Our “Pharma and Digital Ad Fraud” blog series examines essential issues related to digital pharma marketing. Previous blogs have discussed good and bad bots, blacklisting and whitelisting, bot generation techniques, and most recently, two simple ways to reduce the risk of ad fraud.
This week we’ll look at the relationship between bots, web analytics, and marketing planning.
When you discover you have a bot problem, you know you’re overpaying for ad space and losing conversions. In other words, you’re paying for impressions made by non-humans who will never become prescribers.
An equally big, but less obvious, problem is that all your web analytics are wrong. If your traffic reports don’t recognize bots for what they are, they’ll be counted as humans. When you make decisions based on this inaccurate data, your future marketing effectiveness is severely limited.
Filter Out Good And Bad Bots
Bots aren’t created equal. Some, like the webcrawlers used by Google, Bing, and Yahoo, are essential for searchability. Many others deliberately spam, steal ad revenue, and otherwise do damage across the web.
Still, they’re the same in one regard: Both good and bad bots skew web analytics. To improve your website data, you need to filter out all bots. But filtering bots isn’t as simple as it seems.
The only way to be absolutely sure your website visitors are human is to identify them by name.
Check With Your IT and Analytics Team
If you were to go to your IT team, Google Analytics, or your advertising platform today and ask, “Are you filtering bots?,” I can guarantee they would say yes. That’s because bot filtering is included in the basic functionality of Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics.
The web interface for these tools includes a checkbox that says “filter out bots.” Unfortunately, those filters only catch basic bots. They may identify the good bots included on the AIB/ABC Spiders and Bots list, but they definitely don’t recognize all the bad or questionable bots.
Base Marketing Decisions On Verified Data
Effective marketing decisions require better data than this. Bot detection companies like Distil Networks use sophisticated techniques to recognize bots that mimic human behavior. Yet even that isn’t enough to ensure that you’re making marketing decisions based on human traffic.
The only way to be absolutely sure website visitors are humans is to use audience identity management technology that identifies individual HCPs by name. Today this technology can report the individual browsing behavior of tagged HCPs across our online ecosystem of 300 medical websites.
Practice Makes Perfect
When audience identity management technology is first installed on a medical website, you may be surprised to discover how little traffic comes from physicians. We’ve found this to be true across pharma brand sites and other types of medical publishing platforms. However, once the problem is recognized, pharma marketers and medical publishers can work to reduce the difference between the amount of human and bot traffic on those sites.
The difference between 20 percent and 60 percent bot traffic makes a huge impact on marketing and budgetary decisions. Having the correct numbers is the first step toward better marketing decision-making. Improving the percentage of target physicians coming to medical websites leads to even greater improvements in digital marketing ROI.