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Written by: Mike Yang

Fraud, in all its forms, is a major drain on businesses. And most of the time that fraud is committed by human people. But what about robot fraud?
Or, more accurately, fraud from Internet bots. These little automated programs can perform a lot of interesting and useful jobs online, but they also can use their powers for evil. Such is the case with the bots that criminals use in click-fraud campaigns. These bots are sent around the web to click on ads and videos as a way to drive up the cost of ads on certain sites, thereby making more revenue for the site owners.
The problem is a big one, and new data from the Association of National Advertisers shows just how big it is. Here are some of the numbers:

  • Advertisers will lose $7.2 billion this year around the world to bot fraud. That’s roughly the GDP of Kosovo or Guinea and is more than the GDP of about 40 countries.
  • The data came from 10 billion ad impressions, which is nearly 1.5 impressions for every person on earth.
  • Some advertisers had as much as 37 percent bot traffic to their ads.

Here are some of the things $7.2 billion could buy:

Image from Flickr stream of Justin Morgan.