CHEQ Research: More Than One-Fifth of Web Traffic is Invalid
Cyber Risks & Threats | September 12, 2022
The modern marketer is only as good as their data. Today’s marketing decisions aren’t made on the whims of executives in smokey corner offices, they’re made on cold, hard facts. Businesses invest millions in business and marketing intelligence software, analytics tools, analysts, and data experts all with one goal: getting accurate market data and making sound business decisions.
This business model is inextricably tied to the rise of the internet and digital business. Enterprises today have access to unprecedented amounts of consumer data and have used that knowledge to build incredibly complex go-to-market initiatives.
But what the internet gives, the internet can take away, and increasingly, marketers are finding that the rock-solid data they’d been basing decisions on was anything but.
The culprit? The Fake Web–the approximately 40% of web traffic that is fake, falsely represented, or downright fraudulent.
This invalid traffic made up of bots, automation tools, headless browsers, and fake users skews analytics, pollutes funnels, and clouds decision-making so that marketing teams end up making rational decisions based on bad data, and end up scratching their heads at bad results. Inflated traffic numbers, misleading conversion rates, inaccurate engagement metrics, and polluted CDP segments, are all commonplace, and force marketers to either live with bad data or spend an inordinate amount of time and effort cleaning their pipelines.
The Skewed Metrics Report
As the leader in Go-to-Market Security, CHEQ is in a unique place to examine this problem. We frequently study bot activity originating from various organic and paid traffic sources on the web to determine the validity of each user. To get insight on the situation, we monitored web traffic on more than 50,000 websites and deployed more than 2,000 cybersecurity challenges on each visitor to ultimately reveal whether they were a bot or bad actor, or a legitimate human user. The result is the 2022 Skewed Metrics Report, a comprehensive look at the impact of invalid traffic on marketing metrics across industries, regions, and device types.
Throughout this report, we explain exactly how important metrics are impacted, and what the world would look like if fake traffic were to be removed. In the report, we examine six leading traffic metrics across 15 industries and 5 regions:
- Unique site visits
- Pageviews per session
- Bounce rates
- Session Duration
- New Users
- Returning Users
Download the full report here, or read on for a few key takeaways.
One-Fifth of Unique Site Visitors Are Invalid
When looking at your traffic numbers, there’s one metric that every marketer gravitates towards: unique site visitors.
Knowing the number of visitors on your site, and how that number is trending, is key to understanding the size of your audience and the reach of your messaging, and essential to qualifying the overall impact of your campaigns. For most marketers, more is always better, but our data shows that over one-fifth of all unique site visits, 22.3%, are actually bots or other fraudulent users, a percentage that far exceeds the margin of error for high-stakes marketing decisions. This should be considered when planning the company’s marketing strategy.
Gaming and Hospitality Industries Face Especially High IVT Rates
In conducting our research, we examined website data across 15 industries: retail, internet, finance, medical, education, automotive, gaming, tourism, health and fitness, real estate, advertising and marketing, construction, tv and streaming, hospitality, and engineering.
And while the data from every industry indicated some level of invalid traffic, two industries stood out with IVT levels far above the average: hospitality, with an average of 50% invalid unique site visitors, and gaming, with a whopping 66% rate of invalid unique site visitors.
That means if 100 visitors visited a gaming website, on average just 44 of them would be real, human traffic, with the potential to convert!
One-Third of Desktop Traffic is Invalid
Despite the rapid increase in mobile web traffic over the past decade, the desktop computer has reigned supreme as a source of invalid traffic, with 34.6% invalid rate, vs. a 13.7% invalid rate for mobile traffic. The increased rate of invalid traffic coming from desktops makes sense–it’s much easier to run a headless browser or a bot script from a desktop than from a mobile device. And although mobile ad spending has surpassed desktop, marketers–especially those working in B2B spaces–can’t afford to give up on desktop traffic all together.
Get Actionable Intelligence with Go-to-Market Security
For businesses serious about good data, a comprehensive go-to-market security platform will help automatically detect and block invalid traffic, freeing up valuable time, unskewing your metrics, and providing actionable insight into marketing trends and spend.
Our platform, CHEQ, leverages thousands of security challenges to evaluate site traffic in real-time, determine whether a visitor is legitimate, suspicious, or invalid, and take appropriate action to block or redirect that user. Book a demo to see how CHEQ can lower your CPA and protect your go-to-market efforts.