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Deliver Fair, Bot-Free Hype Drops with Netacea + Queue-it

Alex McConnell
Alex McConnell
22/11/23
4 Minute read
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Article Contents

    It’s 8.58am, the tickets to your favorite band’s latest tour are about to go on sale and you’re poised, credit card in hand, ready to secure the hottest tickets in town. Only, once you make it to the front of the virtual queue, the tickets have all been snapped up by scalpers. Or you’re faced with the dreaded message, “server busy, try again later”.

    If you think this is unfair, you’re not alone. But businesses are fighting back against a rising tide of unscrupulous scalpers, bad bots and overwhelming demand to bring fairness back to online sales.

    Read on to find out what the new partnership of Netacea Bot Management and Queue-it is doing to deliver online shopping equality to customers.

    Hype is harming product drops

    Any retailer or ticket broker’s dream is to have lots of demand for their sales, bringing fresh customers flocking to their site to make a purchase.

    Unfortunately, this comes with several potential pitfalls that must be carefully planned for and managed, if the hype drop or event is to succeed.

    Web servers get overwhelmed

    More visitors on the site at the same time – for example, during a product release – means more stress on the web servers that host the site. For every website, there is a limit to how many requests it can serve concurrently. This determines the website’s capacity for visitors at any given time. Websites can, however, scale their capacity for requests to meet demands during peak periods. But this comes at a cost. Technology such as elastic scaling and load balancing are often not fast enough to react and prevent websites from crashing.

    This is a nightmare scenario for any retailer – the stock is waiting to be bought, but customers can’t access the site, turning retailers into victims of their own success.

    Bots are used to take advantage

    If you want to get your hands on sale items or tickets before they sell out, you’d better act quickly. The bad news is that automated bots will always be faster than humans when it comes to placing items in shopping carts and checking out.

    These scalper bots aim to buy as much stock as possible to create scarcity, so they can then resell on secondary marketplaces at an inflated price and make a profit on each item. American consumers admit to paying on average 13% over retail price to scalpers for sold-out items, but Taylor Swift tickets have been known to sell for a staggering 4,719% of their face value.

    Experiences become unfair

    Customers become disillusioned when they can’t get what they want, especially when the circumstances are unfair. There is an expectation of a level playing field but too often customers are shown website error messages, items disappear from their shopping baskets, and items sell out instantly only to appear immediately on secondary markets. These poor customer experiences reflect badly on businesses.

    Consumers vs. bots: An ongoing battle

    Scalper bots first emerged as a way for sneaker fans to ensure they got their hands on the latest special editions before they sold out online, but it wasn’t long before people realized there was a lot of money to be made from buying extra pairs for resale; resulting in these bots becoming known as  “sneaker bots”.

    The practice of using bots to buy up stock for resale spread to other retail subgenres as well as event ticketing. Now anything that can be obtained online – even driving test appointments and vaccination slots – is being exploited by scalper bots.

    To combat the problem, we must be able to distinguish bad bots from normal web traffic. There are several approaches to this.

    At Netacea, we block all kinds of bad bot traffic using our AI-powered detection engine blended with bot expertise and dedicated threat research. Learn more about our approach to bot management.

    A multilayered approach to bot protection

    As well as our expertise in mitigating malicious bot traffic, at Netacea we have a wealth of experience in managing high volume sales events for customers. Our TrafficDefender virtual waiting room product helped major brands manage demand on their busiest days, and the insights we gained during these projects formed the basis of creating Netacea back in 2018 – we saw how much bots were manipulating sales and decided to focus on our unique approach to mitigating automated attacks.

    In August 2023 TrafficDefender was acquired by Queue-it and a new partnership was formed, focused on closely linking our specialized technologies to the benefit of our customers. We’re excited to work alongside Queue-it to deliver the most seamless anti-bot shopping experiences possible, combining our know-how and the two best-in-class solutions to online traffic management and bot prevention.

    How it works

    The Netacea and Queue-it solutions are paired in a pre-built integration. When a request is made to the web store – whether it be to seek out newly released tickets, products or anything else in demand – the first step is bot detection by Netacea. Our Intent Analytics™ engine uses machine learning to identify malicious bot traffic in real time and block it, whilst allowing genuine users through.

    Next, traffic flows through to the Queue-it virtual waiting room for a fair, orderly experience that keeps the website running smoothly during busy times. If no queue is active or website traffic volume is below the queuing threshold, users simply pass through to their expected destination without noticing anything has happened.

    With Netacea and Queue-it working in harmony, only users confirmed as human get a place in line, and only users who have queued fairly get through.

    Queue-it and Netacea how it works diagram
    How Netacea and Queue-it works to beat bots

    Deliver unbeatable shopping experiences online

    Consumers are now aware they’re competing with bots to buy the latest hyped items and tickets online, with 53% stating they have lost out to scalper bots within the last year. Removing bots from the mix is a huge advantage that protects consumers from paying inflated prices, your brand from a damaged reputation, and your web infrastructure from being flooded with fraudulent requests.

    Get in touch to find out how you can deliver the best possible shopping experience with Netacea and Queue-it.

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