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    Seems ripe for an Adam Curtis docu-narrative.

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      40% human really sounds too high. There are entire web forums of solely bots exchanging web traffic with tens of thousands of posts, unaware other posters are also bots. I would guess under 10% of traffic is actual humans accessing content.

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        It should be easy enough to make a back-of-the-envelope calculation to find the max possible audience in a country - or even the world:

        • number of people with access to phone/computer
        • number of those employed/unemployed/retired
        • number of hours available for content consumption
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        I witnessed an advertising-based company discussing how much traffic they needed to buy in order to meet their monthly impression targets with their advertisers. Whenever their “organic” impressions were falling short for the month, they would buy enough traffic to hit the targets and collect from the advertisers. They charged more for the impressions than they paid for the traffic, so they stayed in the black.

        The click farms positioned themselves as ad-placement networks that put banners on “the long tail” of other websites to direct impressions to the main site. So I guess there was a veneer of legitimacy, or at least plausible deniability. It seemed like fraud to me. Surely the advertisers didn’t intend to pay for garbage traffic from click farms! But they talked about it like a normal part of business.