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‘Bots’ Can Sabotage Digital Advertising

‘Bots’ Can Sabotage Digital Advertising

Website traffic from China, India and Russia won’t lead to many local dealership car sales.

Digital advertising is taking up an increasing amount of a car dealer’s advertising budget. Yet, outside of a normal “click” review that is provided by digital advertisers, dealers increasing just take for granted the validity of clicks.

There’s no real incentive for them to drill down to the actual validity and usefulness of those same clicks.

How many dealers truly dig down deep into Google Analytics. A dealer who takes such a dive might (or might not) be shocked at the number of useless clicks that are paid for. That includes:

  • Traffic from China, India, Russia or other places that are thousands of miles away from the dealership.
  • Desktop traffic making up more than 90% of visits for some traffic sources.
  • Traffic coming from sites such as and

While there are many organizations that will take your money for search-engine marketing, how many actually drill down to reveal this level of transparency? 

I’m with car dealers almost every day, and many intuitively know a lot of their search money is being wasted because many of the clicks are phony and don’t produce real leads. 

Yet, dealers have few ways to get the data to prove this intuition. So, to be competitive, they continue their digital spend as always or actually increase it.

According to Daniel Kim, the founder of Orbee, a website conversion firm, the biggest problem with bringing accountability and transparency to digital advertising is that performance metrics and analysis dealers get about digital advertising comes from companies that also sell the advertising to the dealership.

Kim says most digital advertising agencies and vendors are well intentioned and work in the interest of their customers. However, there is an inherent conflict of interest when the dealership community also relies on them to provide a self-graded performance report on how well their advertising campaign is helping dealerships sell more cars.

“Bots” can sabotage a digital advertising budget. In talking with Kim, I received interesting insight about this.

Unwelcome dealer website visitors.

Bot traffic is a serious issue in digital advertising. At least $7.2 billion in advertising spend in 2016 was wasted on bots, according to the Association of National Advertisers. 

Dealerships can waste up to 40% of advertising spend on bots. Kim notes the inherent problem lies with the industry not keeping digital advertising agencies and vendors accountable for their performance claims and not asking the difficult questions that could help agencies and vendors do their jobs better. 

Then again, dealers don’t have ready access to the tools that would help them do this job. 

Orbee uses a visitor-level bot detection system and intent-based conversion tracking of website visitors in order to truly evaluate website traffic from all sources.

Kim is quick to note his firm is not in the ad-selling business so it can maintain independence and objectivity.

From what I can see, this industry needs more independent entities auditing digital advertising performance. 

John Possumato heads Automotive Mobile Solutions. He can be reached at [email protected] and 856-577-2763.


TAGS: Dealers
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