What Are Viewbots And How Do They Affect Your Ads?

Abisola Tanzako | May 10, 2023

If you’ve dealt with ad fraud before, then you already know  have, then you will know how pervasive bots in general can be. Viewbot drains the advertiser’s budget by unintentionally targeting video adverts or paid banners. Viewbots are invented to create fake engagement on streaming platforms like TikTok, Youtube, Instagram, Twitch, etc. Viewbots cause havoc for video advertisers’ online campaigns.

What Is Viewbot?

Viewbots are bad bots. They target video ads, watching them repeatedly with no intention to purchase. Other times, these bad bots are created to watch videos on online platforms or live streams resulting in fake views. They are used mainly by those who stream and want to propel themselves to a visible place on the online leaderboard to gain visibility and exposure and ultimately earn more views, likes, and subscribers.

Viewbotting is used across various online platforms, including Youtube, live gaming, Twitch, music streaming media and Metaverse platforms. The idea behind using a view bot is very similar to click farms. The intention of view bot and click farm is to increase impressions and boost engagement, but the difference is that while click farm generates fake clicks, view bots generate fake views.

Why Is Viewbotting So Popular?

Twitch is an online streaming platform with about 30 million active users daily; recognizing the potential of this platform allows advertisers to increase their investment in content creators and influencers and do all they can to reach a specific audience, especially with the Genz generation. 

With the growth of video content, video marketing, and influencer marketing, some content creators have been found to use viewbots to increase views on brand content.

What Does Viewbotting Mean For Advertisers?

An advertiser can be negatively impacted when running video ad campaigns on a view-botted channel. 

Viewbots are cheap, and in most cases, many offer free trials. They are easy to use, access and implement. With this available, content creators and channel owners can purchase a lot of views; these viewbots increase the view count on both the content and the paid ads on display.

Although the intention behind view bots is usually dishonest, view bots are not yet illegal. 

As engagement of Viewbot increases, so does it rise to the contribution of a more significant fraud problem. Viewbot fraud and other advertising fraud issues have been estimated to be about 100 billion dollars in 2023.

Why Is Viewbotting Harmful To Your Ads?

Advertisers often need to know how greatly view bots can distort their efforts. Below are some of the effects that viewbots can have on your ad campaign as an advertiser:

  • Viewbotting leads to huge revenue loss for advertisers

Your revenue can be stolen if a view bot is on a channel while you run an ad campaign as an advertiser. When a video or live stream is viewed by a viewbot (including the paid ads), advertisers indirectly pay the influencer, content creator, or platform for fake views.  

  • Viewbotting generates false impressions.

Viewbot increases engagement metrics artificially, creating unpleasant advertiser-influencer partnerships. The usual process for advertisers is to vet influencers, content creators, or channels that best suit their ad campaign. It may not be immediately apparent to advertisers that view bots are deployed to pad-up popularity statistics; sadly, they become vulnerable to the influencer/ channels that would not provide them with any return on investment (ROI). 

It could be that the owner of the track is using view bots intentionally, or view bots have unknowingly infiltrated their channel; whatever the case may be, the advertiser becomes betrayed with a bad investment to deal with.

  • Viewbotting will suddenly distort campaign analytics.

Since view bots can generate a lot of views, your ad campaign metrics can appear better, much more than they usually are. These exaggerated metrics can affect your strategy for future campaigns. 

How can Advertisers Prevent Viewbots And Their Damage?

Vewbotting is always anti the terms of service of many major video platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch. These platforms encourage their users to report pages where view-botting activities are predominant so that they can take necessary actions like banning and demonetizing that channel. However, because view botting is not illegal, it is only treated as a civil matter. This ultimately means it is left to advertisers to protect themselves from view bots. Here are a few ways to protect yourself:

DIY (do-it-yourself) Methods

You can detect view bot activity by yourself in a couple of ways. Here are some of the things to look out for assessing a channel, a content creator, or an influencer;

  • High views vs low chat ratio: when a video has a high view count, but the engagement or comment is not proportional to the views, that can be a significant sign of view bots.
  • Low subscribers vs High views: Looking out for unrealistic subscribers and views is something to look for. For instance, if there is a YouTube channel with about 6,000 subscribers and a high presence of views of about 2 million, that may indicate the presence of view bots.
  • Generic and repetitive comments: some view bots can engage successfully in the live chat section, but usually, the comments are generic, and words are repeated. For example, “Amazing!” “Wow!”. All these are pointers to view the bot’s activity.

While these pointers help us to recognize bot activities, the absolute efficiency of these methods could be improved. It is also unrealistic to think that advertisers with a vast audience will have the time to go through the statistic of each channel to detect view bots or any other type of ad fraud activities. 

  • Use fraud prevention software.

With the increase of modern and sophisticated view bots, advertisers must employ cross-channel and full-funnel defence to fight against view bots and every other type of ad fraud. Instead of relying on ineffective manual methods to detect ad fraud activities, you can simply use specialized fraud prevention and detection software that will automatically detect the presence of bot activities on your ads before they cause havoc.

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