Designing Bots to Combat Digital Ad Fraud

There are few things as frustrating to marketers as digital ad fraud. On the rise since the beginning of digital advertising, online ad fraud can take many forms. It can range anywhere from bots programmed to create false impressions on ads, to a consumer opening two YouTube videos at the same time and only watching one.

No matter what form it takes, digital ad fraud continues to stump marketers across all sectors. Some digital marketers say they lose up to 30 percent of their marketing budgets due to poor strategic planning, incorrect channel focus and fraud. It was reported that ad fraud cost advertisers $16.4 billion USD in 2017, which equates to a staggering 10 percent of all advertising campaigns.

According to a joint report published by the Association of National Advertisers and WhiteOps, “traffic sourcing,” otherwise known as buying your ad traffic from non-organic sources, contributed to 3.6 times as much ad fraud than non-sourced traffic, making it the number one source of ad fraud. In 2016, nine percent of desktop display ad spending and 22 percent of video ad spending was fraudulent.

The report also states that fraudulent bots are thriving online because they’re becoming more sophisticated, while simultaneously getting better at resembling humans. With that much being wasted year after year, it is essential for advertisers to consider other methods of combating ad fraud.

Most marketers are fully aware of the problem, and some emerging programs are working to stop ad fraud from further negatively impacting digital advertising. One such project, NOIZ, has developed a decentralized ad network backed by permissioned blockchain technology that is designed to prevent ad fraud through their Proof of Engagement cognitive model.

What makes NOIZ unique from other blockchain advertising platforms is NIKOLA, their cognitive bot. NIKOLA is designed to chat with users, and through Natural Language Processing (NLP), is able to learn from every user it engages with. NLP allows the bot to become more intelligent with the more engagement received – hence the term ‘cognitive’ bot. NIKOLA is also able to converse in multiple languages through freestyle text or voice messages, so it can be used for international advertising as well as domestic.

NOIZ’s AI chatbot enables brands to drive real engagement with real users in real time, anywhere in the world. All conversations between users and NIKOLA are then stored on a permissioned blockchain, keeping data safe for both brands and their consumers.

The ability for a chatbot to engage with consumers also decreases the risk of ad fraud exponentially, as the current bots programmed to interact with digital ads will not be able to engage with NIKOLA the same way a human can. Therefore, NIKOLA will be able to filter out true consumers and bots, reducing the cost to advertisers and brands alike.

This technology is called Run-time Execution Monitoring (REM). REM is able to determine whether it is a bot or a human interacting with their website based on behaviour. For example, a human fills out online forms slowly and often sporadically, clicking on and off the webpage at will.

When a bot is programmed to fill out that same online form, they will quickly and efficiently complete the form, without moving their mouse or clicking on various parts of the page. Through these behaviours, REM would be able to tell which user is a human or a bot, therefore filtering out the bots from their results.

In addition to NIKOLA’s functionality, users of the platform are further incentivized to engage with ads through tokens and an ample reward system. Users are classified by Nikola – classifications range from fully engaged to disengaged – and are thereby rewarded based on their classification. Tokens can then be used like coupons on advertiser’s websites, donated to social impact organizations, giving users the autonomy to choose what to do with their earnings.

Through a combination of Proof of Engagement, REM, and the cognitive bot NIKOLA, the ecosystem NOIZ could be a solution for advertisers and brands across all sectors.

Despite the rise of ad fraud in recent years, there are solutions for marketers to consider. With emerging projects such as NOIZ on the horizon, ad fraud could soon vanish – or at least, no longer a thorn in advertisers’ sides.