Digital's promise to brands is the ability to measure media effectively. While display advertising has seemingly lived up to that promise, fraudulent advertising tactics, including phantom mouse clicks and ghost traffic--in other words, fake ad clicks and page visits that impact accurate measurement--are haunting brands and wasting their marketing spend.
Already, brands like American Express, Allstate, Maybelline, GE Capital, Disney, Toyota, Comcast, Subway, LL Bean, Farmers, Starbucks, and Honda have reportedly been paying for invalid ad impressions. Adweek's Mike Shields earlier this year uncovered six publisher sites "where traffic is huge but humans are few."
Read on for more specifics about how big a problem ad fraud really is, as well as its costly amifications.
1. The number of invalid advertising impressions that are generated from PPV networks is at about 15 billion per month. Assuming the modest quality level for sites that are part of PPV networks, the cost to advertisers for this fraudulent traffic totals approimtely $180 million annually.
2. Fake display-ad impressions are estimated to account for about 30 percent of overall online traffic. That puts display fraud waste at $3.6 to $4.5 billion annually in the U.S. alone. That doesn't include video, mobile, or the rest of the world. The estimate would easily top $10 billion on a global basis.
3. In March, a London analytics firm identified a bot network that tricked marketers into showing billions of ads every month to phantom visitors. The botnet reportedly relied on more than 120,000 infected Windows computers located in the U.S., and appeared to represent a sophisticated scheme to defraud the advertising industry.
4. Forty percent of mobile ad clicks are fraud or accidents. Twenty-two percent of clicks are accidental, while 18 percent are fraudulent.
5. Eight percent of clicks on mobile ads are created by an app publisher who uses a server to register false clicks.
6. About 47 percent of app users say they are more apt to click a mobile ad by mistake than they do on purpose.
7. Fifty percent of all ads are not seen by humans. And 50 percent of that traffic is nothing more than bots. That means only 25-some-odd cents of any ad dollar is going anywhere near a living person.
8. Depending on the website, between 30 and 70 percent of all viewable ads might as well be invisible.
9. Fifty-four percent of all display ads have no potential of ever being seen. That could be due to a variety of problems—deliverability issues, a technical snafu, bad positioning, boring creative, or because the user didn't scroll far enough down the page.
10. The average video ad viewability was 83 percent, while broadcast TV sites scored 89 percent viewability, on average, and never slipped below 83 percent.