June 16, 2017   view past issues

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The Rise of Fake Applicants

The Web is teeming with fake applicants.

According to a report this month by DeviceAtlas, a software company, almost half of all Internet traffic (a whopping 48 percent) is now generated by bots and crawlers. A bot or Web robot is a piece of software designed to visit online sites and perform a specific activity there.

Some of these applications, like Google’s bot, are helpful, indexing information so that we can find and use it. Others, however, are extremely malicious. They are unleashed by fraudsters intent on bilking companies with false ad responses.

In recruitment, for example, bots can significantly degrade the return an employer achieves on its investment in online recruitment advertising. They pretend to be candidates, when in fact, they’re talentless clicks that rack up costs.

How does that happen?

While bots infect the results of all online ads, their effect is most insidious in performance-based advertising. This form of advertising – often described as pay-per-click (PPC) or pay-per-applicant (PPA) – is increasingly popular with employers because it enables them to focus their spend on results. They pay only when someone actually clicks on their job ad or applies for their opening.

Unfortunately, however, the computers that register those clicks and applications can’t tell if they’re coming from a human or a bot. For employers, that can have a devastating impact – as many as half of all the ad responses for which they’re paying are worthless. They’re generated by software, by fake applicants, not talented human prospects.

How Can You Protect Your Employer?

The fraudsters who create malicious bots are often very adept at hiding their activity among the hundreds of millions of clicks generated by job ads every day. As a result, online publishers – job boards, job search engines, aggregators and digital media companies – have had a very difficult time identifying and removing the fake applicants responding to their ads.

To address this problem, TAtech empaneled an international working group on traffic quality in 2016. Its goal was to create a set of practices which online publishers could use both:
• to protect their advertisers from fake applicants and
• to communicate their commitment to weeding them out in their reporting of ad performance.

The resulting TAtech Declaration on Traffic Quality was published earlier this year and is now available to all online publishers free of charge in the TAtech Bookstore. It is the first-ever set of industry guidelines to bring accuracy and transparency to the determination and reporting of job posting results. In addition, TAtech now recognizes those publishers that have completed and signed the Declaration by posting their documents on its website.

What does that mean for corporate and third-party recruiters?

If you’re considering a pay-for-performance advertising investment, you can now protect your employer from online fraudsters by identifying those publishers that have made a commitment to traffic quality by examining the Declarations posted on Think of that listing as your consumers’ guide to REAL applicants on the Web.

The listing, however, is just getting started. So, if you’re working with a publisher that’s also committed to accuracy and transparency in communicating its advertising results, encourage them to sign and post their own Declaration on Traffic Quality. It’s a public statement that will enhance their brand and their business.

TAtech Insights is brought to you by TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.

Mark Your Calendars! TAtech’s 2017 events include:
• April 22-23, 2017 Chicago: The TAtech Spring Congress & Deal Center, with The Business Accelerator has now occurred. See you at next year’s Spring Congress in … Miami!
• May 17-19, 2017 Barcelona: RecTech, The TAtech Industry Congress in the EU in partnership with the AIM Group. See you at next year’s RecTech in … Dublin!
• May 31-June 1, 2017 Minneapolis: The TAtech Leadership Summit on Programmatic Ad Buying, featuring two tracks: Programmatic Ad Buying Applications & Programmatic Ad Buying Technology. See you at next year’s Programmatic Summit!
• September 27-29, 2017 Denver: The TAtech Fall Congress & Deal Center, with The World Job Board Forum and the 2017 ReSI Awards Gala.