Beware of Phantom Candidate Data

phantom-insertI recently read a great article by Shelly Palmer, Managing Director of the Digital Media Group at Landmark Ventures, called Non-Human Traffic, Ad Fraud and Viewability. His article confirms many of the same data traffic conclusions eQuest’s Big Data division is seeing – that “so-called” viewer/candidate traffic is not actually viewers at all; but instead, a multitude of bots on the Internet.



A “bot” is an application that performs automated tasks. Sadly, bots generate more than half the traffic on the public Internet. This is sometimes called non-human traffic or NHT. It is important to note that there is absolutely no debate over the amount of NHT on the public Internet. None.

There are good bots, like the ones most reputable search engines use to gather information about the web (they usually identify themselves). And there are bad bots, like those that carry out phishing scams to get personal data from consumers or bots that post spam links in comment sections for black hat SEO.

There are the really bad bots, such as the purpose-built ad fraud bots designed specifically to pick up cookies and drive fake ad impressions.


The best sites attract both good and bad bots – lots of them. Amazon gets scraped every day by thousands of bots capturing product and pricing data on behalf of other retailers as well as by comparison-shopping engines. It’s the same with top-tier content sites. It’ the same with job content. The better and more valuable the content, the more bots the site will attract.

Our research has shown that these bots account for between thirteen to forty percent of the candidate “click” traffic being generated from job advertisements being posted to the Internet. This type of non-human generated traffic is not limited to the traditional job posting sites.  In our studies, we’ve detected that as much as 2% of the click traffic from the Cost-Per-Click sites was bot-generated.

Unlike Internet advertiser who pay by the “impression “or CPM’s, many companies posting jobs rely on this same data to support future job board advertising; which in turn results on how much these companies spend and with whom.


What to do

If you are presently receiving reports that measure candidate responses, make sure to determine if the reports are prepared using software that eliminates these bots from your reports. A report that does not eliminate “ghost” traffic is simply an unfair representation of your actual results.  At best, this makes it difficult to assess your campaign’s effectiveness and form a future ad strategy.  At worst, it could be costing you money.


Thanks goes to:

Shelly Palmer is Managing Director, Digital Media Group at Landmark|ShellyPalmer a technology focused Investment Banking & Advisory practice specializing in M&A, Financings, Strategic Partnerships and Innovation Access. He is Fox 5 New York’s On-air Tech Expert and well known for his work on Fox Television’s Shelly Palmer Digital Living. For more information, visit