Automated traffic through bots has been a part of the Internet almost since its inception, but until recently mobile sites were largely left alone. A new report from Solve Media found that approximately 29% of traffic to mobile sites was considered suspicious and 14% of it was confirmed to be coming from bots. This is still quite a bit lower than the bot traffic to regular sites which is as high as 40% with 29% being confirmed as coming from bots.
Mobile website owners are concerned because much of this traffic is coming from regular PCs running bot software which is coded specifically to appear as if it were a mobile device. Hackers have found that mobile sites are often an easy back door into otherwise secured sites. This is because most of the mobile sites have little or even no security on them.
This type of suspicious traffic is coming from around the world, but Singapore and the United Arab Emirates are the biggest offenders with up to 71% of traffic originating from Singapore being flagged as suspicious.
It is clear that the risk to websites from hackers using simulated mobile bots is significant, but it won’t be too difficult to develop effective security measures which can help lock down these sites. The basic concept will be the same as with the full version of web pages. The real concern for many websites and ad providers is the amount it is costing to display advertisements to bot traffic.
Since a lot of advertising on mobile sites is paid using the CPM method (the website gets paid per 1000 times the ad is displayed) it is easy to see how this type of fake traffic can end up costing advertisers a significant amount of money. Even the ads which use a CPC option or other method of advertising will be getting ripped off from the artificially high amount of traffic these mobile sites are using. Solve Media estimates that mobile bot traffic could cost the industry up to one billion dollars in fraudulent advertising.
This is largely due to the fact that there has been such a huge increase in the amount of advertising dollars being spent on mobile sites over the past year. This budget is expected to continue to climb which is why both advertisers and website publishers will need to work together to come up with effective ways to sort out the legitimate traffic from the bot traffic.
While there are some types of software which can help in this area, it is far from fool proof and will need to be updated and improved before either the website owners or the advertisers themselves can feel confident that every time they display an ad it is being shown to an actual person.
How many of you run dedicated mobile sites or mobile versions of your main sites? Have you noticed a spike in traffic over the last several months? Are you using any anti-bot software on your web pages? I can really see this becoming a major issue if it is not addressed in the near future. I’ll be interested to follow along as this story develops in the coming months.