Digital advertising is a massive industry, with global spending on ads surpassing $600 billion in 2022. However, a new report from cybersecurity company CHEQ reveals that more than 40% of all online traffic is invalid, which means that billions of dollars are being wasted on fake traffic. This invalid traffic can “pollute” audience data and cause marketers to miss out on revenue opportunities.

According to CHEQ’s State of Fake Traffic 2023 report, 11.3% of all traffic in 2022 was fake, with 5.9% of paid traffic, 5.7% of organic traffic, and 22.1% of direct traffic being fake. The data shows that 1 in 10 visitors was not authentic, and 1 in 50 visitors had malicious intent. This resulted in $35.7 billion of ad spend being wasted, and $142.8 billion in revenue being lost.

The types of threats that contribute to fake traffic include data centers, automation tools, VPNs, scrapers, proxies, low-quality users, and malicious bots. The growth of fake traffic in 2022 was broad across all types, with click hijacking attacks, malicious bot attacks, and web scraper attacks seeing the biggest increases.

Referral sources like paid search ads also had high rates of fake traffic, with direct traffic being the biggest culprit at 22.1%. The top threats as a percentage of all fake traffic included automation tools, click hijacking, disabled JS, VPNs, scrapers, data centers, and malicious bots.

This report underscores the need for marketers to be vigilant about fake traffic and to take steps to weed out bots and other fake web activity. By doing so, they can ensure that their campaigns are optimized for real users and that they are not missing out on revenue opportunities. As digital advertising continues to grow, the issue of fake traffic will only become more important for marketers to address.

Invalid traffic not only impacts ad performance, but also impacts the way brands interact with users online. This often leads to fake leads, with more than 27% of leads being filled with bots that are entirely fake. The prevalence of invalid traffic has made it challenging for digital marketers to allocate their budgets effectively and optimize their campaigns for real business opportunities.

Despite the challenges posed by invalid traffic, digital marketers are experimenting with new technologies and strategies to stay ahead of the curve. Companies like mFilterIt are providing solutions to address the issue of invalid traffic. mFilterIt offers ad fraud solutions for app, web, lead, and programmatic advertising, and has helped companies like Tata Play achieve a clickthrough rate (CTR) of 120% for their campaigns.

Dhiraj Gupta, co-founder of ad fraud detection company mFilterIt, addressed the audience at the ad:tech New Delhi event in a session titled ‘Advertising Fearlessly’. He shed light on the challenges that digital marketers face due to invalid online traffic. Gupta explained that many of these issues have made advertisers cautious in their selection of the right publishers for their ads in order to drive better performance.

As the digital advertising industry continues to evolve, it is clear that invalid traffic will remain a significant issue for marketers. The key to success will be for companies to remain proactive in their efforts to detect and eliminate fake web activity. The use of advanced technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence can help to identify fraudulent traffic and improve ad performance. Additionally, partnering with trusted publishers and advertising networks can help to minimize the risk of invalid traffic and ensure that marketing budgets are used effectively.

It is also essential for brands to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the digital advertising space. By staying informed about emerging threats and new technologies, marketers can adapt their strategies and stay ahead of the curve. The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and brands that are agile and adaptable will be the ones that thrive in the years ahead.

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