Joseph Arthur
Nov 30, 2023

Ad spend wasted on invalid traffic to soar 33% in 2024

With marketers' tightening their purse strings as continued economic turbulence forces budget cuts, research has revealed more of their precious ad dollars are expected to be wasted on invalid traffic next year than ever before.

Ad spend wasted on invalid traffic to soar 33% in 2024
Advertisers are wasting more money than ever on invalid traffic such as bots and fake clicks. According to research from adtech platform Lunio, 2024 will see more than £59 billion (US$75 billion) of ad spend wasted on invalid traffic, a 33% increase from 33% in 2022.
With ad spend growth slowing to 5.3% in 2023 and a shallow recession expected next year, the continually emerging threat of invalid traffic is particularly dangerous for marketers grappling with reduced budgets – there is no room for wasted ad spend.
The research analysed 2.6 billion paid ad clicks and 104 billion impressions from 60,000 ad accounts across Lunio’s customers, including M&S, McDonald’s, eBay, and Hugo Boss, among others, and found that 8.5% of all paid traffic across major marketing channels including Google, Meta, Linkedin, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok was invalid, equating to one in every 12 website visits.
Invalid traffic is not just wasting spend, but wasting time
Invalid traffic not only wastes ad spend, but also wastes markers’ time. The research portends that investing time on spam leads that follow on from fake clicks which never convert causes budget misallocations and unreliable revenue forecasts. This is predicted to cost businesses £168.6 billion in lost revenue opportunity in 2024.
Across the channels analysed within the report, Linkedin had the highest invalid traffic rate at 25%, equating to an expected £1 billion of ad spend forecast will be wasted on the platform next year.
The channels costing marketers’ more
Interestingly, Lunio’s data suggests that invalid traffic is generally more costly on non-Google channels such as Meta, Bing, LinkedIn, X, and Pinterest, with the average invalid traffic rate across these platforms being 17.5% , equating to an estimated cost of £45 billion. Conversely, the average rate across Google channels such as Search (inc. Google Shopping), PMax, Display, and YouTube campaigns is 5.5%, or £13.7 billion.
On the findings, Neil Andrew, co-founder and CEO of Lunio, said: “Bots, fake users, and fake clicks are becoming more and more pervasive. They instantly waste budgets, contaminate CRMs, distort analytics, waste the time and energy of sales teams, and make projected revenue forecasts unpredictable.
“It's never been more important for marketers to find new insights on how to maximise ad spend efficiency and eliminate sources of fake ad engagement. It's the only way marketers can leverage a digital advertising ecosystem where every click, impression and placement drives genuine value.”
Performance Marketing World

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