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Ecommerce see 30% of traffic being invalid, polluting databases, report warns

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Retail media networks thrive on data, but a new report warns that invalid traffic generated by bots could well derail growth as its impact on ecommerce starts to grow.

According to a study by Fraud0 – which analysed a sample of more than 2.9 billion sessions from its customers in 2023 – 21% of internet traffic is invalid. To put that in context, one in five website visits is not a real person, but from an automated programme, or bot, with no intention nor capacity to buy anything. And from a retailer point of view, that is data that could potential undermine retail media targeting data.

According to the study, certain marketing channels are more vulnerable than others. The study finds that Google Shopping sees 67% of traffic being invalid, while The Trade Desk clocks up nearly 55%. Criteo comes in at 15.53%. When grouped, 23% comes from programmatic ads and 15% from native advertising.

Across industry sectors, gambling fares worst, with 39% invalid traffic. However, ecommerce and retail sees almost a third (29.5%) of its traffic potentially being invalid. Most invalid traffic (64%) originates in Germany, with 11% coming from the US, the study found – although this is more likely the result of cyber criminals using proxy servers based in these countries, rather than being located there themselves. 

The vulnerabilities of ecommerce

According to the study ecommerce platforms are at “significant risks from invalid traffic, in this case bots”. These platforms, it warns, offer multiple opportunities for attacks. They hold a lot of customer data, including personal information, contact details and payment data, while at the same time, serving ads. This, avers the report, makes them a sitting duck for ad fraud. 

In addition, ecommerce sites have valuable product information such as description texts and price information, which is highly favoured by scraper bots.

The upshot of all this is that invalid data skews retailer performance data, analytics and KPIs. This gives a false impression of campaign performance. With bots now routinely also lending consent, data is being polluted.

While retail media grows, protecting that data is increasingly vital if its is to be of value to brands. 

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