Updated: Jun 15, 2022
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are believed to be revolutionary breakthroughs in science and technology. Not only that but they are intended to help humanity to solve serious issues on multiple avenues. Considering Artificial Intelligence is a tool, it is currently used for automating key operations, limiting human intervention, and accelerating major technical processes. However, the application of Artificial Intelligence depends on the individual in charge of it. The technology is intended to aid human beings with their objectives, but whether it is used for the right or bad motives remains to be seen. As a result, Artificial Intelligence is often categorised as either good or bad.
Ad Fraud is plaguing the online advertisement business
Ever since we got our hands on the internet, every entity wants to be a part of this universe. Whether it is the general public or major businesses, even pet animals have their social account with followers more than any ordinary individual. We have progressed to the point where we can currently discover information about almost everything on the internet, with the exception of a few bad elements (more on that later).
As a result, businesses, since the onset of the internet, have tried their best to reach out to the online community, spending millions to market their brand. They engage in digital marketing practices and many businesses have made a fortune serving their audiences. At the same time, over the last two decades, they have been subjected to multiple cyber attacks and ad fraud, which have caused serious disruptions in their operations. Ad Fraud is an ever-growing concern for Marketers worldwide, and the much-discussed Artificial Intelligence, Bad AI to be more specific, is at the bottom of it.
“Good AI” is possible but “good human” is still unsound.
How do Cybercriminals use Artificial Intelligence to scam marketers?
As discussed earlier, Artificial intelligence is used to automate a technical process on its own, without the need for human inputs. Thus, fraudsters use AI for malicious purposes and this has been reported in terms of hacking, stealing confidential information, or distorting the marketing budgets of brands. Cybercriminals, fraudsters, and others engaging in illicit activity frequently create bad bots and use them to harm businesses. A malicious bot is programmed to carry out harmful activities and thus constitutes a bad AI. However, to get in-depth into why AI is bad for marketers, we first need to understand good AI and bad AI, and what makes them different.
Artificial Intelligence: The Good Aspect
Popular movies and television media have presented a very debatable description of Artificial Intelligence. To some extent, they might be true, while in most instances, they are simply exaggerated versions of AI. There have been several initiatives to use AI in multiple domains, with an objective to assist in the better functioning of crucial projects. AI-assisted solutions are only going to make things simpler for us. It is worth noting that Artificial Intelligence has progressed significantly in the right direction and in this section, we will discuss some of its positive influences.
Presented with a large set of data, AI can perform predictive analysis and help in decision making. Recently, we have seen in healthcare, Machine Learning and Image Recognition are used for cancer detection. This has been critical in forecasting severe diseases and contributed to saving human lives.
Moreover, they have also been designed to carry out automated tasks, based on user behaviour and data. In online marketing itself, advertisers and publishers employ the technology for their marketing goals. AI is frequently used in marketing campaigns where speed is critical. Understanding the demographic, user behaviour, and preferences, it makes automated decisions that drastically benefit the campaigns.
Needless to say, Artificial Intelligence is making its way and is making headlines for all the right reasons. We are yet to see the full potential of a man-made brain, and it will be in everyone's best interest if it becomes the ideal companion for humanity.
The Bad AI
Coming to the section which pop culture believes is the true nature of Artificial Intelligence. The Bad AI. Yes, it exists. But the question is, who is to be labelled as bad? Does the AI make the decision, or the person controlling it? Artificial intelligence (AI) is programmed to think and act like humans, giving them human-like characteristics like learning and problem-solving. A bad AI will perform all sorts of malicious actions, just like any fraudsters would do. And that is because it is the fraudster who wants them to. They might have been trained to perform questionable actions, but at the end of the day, they are coded by an instructor to do so.
Ad Fraud has been on the rise and when we examined the problem more closely, we discovered that it is the result of bad AI doing the dirty work for cybercriminals. Online Ad Fraud like click spamming, click framing, domain spoofing, ad injection, and so on, have been a result of bad bots. Bots in themselves are just code instructed to perform any simple task such as repetitive operations or complex tasks like identifying and imitating human behaviour. But it is their intent that makes them good or bad.
Bots are engineered to flood ad campaigns, act like real audiences, produce clicks, hijack real clicks, and whatnot. As a result, this creates an impression that bot traffic is real. Their actions are real. Ultimately, just fooling the marketers before they even realise it. It is expected that digital ad fraud will cost brands $44 billion in 2022. Unfortunately, malicious bots are becoming more sophisticated and thus making it difficult for businesses to combat this issue. With the advancements in Machine Learning, a rising number of bots are imitating human behaviour and fooling the most advanced fraud detection technology.
“Unless we learn how to prepare for, and avoid the potential risks, AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilisation” - Stephen Hawking
The industry, very recently, has started to address the impact of ad fraud. The potential for irreparable damage to a company's finances and reputation resulting from fraudulent attacks. Therefore, we have seen crucial steps toward the fight against fraudulent practices. It is now the responsibility of a good AI to counter the effects of a bad AI. Machine Learning has emerged as a potential solution, already making significant progress in combating ad fraud. It can be useful in detecting potential fraudulent trends and helping reject bad traffic. However, there is a long way to go. But witnessing such steps in this direction suggests that we can soon lessen the impact of these bad elements in such a promising technology.