A nightmare DDoS attack. How digital marketers can protect advertising budgets against losses.

01 Apr 2016 / by Dorian Kind / Comments

DDoS attacks cause losses in sales and reputational damage for online shops. But people often forget that attacks can wreak considerable havoc on digital marketing too. It’s important to acknowledge this fact and then act to prevent it. We’ll show you how.



Blogpost DDoS Attack Teaser image

In mid-March, several Swiss websites fell victim to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. When the media report on these incidents, the financial damage to the e-commerce operators is attributed mainly – and correctly – to estimated revenue losses and, to a lesser extent, reputational damage. One aspect, however, is often forgotten.

Collateral damage to the marketing budget

If digital campaigns remain active during these attacks, advertising fees go up in smoke, since any user that clicks on an ad will see nothing but a page with an error message. If an online shop with a medium-sized daily online marketing budget goes offline for several hours, they quickly amass tens of thousands of francs in worthless clicks.

Of course, it's possible to manually halt a campaign during an attack. But what if an incident occurs on a weekend and the marketing team only finds out a while later, or simply does not have access to the AdWords account? Then automation can provide valuable services. In other words, customized software solutions like the ones we program for our customers not only increases the efficiency of campaigns, but also limits damage in the event of DDoS attacks or similar incidents.

Bodyguard for online campaigns

One of the applications we have developed is The Watcher. The tool monitors our customers’ websites, instantly and automatically pausing SEA campaigns when a predefined event on the monitored page is detected. Once the target page returns to the normal state, the paused campaign is reactivated again.

The Watcher automatically pauses a campaign for certain products or product categories on a website, for example, whenever they are currently out of stock. Once the products on the page become available again, the campaign is reactivated. This is our software engineers’ way of ensuring that the advertising budget of our customers is used as efficiently as possible.

However, The Watcher also works in exceptional cases such as the recent DDoS attacks: Because the pages monitored by The Watcher were no longer accessible, the affected campaigns were automatically paused right away. This prevented ads for pages that were no longer accessible from running and saved our customers from suffering a substantial loss in their advertising budgets.

Customized software for greater efficiency

The past few days have shown that our customized software solutions not only increase the efficiency of a campaign when business is running as usual, but also limit damage in exceptional situations.