A statistical picture of the cost of digital advertising fraud | #phishing | #scams | #education | #technology | #infosec


Thanks to technology we no longer have to worry which half of our ad budget is wasted. Now we can know how much of it is being stolen. Advertising fraud is a widely known, widely ignored and very expensive fact.

How expensive? Let’s look at the numbers.

  • $68 billion: Expected worldwide ad spend lost to fraud this year. (Juniper Research)
  • $23 billion: Expected U.S. ad spend lost to fraud this year. (Juniper Research)
  • $100 million: Amount per day U.S. companies are expected to be losing to advertising fraud in 2024, an increase of 125% since 2018. (TrafficGuard)
  • 38%: Amount of web traffic that is automated/bots. (Imperva)
  • 24%: Amount of web traffic that bots used for fraud and theft. (Imperva)
  • 14%: Average clicks from fake sources in each paid search campaign. (ClickCease)
  • $1: Amount lost to fraud out of every $3 spent by advertisers. (Interceptd)
  • $5: Amount a botnet owner is charging per 1000 clicks. (ClickCease)
  • 73%: Number of U.S. businesses saying ad fraud is a problem for them. (Netacea)
  • 4%: Revenue lost by those businesses to ad fraud each year. (Netacea)
  • $100 or less: Price of renting a cheap botnet. (Threatpost)
  • 11%: Share of global ad traffic that’s invalid or fraudulent. (Statista)
  • 25%-40%: Estimated expected fraud rate for ad campaigns. (Anura) 
  • 36%: Amount of fraudulent/invalid display ad clicks. (PPC Protect)

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Why we care. In addition to the many obvious answers (theft is wrong, this means analytics/KPIs are entirely fictitious), there is another coming around the bend. If/when the recession hits, marketing budgets are going to get a lot tighter fast. Be nice if that money was accomplishing something for you, wouldn’t it?

Read next: Is there any incentive to crack down on programmatic ad fraud?


About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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