This is the second blog in our "Pharma and Digital Ad Fraud" series. Previously, we explored the differences between good and bad bots. This blog will consider several ways pharma marketers can ensure more of the visitors to medical website are actual humans.
Pharma marketers are well aware of the high cost of digital ad fraud, but knowing how to prevent it is less clear. Today we’ll look at a few of the options.
Low-tech solutions are a good place to start. You can gauge how much of your web traffic is non-human simply by paying attention to where website visitors come from, establishing benchmarks for real, human browsing behavior, and carefully analyzing any website traffic that looks too good to be true.
Eventually, you’ll also want to invest in some kind of bot detection service.
In the digital world, a blacklist is a mechanism that controls access to specific websites, email servers, or other computing systems. It allows all elements (such as IP or email addresses) to access the system, except those that have been explicitly identified.
Together, blacklisting and whitelisting provide a powerful way to beat digital ad fraud.
In other words, blacklisting keeps out known bots, but lets all other visitors browse freely. Those other visitors typically include humans, good bots, and unidentified bad bots. Of course, all advertisers want human traffic, but the good bots are important too.
As we discussed last week, Google, Yahoo, and the other big advertising exchanges use good bots to search and index the web. You need to give these bots access to your site, but you should also remove them from your traffic data before doing any kind of analysis. To make that process easier, the International Advertisers Bureau (IAB) maintains a list of its members’ webcrawlers.
A Cat-and-Mouse Game
Blacklisting is one of the most common bot detection solutions, but it has limits. The main problem is that it’s a continuous cat-and-mouse game.
Cybersecurity experts like Dr. Augustine Fou and bot detection companies like Distil Networks use a variety of sophisticated techniques to determine if website visitors are actual humans. Yet, as soon as you update your blacklist, new bots will come along. With minimal effort, cybercriminals can generate a lot of real-looking traffic that isn’t easily detected.
That’s why I recommend taking a dual approach to bot detection.
Whitelisting Works for Pharma
Pharma is unique in that you know exactly which doctors you’re targeting. Unlike consumer product marketers, pharma marketers can focus on identifying the individual doctors who visit your brand sites or view your ads.
You can create a whitelist of high-value HCP targets, and then use audience identity management technology to alert you when one or more of those HCPs views your content. Opted-in HCPs are identified by their full name, medical specialty, NPI number, state of residence, the URL they visited, and the time of each visit. This data can be reported in real-time without requiring the HCP to log in.
When you use blacklisting and whitelisting together, you not only learn how much human traffic your websites get, but also the names and specialties of tagged HCP visitors to those sites. We consider this combination the best way to beat the bots. In fact, Distil Networks’ bot detection code is now embedded in our audience identity management technology, so you can benefit from both approaches.