It’s time for Europe to join the fight against bots and non-human traffic

Last week we hosted in-depth client briefing events in Paris, London and Madrid to scrutinize the world of bots and non-human traffic (NHT) by bringing together industry experts to discuss how best to tackle the threat to online video advertising monetisation. Leading the audience through the cloak-and-dagger world of bots and NHT was Michael Tiffany, CEO of White Ops, the pioneer in online bot fraud detection, and a company that Videology has recently partnered with. Michael, alongside our own Quinn Sanders, Director of Product Management, provided compelling insights into an often-discussed but rarely-understood industry issue.


Stating that NHT is a significant issue affecting the advertising industry is akin to highlighting that water is wet and the sun is hot. Yet there are so many misconceptions surrounding this topic that sometimes, it bears repeating.  According to a study by White Ops and the ANA,  NHT cost the industry $6.3 billion last year and one cannot afford to misunderstand, especially in Europe. Our events, which included highly educational presentations as well as in-depth panel discussions, aimed to address this. 


One of the initial reactions to Michael Tiffany’s presentation was a begrudging appreciation of just how sophisticated the deceptive practices have become. Those responsible for bots are smart enough to dupe the world’s leading security analysts working for the planet’s most successful companies. Michael’s speech highlighted the level of craft that is deployed by those looking to profit from NHT, including the insidious use of personal computers, and the eye-watering amounts of money they can earn from it if they are not stopped. During the event, jaws collectively dropped at the figures cited and the disreputable techniques deployed.


Our events were not exclusively dedicated to the downside – they were also a call to action to those in our industry to fight this growing scourge. Collaboration was the key word here, with our partnership with White Ops a significant step forward in the fight against the bots. 


From input received from attendees at our briefing events we established that the industry in Europe must not do the equivalent of putting a band-aid over a bullet hole by just relying on traditional methods of bot and NHT prevention. We need to work together to reduce the profitability of the crimes committed by fundamentally changing the way ads are bought and sold – the long-term effects of this for perpetrators could be catastrophic, and by following this model, bots and NHT can be shrunk by a huge degree. We must look to upset the applecart.  


Commenting on his participation in the events, Michael Tiffany said: “It’s been a pleasure to part the veil on the counter offensive that White Ops and Videology has been waging against the bot net operators, started in secret last year, and bring the effort into the light. I feel we successfully blew people’s minds in markets across Europe with the sophistication of the adversaries we face and the weapons we have brought to the fight.” 


Quinn Sanders, Product Management Director at Videology, added: “This is a very exciting time for our industry. The power of addressable digital video continues to demonstrate ROI to our clients. Our partnership with White Ops allows the buy and sell side to return maximum value to brands. It’s been a week full of productive dialogue and we look forward to continuing to push the envelope in terms of quality assurance tools available to clients within our platform.” 


Rich Astley, Managing Director, Videology UK and host of the London event, said: “This week really underlined the need for better education and access to information on the issue of non-human traffic.  Most advertisers are seeing the tip of the iceberg at the moment and it’s through partnerships such as our integration with White Ops that we can start to drive cross industry collaboration and commitment to remove the economic incentive for cybercriminals.”


It may seem odd to describe a meeting of industry spokespeople at a lush hotel as the scene of a battle cry, but that’s what it was, and it was heard across Europe. 


Join our next Videology & White Ops event in NYC this Thursday 18th June, 2015. RSVP at http://videologywhiteops.eventbrite.com

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