For five years now in a row, the annual Imperva Incapsula Bot Traffic Report is published. It is an ongoing statistical study of the bot traffic landscape. And according to the latest study, more than half of the world's internet traffic comes from bots.
What Are These Bots?
These bots are software applications that perform automated tasks for almost anything you can think of on the internet. And when I say "anything," I mean like anything in the range between bad and good, which we will talk more about later.
The Traffic Breakdown By Visitor Type
With the advancement of technology, bots are rather becoming so prevalent in the digital media ecosystem these days that even the most sophisticated publishers can't avoid it. But you don't have to worry (probably 50/50), because it does seem that though the internet traffic is mainly caused by these bots, it was due to an increase of Good Bots entering the ecosystem, while the Bad Bots remain nearly the same.
Regarding on the traffic breakdown between bots and humans, 2012 showed that 49 percent were from humans, while 51 percent for the bots (good bots 20 percent, bad bots 31 percent). In 2013, humans were 38.5 percent, while bots had 61.5 percent (good bots 31, bad bots 30.5).
In 2014, humans had 44 percent, while bots had 56 percent (good bots 27, bad bots 29). In 2015, humans were 51.5, while bots had 48.5 (good bots 19.5, bad bots 29). And lastly for 2016, 48.2 percent were from humans, while 51.8 percent (good bots 22.9, bad bots 28.9) from the bots.
What Makes This So Important?
Bots, in general, are extremely useful, the issue is that how it is used. For the Good Bots, these bots monitor or enhance the web. Examples of good bots are "spiders" and "feed feeders."
For "spiders," Google uses this to map the internet to expand their search result. In the case of the "feed feeders," Facebook uses this to refresh the newsfeed on mobile.
As for the Bad Bots, these are typically used for cyberattacks such as stealing content from websites, mimicking websites to capture ad dollars and create spam messages to collect user data. It is even capable of shutting down websites by overwhelming it with traffic.
The Ratio Between Good Bots And Bad Bots
According to the same study, Good Bots make up only about eight percent of all internet traffic, while its counterpart, the Bad Bots make up nearly 30 percent. And with the Bad Bots, majority of them impersonate real websites or people to bypass security measures.
Be Wary Of Bad Bots
Just last December, White Ops, a cybersecurity firm, uncovered the largest bad bot criminal ring in history, called the "Methbot." The Methbot reportedly stole millions of advertising dollars, which were mostly from ad networks by recreating common websites and stealing their ad traffic and revenue.
And according to the Association of National Advertisers and White Ops, they estimated that bots cost advertisers more than $7 billion in revenue annually. To fight this, ad agencies will be placing trackers on ads to ensure that their clients will only bid on quality inventory, which will ultimately save money for their clients and make for more effective ad campaigns.