 'bot' traffic on YouTube

On 31 July 2015 European researchers (UC3M, Imdea, NEC Labs Europe and Polito) published their findings in a paper entitled Understanding the detection of fake view fraud in Video Content Portals.

It finds that Google may have been charging marketers for advertisements it places on YouTube, “even after its own fraud-detection systems have allegedly identified that the ‘viewer’ is in fact a ‘bot’.”(‘Bots’ are a computer generated programs that mimic the behaviour of internet user). ISBA is sure that Google will tackle the problem promptly to restore trust in its software as trust is paramount for advertisers to carry on advertising.  

The industry as a whole, especially agencies and publishers, need to up their game and take ‘bots’ on. Agencies have an integral part to play in this issue as vendors/suppliers. Tackling ‘bot’ traffic is too big an issue to simply confine the blame to Google and Facebook. Advertisers in the US alone spend £250bn on advertising and it is estimated that they will lose more than $6bn globally to ‘bots’ in 2015 each year across both display and video advertising according to the ANA (Association of National Advertisers).

There needs to be an accelerated anti ‘bot’ effort by all parties within the digital ecosystem to tackle or minimise ‘bot’ traffic. ‘Bots’ have serious effects on the industry as a whole as the money generated could be funding illicit activities, and at worst potentially terrorism. It also undermines advertisers’ confidence and if advertisers’ confidence is undermined they will not spend money, which will have severe consequences on our industry.

On the findings by European researchers Bob Wootton ISBA’s director of advertising and media said.  

“If the findings by the European researchers holds scrutiny when Google establishes contact with them. Google will need to explain to advertisers why it has been charging them for ads placed on YouTube. Even after its own fraud-detection systems have allegedly identified that the ‘viewer’ is in fact a ‘bot’. What preventative measures will it take to implement adequate steps required to minimise ‘bot’ activity? ‘Bots’ are a serious matter as they have cost the advertising industry millions if not billions and could potentially undermine their confidence in the whole ecosystem.” Bob Wootton ISBA’s director of media and advertising 

Notes to editors

Media enquiries - contact ISBA's News and Communications team - 0207 291 9020 - 07901 528 980 

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