According to a study from the University of Baltimore, and CHEQ, a cyber-security anti-fraud company “one in five invalid clicks is not from U.S. voters.”
With over 65% of voters consuming news and information from digital media channels, spending on the U.S. election this year could amount to between $1.3 billion and $2.9 billion.
“Bot-makers create millions of headless browsers, that can simulate all human-like actions such as mouse movement, page scrolling, and clicks, to load webpages and cause ad impressions, that appear entirely human,” according to the authors.
The study says, for example, that 56% of Google political spend occurs in the last month of the election race, with 21% of ad dollars pumped out in the final 10 days. “Due to limits set by Google and Facebook, campaigns are instead spending on more junk ad-prone traffic.”
While media campaign refunds are possible, the study says all this comes too late. The study quotes veteran digital executive Zach Edwards, who says: "In a business ad buy you have an ROI, you have people checking it for months afterwards, and if it didn't pan out you may ask for a refund, whereas in political buying the only day that matters is election day.”