This morning the BBC is reporting that Bots account for 61% of web traffic (full story).
A recent Incapsula study found that total bot traffic is up 21% since their last study in 2012 and now represents 61.5% of website visitors. The study sites two reasons for the increased growth: evolution of web based services, e.g. SEO services that crawl a site at a rate if 30-50 visits per day, and increased activity of already existing bots due to shorter cycle rates.
The study also reports that 31% of bots are still malicious, but that there are much fewer spammers. “While the relative percentage of malicious bots remains unchanged, there is a noticeable reduction in Spam Bot activity, which decreased from 2% in 2012 to 0.5% in 2013,” which the study partly attributes to Google’s anti-spam campaign.
The study also points out that the activity of “Other Impersonators” (a group which consists of unclassified bots with hostile intentions) increased by 8%. These bots generally attempt to take on the identity of other legitimate services, like a search engine.
While the latest increase in bot activity brings digital security to the forefront of the conversation, it is also important for the legitimacy of the publisher stats and numbers for advertisers. Agencies must always think about how interpret first party figures, how to verify with 3rd party services, and and be on the lookout for outliers.