Eight Out of 10 Premium Publishers Admit They Don’t Have Insight Into How Their Traffic Is Audited by Third-Party Measurement Companies

Dec 08, 2016

The burden of proof is on publishers to defend their web traffic, yet 80% admit they don’t have insight into how their traffic is audited, raising questions about which traffic is non-human traffic (NHT). At the same time, marketers are no longer willing to pay for NHT, with 74% of publishers reporting that traffic quality issues are part of pre-sales discussions, and 68% stating they have received requests for information (RFIs) with acceptable NHT thresholds. This disconnect is leading to lost money and frustration for both advertisers and publishers.

These statistics are included in a new report from The 614 Group titled, “2017 State of Digital Publishers’ Fight Against NHT: To Block NHT or Not to Block,” and sponsored by Distil Networks, Inc., a provider of bot detection and mitigation. The report includes a survey of 40 of the comScore 250 publishers, including AccuWeather, A&E Networks, Hulu, Thomson Reuters and Univision, about their attitudes and experiences with NHT, both as an internal issue and as a discussion point with clients considering direct buys of their inventory.

The report brings to the fore the lesser known cascading negative effect of even nominal amounts of NHT. That is, the impact of bots collecting cookies on legitimate publishers’ sites, only to lure those advertising dollars away to nefarious players.

Within the full report, the following key findings are developed in depth:

  • Most publishers (77%) are victims of NHT; yet only 38% purchase traffic, meaning NHT is getting onto their sites through other means of no fault to the publisher. For this reason, many marketers are losing trust in the digital advertising marketplace.
  • Spurred by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), marketers are no longer willing to pay for NHT. 74% of publishers said that traffic quality issues are part of pre-sales discussions, and 68% said they’ve received RFIs mandating acceptable NHT thresholds.
  • The cost of fraud is greater than the NHT that arrives on a publisher’s site. It should also include consideration of the ad units purchased by advertisers in the open ad exchanges like synthetic user profiles created by “cookied bots.”
  • Publishers must draw a connection between the $8.2 billion lost to fraud and campaign-level damage. Almost 70% of publishers believe that it’s possible to calculate the ROI of effective anti-NHT efforts on a per-campaign and per-client basis.
  • 70% of publishers believe it’s possible to proactively block NHT, before a page loads and before cookies are set, yet less than one-third of the publishers take that approach.