EU Traffic quality landscape 2016

traffic quality

Generating traffic to your website is a common goal if you’re looking to earn revenue from selling products or services online. If you are targeting customers within the European Union, you may have already encountered common fraud tactics for artificially inflating impression numbers – especially in programmatic.
Making purchases based on the wrong quality KPI’s can have a major impact on your online visibility and ROI.

Online Media and Traffic Quality

So you have your usual set of KPI’s you look at – engagement, clickthrough, maybe you look at viewability numbers to give you an idea of what’s going on with your money spent. But are you sure that you account for all relevant metrics? How much does a viewable impression worth for you if no human eyes ever seen it? Is money paid for a clickthrough well spent if the click was programmed?

‘Bad Bots’ Impact Traffic

Website traffic from “bad bots,” referring to automated, fake clicks and visits, is notoriously hard to detect; and more prevalent than actual human traffic in many cases. You may be even more susceptible to this type of fraud if you’re using software to automate your purchasing and selling of ad space (programmatic buying), although your direct buy deals might also be affected. And this impact on traffic sweeps across all platforms and all forms of online media.

Last year we saw many examples of widespread issues with EU traffic including programmed Facebook impressions in the U.K. at nearly 30 percent on Apple devices, with numbers exceeding 60 percent in some EU countries. And similar numbers can be found on popular browsers like Firefox, Chrome, and Opera and social media platforms like Pinterest.

Fraud Goes Where Money Goes

If you had the notion that reconfiguring a botnet or clickfarm enterprise once detected and placed on a blacklist is complicated – think again.
They are watching their KPI’s for sure and know exactly where the money is – high CPM media types are their favorite hunting ground. “Bot fraud” costs advertisers more than $7.2 billion in 2016 alone, according to the Association of National Advertisers.

The comparison with’s European measurement shows similar results and reinforces the fact that fraud follows the money. Out of €36B of ad spending, more than 6 percent was on worthless efforts in 2016, accounting for €2.33B in losses – just to reiterate: this is a lot of money, dragged from the pockets of advertisers, cut from the margins of agencies and thrown right into fraudsters hands for impressions that never generated any sort of value for anyone, except the owner of the bot network or clickfarm.

worthless impressions in Europe and Germany

The trend is similar if you look at the percentage of worthless mobile and desktop impressions in some of the prominent EU countries:

Képernyőfotó 2017-03-02 - 12.57.29

Large Audience + Low Effort = Higher Infection

Mobile exploded in 2016 as far as a source of traffic. So, it should come as no surprise that fraudsters are going after this large audience. And because it doesn’t take too much of an effort to generate misleading metrics, there’s a higher infection rate. The evidence of mobile traffic issues comes from a look at the percentage of bad impressions.

worthless impressions on mobile vs desktop

Advertisers are willing to pay more to acquire and retain iOS (Apple) users, which equates to higher ad budgets. It’s this combination that’s appealing for fraudsters. The same is true on Android devices. In fact, nearly 20 percent of impressions on Android, which is seen as being a highly valuable platform to advertisers, are bad. The news isn’t all that good for mobile browsers either:

worthless impressions mobile browsers

Buying Direct from Premium Publishers Doesn’t Mean You’re Safe

Even if you focus your efforts on premium publishers to reach audiences throughout the EU doesn’t mean you’re safe. The problem is that fraudulent bots masquerade as human visitors and skew metrics. And no publishers are immune to automated advertising fraud. With premium publisher traffic, it’s bot traffic and ad injection that often pose risks for advertisers because the publishers are often unaware that some of their metrics have been inflated by bots. Direct buys have lower fraud than programmatic buying, but the potential for loss from investments in online media that won’t always generate real traffic is still significant.

Bots Have a Widespread Impact on Traffic Quality

A study of roughly 3 million websites found that bots inflated monetized audiences on some of those sites by as much as 50 percent. With programmatic ads, bots tend to gravitate towards video ads since this is an appealing format for many online users. Sourced traffic is another appealing target for botnet operators. There are also high percentage of “suspicious” traffic on web browsers like Amazon Silk and Yandex.

Barriers to Adopting Ad Buying Technology

With more than 200 million Internet users who block ads and billions of dollars wasted on unseen impressions, the idea of high-tech automated ad buying is appealing. Yet more than half of all businesses in the United States and many EU nations are hesitant to embrace programmatic buying because of concerns over ad fraud and brand safety. And it’s understandable not wanting to take the risk of dishing out big bucks for a ROI that may not be what’s expected.

Making Safer Ad Buys

If you depend on the EU market for the majority of your online-generated revenue, these stats provide an incentive to be more proactive with your buying decisions. Demand transparency, especially in high-CPM segments. Another proactive step you can take is to work with an ad verification company that stays on top of the trends in ad fraud and media quality.

At, our goal is to save you time and money by tapping into quality traffic with proven techniques. We’re an ad verification company that’s able to generate return-on-investments up to 35 percent for our clients on digital marketing campaigns by identifying potential sources of ad fraud in digital traffic that won’t produce real results. Contact us today to learn more about our budget-pleasing end2end solutions.

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