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Machine Learning Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Yeshim Deniz, Bob Gourley, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

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Online Bot Traffic Spikes During Q4 2012 Holiday Shopping Season

Solve Media (www.SolveMedia.com) issued its latest Bot Traffic Market Advisory update today, revealing an alarming increase in bot traffic during the fourth quarter of 2012, peaking during the busy holiday shopping season. The company attributes the spike to a marked increase in online activity and advertising expenditures during Q4 2012. Solve Media identified that suspicious activity increased from 26 percent in Q3 to highs of 40 percent in Q4 of 2012. During the same timeframe, the company identified that 25 percent of the suspicious activity in Q4 was the result of bot traffic, up from only 10 percent in Q3.

Solve Media runs advertisers’ campaigns on its network, consisting of more than 6,000 publishers, and uses its proprietary TYPE-IN™ technology to prevent bot traffic, improve user experience, and ensure campaign performance. Solve Media’s anti-bot CAPTCHA security platform specifically addresses bot traffic affecting publishers, ad agencies and advertisers by authenticating that audiences are, in fact, human. The company has been monitoring and deterring bot traffic for more than 3 years.

Bots crowd web traffic and cause advertisers to pay for impressions that are not being seen by human beings. Bots can undermine the security of the web and cause harm by stealing publisher content, creating spam assets and posting inappropriate content.

“Solve Media is bridging the gap between the security and advertising communities, “ said Chris Wysopal, CTO of Veracode and a member of Solve Media’s Security Advisory Council. “Advertising to non-humans is simply ineffective and publishers who have taken a proactive stance against bot traffic are to be commended.”

In order to better differentiate between levels of suspicious activity and useful bots from nefarious bots, Solve Media categorized bots by their interests:

  • Level 1: Green – Bots used for research.
  • Level 2: Yellow – Unsophisticated, brute force bots. Mostly used by spammers.
  • Level 3: Orange – Sophisticated fraud bots working to register fraudulent accounts, impact polls, and steal ad budgets.
  • Level 4: Red – Bots seeking to cause harm, spread viruses, and steal identities.

“Through our proven security solutions, we are working to eradicate the bot scourge that is impacting all digital publishers and advertisers,” said Ari Jacoby, CEO, Solve Media. “In Q4 we found that bots cost marketers at least $1 billion in display advertising and more than $2 billion in digital advertising investments – a considerable loss that impairs return on investment calculations. With Solve Media, brands are guaranteed memorable engagements with consumers and brand lift, on a performance-basis.”

Key findings from the Q4 Bot Market Update include:

  • Higher activity and growth among level 2 bots
  • A geographic analysis that shows significant increases in bot traffic in two hotspots
    • Bot traffic in The United Arab Emirates nearly doubled in Q4, from 33 percent to 64 percent
    • Bot traffic in the U.S. grew from 16 percent to 32.36 percent

About Solve Media

Solve Media (www.SolveMedia.com) was founded by veteran entrepreneurs and technologists focused on innovative Internet advertising and security solutions. The company’s proprietary online advertising platform, the TYPE-IN™, was designed to create highly effective opportunities for brands to engage online. With the platform, Solve Media guarantees brand message delivery, brand lift and return on investment for advertisers. Additionally, the platform creates new revenue opportunities for publishers, and saves time for consumers. Backed by First Round Capital, New Atlantic Ventures, AOL Ventures, Bullpen Capital and prominent angel investors, Solve Media is based in New York City and Philadelphia.

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