Battling Scalper Bots and the Intersect of AI and Brand Safety in Digital Advertising

Posted by Victor Z Glenn • Nov 10, 2023 8:30:00 AM

The deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has heralded a new era of efficiency and precision. Yet, with great technological advancement comes unforeseen challenges, particularly in the realm of brand safety. Scalper bots are software with instructions to position at the start of the queue and begin searching for products en-masse as soon as the online sale goes live. This helps them to speed up the search process and outpace legitimate users in order to add maximum products to their carts. Once a minor nuisance, these bots have now evolved thanks to AI, posing considerable threats to brand reputation. The intersection of AI and brand safety, exploring how these scalper bots are not only impeding legitimate transactions but also disrupting websites, potentially resulting in unwarranted blame on businesses.

Scalper bots have plagued various industries, from ticketing to e-commerce, and rise beyond mere ad fraud to the level of piracy as they cost the industry transactions. These bots employ AI, enabling them to execute transactions at an accelerated pace, preventing genuine buyers from securing tickets or items. Beyond the frustration of missing out on coveted purchases, scalper bots can overload websites with unprecedented traffic, often misattributed to the company's unpreparedness. Little did consumers know that they were victims of scalper bots causing these disruptions.

Businesses have not stood idly against the menace of scalping. They have implemented several strategies, such as limiting the number of items a person can buy, restricting automatic checkouts for high-demand items, and imposing time constraints on transactions. Many have integrated bot detection tools, including CAPTCHAs, into their systems. CAPTCHAs are a type of challenge–response test used in computing to determine whether the user is human in order to deter bot attacks and spam. These have been utilized since the early 2000s, and here is where the challenge emerges. Scalper bots, utilizing cutting-edge technologies like machine vision, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, have become more sophisticated in circumventing these defenses. Even once-secure CAPTCHAs can be bypassed with ease. In cases where companies deploy fraud solutions requiring nuanced human interactions, bots transfer the attack to human click farms, as they've reverse-engineered these systems to render them ineffective.

The battle against scalper bots has highlighted the critical intersection of AI and brand safety in the digital advertising landscape. As we know, regulation lacks technical advancement by a large margin. As AI continues to advance, businesses must adapt and fortify their brand safety strategies to protect their reputation and the trust of their customers. In this ever-evolving environment, staying one step ahead in the fight against AI-driven threats is paramount. It's a challenge worth taking on to ensure brand safety remains a top priority in the digital age.

Topics: Brand Safety, Ad Fraud, Privacy, Metrics, Sales, education, AI