Bots, Blockers, and Bad Data

The modern boogiemen of digital marketing


If you’re like many other marketers, you’ve realized that more and more of your customers and prospects are on social media, browsing blogs, and using the web for their everyday purchasing decisions. To keep your brand in front of them, you’ve invested your valuable marketing dollars in pay-per-click ads via Google AdWords or social media. You’ve seen the number of hits on those ads, traffic to your webpages, and “views” or impressions that your ad received during its lifespan, and it looks like your dollars are well-spent, even though you aren’t seeing any increase in conversions from your website, or trackable purchases.


Unfortunately, as business and consumer interactions on the web have increased, so too have the complexities of that relationship. If your metrics aren’t showing calculable conversion rates based on ad results and website traffic reports, fraudulent analytics could be clouding the response data and absorbing your marketing dollars. Here’s a quick breakdown of some digital boogiemen that are out to get you, including how to identify them, and how to avoid them.





Bots are automated scripts or programs that crawl the web. Some are useful, such as Google’s indexing bots that make it possible for your site to show up in search results. Others, like click fraud bots, crawl the web and generate false traffic on pay-per-click (PPC) ads—using up your ad budget without generating any real, interested customer leads. These bots prevent your ads from being seen by the customers you are trying to reach, and, by negatively affecting your relevance scores and credibility as an advertiser, can make it more difficult for you to run successful PPC campaigns later on.


How can you prevent click fraud on your digital advertising? Though it can be hard to tell which clicks are real and which are fake, the right PPC strategy and targeting can help. With regular analysis of your data, you can search for patterns to identify potential click fraud and adjust the reports to minimize its effects on your future advertising dollars and analytics. Then, the good data can be used to identify stronger target audiences for your next series of ads, which will be less susceptible to bot traffic.




Ad-blockers grew significantly in popularity from 2014-2015, and continue to be downloaded at increasing rates. Because they block all ads, including those that popup, cover the page, or carry dangerous malware, they can help internet browsers feel like they are experiencing a safer and less cluttered web experience. However, they also prevent honest advertisers like you from being able to reach your target audiences—the audiences that you are paying to reach—and can even prevent your website from collecting valuable analytics that track visitors and their activities.


How can you prevent ad blockers from keeping your brand from your target audience? Though the technology continues to adapt, including “ad-blocker-blockers” and other ways advertisers try to get around consumer ad-blocking, the most effective way to avoid them is to make better advertisements. Research suggests that if you are generating user-friendly and relevant advertisements that effectively target the right audience, your prospects and customers are less likely to hide, report, or block your ads. Many brands are also embracing other advertising methods such as sponsored content to get exposure to the right audiences without relying as much on traditional PPC ad-spend.




Modern marketers realize that data is critical to successful marketing initiatives, and are consistently collecting data to build more complex and exhaustive profiles for the ideal consumer. When behavioral data is collected from digital advertising, it becomes easier and more cost-effective to get the right marketing message to your most valuable consumers. However, when this data is clouded by ad fraud or bot traffic, it creates a false picture of the customer’s journey and causes marketing dollars to be wasted on the wrong strategy. Ultimately, bad data not only costs money in the short run—it also keeps you from effectively connecting with your customer base.


How can you prevent bad data from the web from affecting your target audience data and customer database? Constant analysis of your marketing ROI, online advertising and website analytics is the best way to protect yourself from bad marketing data. When you are familiar with the daily, weekly, and monthly patterns on your online ads and landing pages, you’ll quickly recognize when something is suspicious or doesn’t match your existing customer profiles. You can compare this data to results from your print marketing for a more robust, cross-channel picture of your customer engagement, and target your online efforts more effectively. As your online audience targeting improves, it is easier to track the results and avoid acting on bad data.



As the landscape of online advertising continues to change, it’s increasingly important to be cognizant of your digital marketing. If you keep track of your analytics on a daily and weekly basis, you’ll be able to identify suspicious or fraudulent activity quickly, and act accordingly.


Despite (or perhaps because of) our increasingly digital world, the importance of print marketing channels cannot be overstated. As more and more users research and complete their purchasing decisions on the web, studies continue to show that print drives customers online, and any comprehensive, effective marketing plan will take advantage of the benefits of both online and print media to reach and interact with your audience on multiple levels. The ability to track leads from print advertising has developed over time, including strategies such as trackable URLs, personalized URLs, QR codes, and/or custom discount codes—and in contrast to your digital marketing efforts, your advertisement or direct mail piece can’t be blocked from being seen, or hijacked by bots.


For more information on how your printed marketing pieces have the staying power to enhance your digital efforts, keep reading here.


If you are interested in exploring your current digital marketing analytics or maximizing your MROI with effective digital or print advertising for your business, please reach out to Samantha Gordon at 603-298-5057, sgordon@rcbrayshaw.com, or contact us here.

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