April 13, 2015

The Effect of Non-Human Traffic on Your Ad Campaign’s ROI

Erin DeGiorgi Erin DeGiorgi
Marketing Communications Associate
Lauren Amira Lauren Amira
Product Marketing Manager

This is the first in a series of blog posts on combating the industry issues of ad fraud, non-human traffic and viewability. These posts will break down key impacts to the advertising ecosystem and share how comScore is leading the way in tackling these issues so that media buyers and sellers can stay ahead of the fraudsters.

One of the most frequent topics of discussion among the advertising industry these days is non-human traffic (NHT). And with good reason: Millions of dollars are lost each month due to one form or another of invalid traffic.

This is why, at comScore, we take NHT very seriously. From the early days of Media Metrix, we have used state-of-the-art techniques to filter NHT from our reporting, and have evolved our techniques over the last 13 years to detect the most sophisticated NHT as it emerges. Our acquisition of MdotLabs last year was the next step in advancing the NHT filtration in our products. As we grow our NHT measurement, we also want to share our learnings so that the industry as a whole can combat this threat. To do this, we are creating some materials for you, including a series of blog posts to explore the subject of NHT and its impact on advertising effectiveness. This is the first article in that series…here goes:

The Far-Reaching Impact of NHT
While the industry works to address issues associated with NHT, it is important for us to keep the goal of advertising at the heart of the discussion so that we can all understand how NHT infects advertising. An ad’s goal is to elicit feelings, emotions or behaviors among target consumers, and in order to do this the ad must reach a human within the target who has the opportunity to see it. If an ad is delivered to a non-human, it can’t possibly achieve its goal, right?

Not only is any ad that is served to a non-human a missed opportunity to impact a person, it also creates a negative ripple effect when it comes to evaluating campaign ROI. When NHT is included in campaign effectiveness measurement, the lift in key metrics will inherently be diluted. Just like in any other form of measurement, bad inputs lead to bad outputs, causing many to unjustly conclude that digital isn’t delivering on its promise. Not only do buyers pay the price for NHT on their campaigns, but sellers do as well when they aren’t able to demonstrate the value of advertising on their site. Across the board, this creates a lose-lose for both sides of the ecosystem.

That’s where ad validation – and, importantly, human delivery – comes in. In order for media buyers and sellers to create and serve ads that help advertising achieve its goal and prove its worth, there is a need for accurate measurement of ad campaigns that illustrates how an ad reaches its target consumers.

  • For media sellers, this measurement validates the value of their site, the audiences they sell and the overall value of digital advertising, often relative to other advertising channels.
  • For media buyers – both the advertisers and the agencies that support them – these metrics enable them to know they are reaching their audiences, giving their ads the opportunity to have an impact and using the right inputs into their effectiveness calculations.

Importantly, not all measurement is created equal, and there are a variety of ways the industry is approaching measurement and filtration of NHT across key delivery dimensions – such as viewability and audience delivery. We’ve just released a full report that delves much deeper into this topic:

 

Other articles in this series: