Did you know that you interact with bots online nearly every day? It’s true. Bots are everywhere in cyberspace. And unfortunately, they are not always good. Every deployment, from chatbots to click fraud bots, serve a purpose. They are only as good or bad as those who deploy them.
In a detailed post explaining bots, Hubspot’s Amanda Zantal-Wiener likened them to the witches in the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz. In the mystical land of Oz, there were both good and bad witches. Likewise, there are good and bad bots.
Bots Are Applications
For all practical purposes, bots are small software applications designed to accommodate rudimentary functions. They utilize technologies like deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Their primary purpose is to automate tasks that do not necessarily require human effort.
A chatbot simulates a chat session between an organization and one of its website visitors. A well-designed chatbot can recognize frequently asked questions and provide appropriate answers. An AI-enabled chatbot can even analyze questions that aren’t so direct in order to still provide the correct answers.
The chatbot is an example of a good bot. One example of a bad bot is the click fraud bot. What are click fraud bots? They are bots designed to continually click on pay-per-click (PPC) ads in order to drive revenues. Unfortunately, these types of bots are all too common, and bot fraud is a huge problem globally.
Automation Is the Key
Bots are so advantageous because they bring automation to otherwise labor-intense tasks. Let us go back to the chatbot to see this in action. A company that employs half-a-dozen people to provide basic support through an online chat function, will certainly get the job done. But a single chatbot capable of doing the same job would be more efficient and cost-effective.
Why? Because the chatbot is automated. It operates without any human intervention. It is able to quickly determine what customers want to know and provide appropriate answers in real time.
Automation also works to the advantage of those who choose to commit bot fraud. Fraud Blocker, a California company whose sophisticated software can, among other things, identify click fraud bots, says that automation is where the big money is.
By automating some of the tasks that make perpetrating fraud profitable, scammers are capable of ripping off brands more efficiently and at a faster rate. The more efficient a fraudster’s operations are, the higher their potential revenue.
Bots Have Their Limits
Perhaps the one thing that keeps bots somewhat under control is the fact that they have their limits. This is not good news to brands that only use their bots in a positive way. Inherent limits prevent them from deploying bots to automate their businesses entirely. They are likely to see the limits in a bad light.
On the other hand, bot limitations also affect how fraudsters can use them. Going back to the previously mentioned click fraud bots, they can be stopped through rudimentary technologies like two-factor authentication and captcha codes. They can also be detected through old-fashioned sleuthing that pays close attention to traffic origin and volume.
No doubt that bots play a significant role in how the digital world operates. As more brands employ bots, they are also automating more aspects of their businesses. Combining automation with AI allows them to operate more efficiently and at higher margins.
Nonetheless, bots are only as good or bad as those who deploy them. Bot fraud is evidence that there is no shortage of bad actors willing to exploit bots for their own financial gain.