6% of ad spend was 'wasted on fake traffic' in 2022

Research estimates a total of $142bn in revenue was lost last year due to marketers inadvertently optimising campaigns for fake audiences.

In 2022, global ad spend was more than $600bn, $35.7bn of this was wasted on fake traffic, amounting to around 6% of all investments.

According to a report from cybersecurity company CHEQ, more than 40% of all online traffic is invalid, stemming from polluted audiences, customer data platform (CDP) segments and customer relationship management (CRM) software. This caused marketers to inadvertently optimise advertising campaigns for fake users.

An estimated $142bn in revenue was lost in 2022 because of this fallacy.

CHEQ’s data uncovered that the volume of blocked traffic increased a startling 167% year-on-year in 2022 compared to 2021. With one in ten website visits deemed inauthentic, the research found that 11.3% of all traffic was fake, including 5.9% of paid traffic.

The industries most affected by this issue were gaming and gambling (49.1%), Tech/SaaS (20%) and telecoms (17.3%). The growth of fake traffic came from a broad range of threats and attack vendors but the three with the largest growth were click hijacking attacks (125%), malicious bot attacks (112%) and web scraper attacks (101%).

An increased presence of fake traffic within organisations’ marketing funnels poses the risk of undermining marketers’ efforts to optimise their campaigns and has the potential to erode executives’ trust in their marketing programs.

CHEQ predicts this trend of increased fake traffic to continue in 2023, largely due to the rapid growth in AI technologies and asserts that organisations need to commit more resources to monitoring incoming traffic and automatically detecting and blocking fake traffic before it gets into their funnel - or risk a continued waste of ad spend.