‘Internet inversion’ increases bot traffic — and what it means for you
The majority of web traffic is no longer human. Today, there are more bots than human users online watching ads, posting on Twitter, trolling public figures, and making purchases. It’s a phenomenon known as the “internet inversion.”
“It’s not like most people who are interacting with your website right now are customers and a really small portion is bots,” says Brady Harrison, Kount Senior Data Analyst. “It’s more like half regular people and half bots — at least.”
While bots have made up at least half of all internet traffic for several years, a 2021 report reveals that bots today are responsible for 64% of all internet traffic. And 39% of this automated traffic is solely from “bad” bots. Moreover, both of these figures are projected to increase exponentially in the coming months and years.
Of course, some automated traffic is a good thing. For instance, good bots are essential for everyday digital interactions. But businesses must be vigilant in stopping malicious bot activity. To do that, they need to implement a bot detection solution that can protect business operations.
Businesses and brands lose millions to click fraud and fake ad impressions
Malicious bot activity has hit the engagement and digital advertising industries particularly hard in recent years. For example, major digital advertising companies have lost hundreds of millions to third-party companies that promised to increase ad views significantly.
But those ad views were fake. They were just bots mimicking human behavior and giving the impression that the ads were performing well — too well, in fact. The companies caught on after realizing their conversion rates were too low compared to total ad views.
These “click fraud” schemes — in which bots are programmed to repeatedly click ads, inflating engagement and draining ad revenue — don’t just affect big businesses. And it’s not just fraudsters who perpetuate them. In 2018, a small business owner filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming Facebook inflated potential ad views, NBC News reported.
This mirage of user engagement is all too pervasive on social media platforms, where influencers and businesses can use bots to inflate likes and follows for brand deals and sponsorships. While it may not seem like your typical dark-web activity, “click fraud” and view fraud can be extremely costly. Not to mention, it can damage brand loyalty and ad revenue.
Botnet detection tools protect the customer journey
Bot-driven click fraud isn’t the only type of bot activities businesses need to be aware of. Bad actors can program bots for card testing, credential stuffing, promo abuse, and more.
“Most people don’t think they have a bot problem, but bots are everywhere and potentially attacking every stage of their customer journey,” said Harrison.
In fact, businesses experience bot attacks at every stage of the customer’s buying journey, according to Kount’s Bot Landscape and Impact report. For example, 52% of businesses said they experience bot attacks at account creation. 49% said they happen at account login, and 40% said they occur at checkout. At the time of the survey, 58% of businesses surveyed said they encountered more than 50 bot attacks in 12 months.
Because bad actors can program bots on automated scripts, they can outperform humans in sheer volume, speed, and the number of attempts per action.
“Just in terms of attempts, it’s a losing battle,” said Harrison. “Right now, it’s at least 50/50 bot-to-human attempts. But that will absolutely increase within the next 12 months. In five years, it could be as high as 90/10.”
In 2020, Walmart discovered just this. The mega-retailer blocked some 20 million bots attempting to buy PlayStation 5 consoles in the first 30 minutes of its release. Essentially, bad actors target old and new fraud frameworks with highly sophisticated bots that are more difficult to detect.
One thing is sure: Bots, good and bad, make up the majority of internet traffic, and their share will only grow. So businesses must be proactive in subverting and thwarting bots attacks. Without the proper botnet detection tools, a bot attack is inevitable on the future web.