Fraudulent Search — direct and organic — non-paid traffic contributes about 27% of website traffic, mostly because there are so many scrapers, crawlers, and malicious bots, according to CHEQ, a cybersecurity company.
CHEQ also recently analyzed the extent of fraud in paid marketing such as Google search and display advertising, and saw between 3% and 5% fraud.
In affiliate marketing, a performance-based advertising media, CHEQ identified that in 2020 close to 10% of traffic coming from affiliate programs was fake -- costing the industry $1.4 billion in losses.
Two years later,that number nearly doubled -- rising to 17%.
Considering that the affiliate marketing industry has since grown from $15 billion to more than $20 billion, the industry is expected to lose more than $3.4 billion to fraud in 2022.
CHEQ identifies bots and fake traffic through its technology and tags inserted in website. The tag runs about 2,000 cybersecurity tests. One test, for example, identifies whether or not the traffic comes from a fraudulent data center or has some sort of characteristic of a bot. If the data from the traffic fails multiple tests in a row, the technology determines with a very high level of certainty, the traffic came from a bot, not a human.
The data is part of an on-going study by CHEQ that analyzes fake traffic across more than 50,000 websites.
The company says that when a website gets a lot of fraud traffic from an affiliate and none converts into sales is a sign there’s a problem.
The company said that the affiliate fraud data was released after Elon Musk put the acquisition of Twitter on hold due to a dispute over the rate of bot activity on the platform.
PayPal also took a hit earlier this year after it acknowledged it had uncovered 4.5 million fake accounts in its systems.