The University of Miami is a private research institution with more than 19,000 students from around the world. With more than $413 million in research and sponsored program expenditures annually, it’s one of top US universities within the fields of medicine, marine science, engineering, education, and psychology.
Oren Joseph Mor, Marketing Director, is responsible for ensuring the university’s paid ad budget is used to drive student enrolments as efficiently as possible. But in May 2022, he noticed a suspicious spike in low-quality traffic and spam enrolments coming through paid search.
He approached the university’s marketing agency, Vrooman Group, about the problem and they recommended Lunio as a solution.
Identifying a Bot Attack
After setting up Lunio’s tracking script, all clicks on the University of Miami’s paid ads were analysed and logged according to their threat level. Early data revealed more than 4,000 invalid clicks per day, which was draining budget rapidly.
By analysing data from Lunio’s click log, it became clear a lot of invalid activity could be traced back to the misuse of a BrandVerity bot. BrandVerity is a competitor research and brand protection tool for paid search. It crawls paid ads to give visibility over competitor messaging and help identify those who are running ads or landing pages they shouldn’t.
By investigating the IP addresses associated with the bot activity, the University of Miami were able to pinpoint it stemmed from one of their main competitors, who appeared to be deliberately misusing BrandVerity to target paid search ads with the intention of wasting ad spend.
Lunio played an integral part in helping us identify the source of the problems we were experiencing on paid search. I hadn’t witnessed an attack on this scale before. Having all access to all the suspect IP addresses in clicks log, along with the location for each one, enabled us to build a case to pursue those responsible.
Lunio identified a bot attack, stopped it, and made recommendations so it wouldn’t happen again. The volume of invalid clicks per day fell from more than 4,000 to less than 50 in the space of two weeks.
This delivered huge savings across paid search, while simultaneously driving up the quality of online student enrolments. With the wasted budget being reallocated to genuine prospective students, the number of legitimate conversions increased.
The University of Miami are now using Lunio click log data to take build a case against their competitor, in an effort to recover ad spend lost during the attack.
- $107,500 saved in ad spend per month
- 19.32% of clicks shown to be invalid
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