The Impact of Online Bots on Classifieds & Listing Websites

The Global Online Classifieds & Listing Industry

Classified ads and listings, have been around for as long as printed newspapers. There are horizontal and vertical classified websites. Horizontal platforms have no particular specialization and may include a variety of services such as jobs, real estate, autos, and so forth. Vertical classifieds are more specific to services like recruitment, matrimony, automobile, real estate, education etc.

In the US, classifieds first moved online starting in the mid-1990s with the development of Craigslist and eBay. While Craigslist focused on a variety of different listing types, eBay initially grew as an auctions website. Since then, many vertical classifieds have popped up such as Zillow in real estate, LinkedIn in jobs, and AutoTrader in vehicles.

As reported on Statista, the global online classifieds market is enormous with estimated revenues as high as USD 25,572 Mn by 2021. In 2016, revenues in classifieds segment amounted a staggering USD 16,461 Mn. China leads revenue numbers in classifieds sector with a total market volume of USD 3,733 Mn in 2016, followed by US amounting to USD 3,307 Mn.

Bot Frauds on Classified Websites have Direct Impact on Revenues

The lowered cost to build bots for web crawling coupled with readily available web scraping tools has led to a drastic increase in non-human traffic on classified portals and the internet at large. At InfiSecure, we have seen bot traffic on classified websites reach almost to 87% on weekdays. The reason for such a spike in non-human traffic is pretty simple. When the core asset of your business model is classified ads and unique listings, your competitors are always on the run to grab your listings and data and take away your legitimate web traffic. Fraudsters will try to pull your site down with malicious bots that not only scrape your content, but also create fake accounts and fake listings. In essence, online bots are a cause for a number of online frauds on classified portals that has a direct impact on KPIs and business revenue.

The Business Impact of Bad Bots on Classifieds is a Massive Loss

This global lucrativeness and the business model of classifieds makes it one of the most vulnerable industries to web scraping and innumerous associated bot frauds.

  1. Web Scraping of Listings

  2. User Data Theft

  3. Fake Form Submission

  4. Skewed Website Analytics

  5. Negative SEO Attacks

  6. Slow Site Performance

  7. IT Overhead & High Costs

The impact of online bot fraud on classified and listing websites is nothing but lost customers, lost brand reputation and ultimately lost revenue. Considering the quantum of bot traffic and equivalent global bot fraud losses, it is time that listing marketplaces, both small and big, horizontal and vertical start implementing a real-time bot mitigation strategy.

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