Acquiring Customers: The Financial Impact Of Bots, Invalid Clicks

Instead of acquiring new customers, companies often acquire bots and fake users online.

In the U.S., for example, data released today from CHEQ, a cybersecurity company specializing in customer acquisition security, estimates the following revenue gains:

  • $5.1 billion in revenue after eliminating invalid traffic in the software-as-a-service industry
  • $10.7 billion in revenue after eliminating invalid traffic in ecommerce
  • $341 million in revenue after eliminating invalid traffic in travel

The data reveals how the elimination of bots and fake users would create more than $42 billion in additional consumers globally, based on an additional 2.5 billion customer transactions.

Data from the CHEQ report -- The Cost of Lost Revenue Opportunities -- estimates revenue gains in six sectors: automotive, ecommerce, education, gambling, software-as-a-service, and travel.

The analysis of bot activity and fake users is based on CHEQ's more than 8,000 customers and other proprietary and public data on digital ad spend and lifetime value for each sector. The data shows that ridding each segment of bots and invalid clicks offers the ability to book billions more in sales and attract more customers.



The report highlights the impact and revenue loss that occurs as a result of bots and fake users. It concludes that bots and fake users are a major challenge for businesses and future economic performance.

Marketers can address the problem by applying cybersecurity to their whole business, not just in the IT department. 

Take the automotive sector, for example. The auto industry is set to spend $13 billion on digital advertising in 2021, according to CHEQ, citing a data source.

If these fake users were eliminated by blocking bad traffic, and existing spend redirected to real customers, it would represent an uplift of 19,613 new car deals -- or $981 million in additional revenue for the automotive sector, according to CHEQ.

Broken down into individual countries, the extra customers and revenue uplift in the UK automotive sector comes in at $195 million in revenue. For Australia's car market, that amounts to $36.9 million in extra revenue, and $49 million for Japan's domestic car business.

Retailers are also victims of ecommerce attacks.

In ecommerce, bots are infiltrating funnels at a rate of 3%. This is a loss of 18.4 million customers when bots instead of real consumers click.

These missing customers in ecommerce represent a revenue uplift or customer lifetime value of $16.6 billion uplift, according to the report.

CHEQ data shows that fraud contributes one in 50 visits on a store order page -- with pages derived from paid customer acquisition.

The data estimates that after bots are removed, ecommerce retail sites could see 18.4 million new customers -- or $16.6 billion, globally.

The U.S. education sector faces a bill of about $420 million in wasted spend related to acquiring new customers. This is because on average 6% of clicks are not from students, but rather, from bots.

Colleges should be able to acquire 225,000 more students by eliminating bad clicks across their online acquisition efforts.

Education institutions in the U.S. spend $7 billion annually on digital paid-customer acquisition to acquire 3.5 million students at a cost of $1,985 each.

CHEQ estimates about 6% of bots are in the education funnel. Removing them would result in 225,000 new students, generating about $14.8 billion after eliminating invalid traffic on educational websites.   

1 comment about "Acquiring Customers: The Financial Impact Of Bots, Invalid Clicks".
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  1. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, September 21, 2021 at 4:57 a.m.

    Laurie, there are additional methods that I found in very cheap Chinese online sales of apparels that is supported in online advertising. This sales were nothing like the pictures shown according to online complaints. The items purchased was sent but some had difficultities returning the merchandise.  One more step that brings down quality of the internet to new lows.

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