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Digital Content Next and White Ops Release Benchmark Report on Bot Fraud in Premium Publishing

September 28, 2015 | By DCN

Report finds 89% less bot traffic in video impressions and 75% less in standard display impressions when buying direct from premium publishers

New York, NY—(September 28, 2015)Digital Content Next (DCN), in partnership with White Ops, today released “DCN / White Ops Bot Benchmark Report: What Makes a Publisher Premium,” a study examining the prevalence of bots in premium advertising traffic, conducted across 32 DCN premium publisher sites. The groundbreaking report offers insights into ways in which the industry can contribute to effective solutions that lower fraud and improve the bottom line for advertisers.

The DCN / White Ops study builds upon the findings of the December 2014 study by the Association of National Advertisers and White Ops – “The Bot Baseline 2014” – which found that bots are the clearest risk to the integrity of the digital media business. According to the ANA and White Ops report, criminal bot networks are diverting an estimated $6 billion away from marketers, publishers and other good actors in the ecosystem. This loss represents more digital advertising revenue than the combined total of all 67 DCN member companies.

To understand the impact fraudulent traffic has on premium publishers, DCN commissioned this research with White Ops and 32 DCN members who elected to participate in the study. Conducted from June-August 2015, the DCN / White Ops study collected nearly six times the number of impressions as in the 2014 ANA study.

“Advertising fraud is an industry-wide problem that needs to be addressed by all participants,” said DCN CEO Jason Kint. “This 2015 report should be seen as a tool that allows the industry to study the habits and successful performance of highly trusted premium publishers. We want to see an ecosystem in which every site can rise to the cleanliness standard of the DCN publishers detailed in this report. At the same time, our members must continue to be diligent as fraud is an evolving problem and trust is earned each and every day.”

Findings from “DCN Bot Benchmark Report: What Makes a Publisher Premium” include:

  • DCN publishers see less bot traffic overall (3 percent) compared to other advertising campaigns deployed across a broader variety of websites (11 percent).
  • Buying direct from these premium publishers would have the effect of achieving the same low bot rates as the top 5.6 percent of ANA 2014 participants, with no additional implementation of policies or procedures on the part of advertisers.
  • An advertisement’s viewability and whether the visitor was human or bot are largely unrelated. Bot viewability almost perfectly mirrored human viewability.

According to Michael Tiffany, CEO of White Ops, “Direct buys to premium publishers who demonstrate the commitment to maintain low bot rates and implement continuous fraud monitoring solutions, such as this group of DCN publishers, can consistently yield human audience levels approaching 97 percent.”

Premium publishers with the cleanest traffic are using the following best practice measures:

  1. Strictly vetted traffic from third parties (traffic sourcing);
  2. Not using viewability as a sole measure of whether impression was caused by a bot;
  3. Maintained visibility and control over their inventory;
  4. Limited the use of retargeting (inverse retargeting); and
  5. Continuous monitoring for fraud.

This joint research was undertaken to evaluate the effect of bots on viewability and human traffic at premium publishers’ sites as compared to the advertising on a broader range of digital advertising venues. The report reflects DCN members’ commitment to providing clean, well-lit environments for advertising, and to developing and sharing best practices with the wider industry to ensure its growth and vitality.

DCN has experienced approximately 36 percent growth in new members in the past 12 months including ABC, ABC Owned Television Stations, Atlantic Media, The E.W. Scripps Company, Fusion, IJR, Refinery29, New Republic, Business Insider, The Daily Caller, News Corp, Rodale, Telegraph Media Group, Vocativ, Vox Media, The Onion, Tribune Publishing and Warner Bros. The organization has also expanded its scope to share additional intelligence and industry findings through its InContext website, public events and research. Follow DCN on Twitter.

Report available for download here.

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Digital Content Next (DCN) is the only trade organization dedicated to serving the unique and diverse needs of high-quality digital content companies that manage trusted, direct relationships with consumers and marketers. The organization was founded in June 2001 as the Online Publishers Association (OPA). Comprised of some of the most trusted and well-respected media brands, DCN produces proprietary research for its members and the public, creates public and private forums to explore and advance key issues that impact digital content brands, offers an influential voice that speaks for digital content companies in the press, with advertisers and policy makers, and works to educate the public at large on the importance of quality content brands. Digital Content Next’s membership has an unduplicated audience of 223,098 million unique visitors or 100% reach of the U.S. online population.*

More information about Digital Content Next is available at www.digitalcontentnext.org.

Source: comScore, Inc.®, January 2015

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Contact: Kaitlyn Kurosky
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