There is a growing need for businesses to protect and secure their marketed work from bots, fake users, and fraud. I recently spoke with Amy Holtzman, Chief Marketing Officer. Czech, the leading company that meets these types of needs. Amy has held marketing leadership positions with brands such as Spring Health, AlphaSense and Splash. She deeply understands the needs of marketing organizations and the importance of protecting their efforts from the threat of counterfeiting.
Gary Drenick: With the latest headlines, bots seem to be everywhere – they spread misinformation, steal data, buy Taylor Swift concert tickets and carry out all sorts of cyber attacks. But how is this especially important for marketers?
Amy Holzman: It’s true that ‘fake web is destroying marketing organizations and more importantly businesses and their reputations’ CHEQ’s Data It shows that, on average, 11.3% of all Internet traffic to a business website is fake, malicious and non-human, caused by bots, automation tools, click farms and scammers. Why is this a concern for marketers? Well, you work in this “digital wild west” and are therefore exposed to fraud, abuse and exploitation in the same way as a bank account or social media platform. Consider everything the marketing firm owns – marketing campaigns on major platforms, company website, privacy compliance, registration forms, payment gateways, shopping carts, customer journeys and more. All these elements are subject to bot attacks, fake users and malicious traffic. If bots are clicking on ad campaigns, they are costing marketers expensive ad spend. If fake users are signing up for new accounts or filling out online web forms, that affects marketing efforts, tracking and analytics. If 11% of a company’s website traffic is automated traffic, that skews their reporting and metrics, causing them to make the wrong decisions. And, as we see now with Ticketmaster, and as we’ve seen in the past with PayPal and others, the good deals on the business are even more significant. Allowing a fake web at any level into the marketing pipeline will contaminate everything the marketing team touches and affect the overall security of the business.
Drenik: But why do bots visit a website, fill out a form or click on an ad? What is the motivation here?
Holtmann: In this regard, all kinds of bad actors have enough motivation. The use cases are endless. Now it could be someone who bought 5,000 stolen credit card credentials on the darknet and made small purchases on an e-commerce site just to see which cards worked and which ones didn’t. It could be a scalper using a network of bots to buy high-demand concert tickets, which appears to be the motivation behind Taylor Swift’s Ticketmaster debacle. It could be a company looking to deplete a competitor’s advertising budget by clicking on their Google ads, or a scrap site to collect pricing and product information. Bots are now competing with humans for the best deals. Black Friday, marketers are very careful to protect because it affects the customer experience. There are endless reasons and examples, which we encounter every day, and all of which have a huge impact on marketing resources, budgets, data, forecasting, decision making, reputation and trust.
Drenik: Can you picture what some of these more sophisticated attacks would look like on marketing operations? What are some of the hottest things you’re looking at right now?
Holtmann: I’ve been doing marketing for a while, and bad actors never cease to amaze me. One example that comes to mind is what we in the industry refer to as “item denial” attacks or “shopping cart objects”. The idea is that an ecommerce player goes to a competitor’s website, often filling their cart during a big sales event or holiday season. They don’t actually complete a purchase, they fill the cart and let it sit there until the clock runs out, then they do it again. This basically removes the item from the inventory, so when the customer tries to buy it, the item is out of stock and the customer is forced to shop elsewhere. Of course, for such attacks to be effective, they must occur in moderation. They are often done by networks of bots that fill carts with thousands of items at light speed. It sounds far-fetched, but you wouldn’t believe how common these types of plans are.
Drenik: With the rise of ChatGPT and other AI tools, do you think it will become easier to deploy bots and harm marketing activities and websites?
Holtmann: Absolutely. When GPT-4 is released, ChatGPT can already be coded and analyzed. Although it is against the device’s terms of service to create malicious code, it is entirely possible to get arrested and tricked into doing so. It is also possible to build scratch bots and automatic weapons for harmless purposes.
Anyone with no coding experience can go to ChatGPT today and ask him to write a script that can scrape a competitor’s website and extract all the pricing information. That AI tool takes seconds to generate, and can provide the user with deployment instructions that any layperson can follow.
Today, only 6.6% of people use ChatGPT, according to recent data Prosperity insights and analysis survey. We can bet that adoption will skyrocket in the near future, especially with competitors like Google Bard on the way.
This means that offensive cyber capabilities are democratized and available to anyone at the click of a button. Of course, defensive cyber security is also using AI to counter these threats.
Drenik: It looks scary. What can marketing leaders do to protect themselves from this growing web of lies?
Holtmann: For one, marketers need to pay attention and not ignore signals. If you have a run-of-the-mill blog post and all of a sudden record-breaking visits and page views, it could be completely bad actors distorting your data or worse. . If you see 5,000% traffic on your homepage, you may be under a bot attack. If you have an unusually high click-through rate on a campaign, but none of them seem to be converting to a purchase, then you may be experiencing ‘click fraud’. Unusual and unusual things are often indicators of bad actors, bots and malicious activities. It is important to take a comprehensive and comprehensive approach to identify and investigate these threats and monitor them and prevent them from progressing. One in three Americans disable their mobile tracking devices, according to recent data Prosperity insights and analysis Survey, so it is important to prepare identification and restriction. This actually lets you know if you’re dealing with a bad actor or a paying customer and then allow or block the visitor. Of course, monitoring and even blocking are not enough, a truly effective defense requires the development of Go-to-Market Security (GTMSec) tools, strategies and policies. Just as organizations use cloud security to protect cloud and application security APIs – marketers are using Go-to-Market security to protect their GTM efforts and business reputation.
Drenik: Thanks, Amy, for your insight into the fake web and how marketers can take responsibility for protecting their companies from all the harm online.
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