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Blame bots for $1.5B in wasted ad spend this year

Solve Media says 10 percent of all online traffic is generated by bots, which hurt publishers and advertisers by generating fake ad clicks and false user accounts.

Bots are becoming a big problem for online advertisers and social media.
Ten percent of all online traffic is generated by bots, according to a study, and that means potentially $1.5 billion in ad spending will be wasted on the fake clickers.

Solve Media, which makes an online advertising platform, noted in a new report that eMarketer predicts online display ad spend will reach $15.3 billion this year. But with a surge in bots, more and more of the clicks on ads are generated by software, not people.

Solve Media says that since 2011, it has witnessed a 400 percent rise in "aberrant traffic" across online registration, voting, commenting, and contact services.

Bots, computer programs that automate tasks, have become a big problem for online advertisers and publishers. They not only create fake clicks that cause companies to pay for ads that aren't actually seen by human beings and also generate false user accounts, inappropriate comments, and stolen content.

Facebook, for one, has faced some some criticism about clickbots. The company gets paid whenever someone clicks on an ad that advertises an ad client's page, but some Facbook ad buyers have complained about paying for fake ad clicks. A few months ago, Limited Run -- a service that allows labels, musicians, and artists to create their own stores for selling digital and physical products -- ditched its Facebook page because it found 80 percent of clicks were coming from bots.

Solve Media determined the wasted ad-spending figures by reviewing about 100 million monthly identity authentications across 5,000 publishers from January 2011 to August 2012.

Here are other findings:

  • The majority of bot traffic comes from the U.S. based on total numbers.
  • Singapore and Taiwan had the highest percentage of bot traffic.