'About 36% of all Web traffic is considered fake, the product of computers hijacked by viruses and programmed to visit sites, according to estimates cited recently by the Interactive Advertising Bureau trade group.
So-called bot traffic cheats advertisers because marketers typically pay for ads whenever they are loaded in response to users visiting Web pages—regardless of whether the users are actual people.'
'Many ad executives only now are coming to grips with the reality of fraud. Part of the problem is that estimates of online ad fraud are difficult to nail down. Ad-fraud detection firm White Ops last year reported that fraudsters had stolen some $6 billion in the U.S. alone.'
'Verizon Wireless and L'Oréal, among others, in recent months demanded free ad space to make good on ad spending that was inflated by fraud, executives say.
Marketers also are making deals in which they pay only on concrete evidence that consumers signed up for their products or services.
And advertisers are turning to online-ad auditing firms to check for fraudulent traffic.'
Those are some big numbers.
John Wanamaker famously said "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." The online services purported to have solved this, but apparently only succeeded to get Mr Wannamaker partially satisfied, if he were alive today, perhaps he would say "2/3 of my advertising works, I just don't know which 2/3."
My guess is there is not that much that can be done to stop it on the front end, and so back end fraud detection, transaction lifecycle, and pattern recognition will have to be brought in to address the gap. The amount of money at stake will drive specialized tools and services.