Top Aussie travel brand revealed to have spent tens of thousands on fake web clicks

Army of robots. 3D illustration

As air traffic increases due to the travel rebound, so too does the amount of fraudulent web traffic costing the industry billions of dollars.

Research from TrafficGuard, a digital ad verification and fraud prevention platform shows global travel advertising spend rose 36 per cent last year. And, that massive increase has made it a target for cyber criminals.

While a run in with a scammer can often be just an annoying phone call trying to get you to sign up to some sort of crypto-currency, it can also be incredibly expensive.

At times these calls have been daily.

Global ad fraud is now a US$127 billion problem and affects businesses in every sector across Australia, from a two-person start-up to a 20,000 employee multinational.

The research shows bots make up to 80 per cent of all invalid traffic for travel advertisers, which is a stark contrast to the 15-30 per cent affecting other industries.

Mathew Ratty, Co-founder and CEO of the Australian founded business, says there are a number of factors behind this travel industry related phenomenon.

“The first is due to the travel industry’s proliferation of third party Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s).

“Unauthorised OTA’s are known to scrape the data of airlines/hotel databases and sell them on behalf of airlines and rentals.

“The high value loyalty programmes are also an extremely attractive proposition for fraudsters to try to assume control of. And then there is the sheer number of app and mobile experiences travel vendors utilise in order to target key customers.

“Through the simple act of driving customers to install these apps, travel vendors are more susceptible to bad quality traffic and misattribution.” Ratty said.

One of Australia’s leading travel companies had been spending tens of thousands of dollars on fake clicks until it made changes via TrafficGuard.

“They were unwittingly spending $33,000 per month on invalid traffic that could be prevented by us.

“We took them through an audit and found that over 14,000 clicks in a single two week period were invalid click throughs (and in fact preventable) highlighting that $16,174 of their marketing budget could have instead been spent on actually targeting real users instead of being subjected to bots and invalid traffic.”

“It is totally standard for us to see non-human traffic (bots) such as scrapers across the travel industry.

“This type of ad fraud has direct implications for the industry with a clear impact on growth, marketing efficiency, innovation and even employment.” Ratty said.

TrafficGuard has developed a calculator which uncovers the scale of scamming for every type of business, from ecommerce-focused SMEs to enterprise level companies with seven-figure marketing spends.

The calculator asks for the major digital marketing channels a business uses, its industry, region and monthly spend in order to provide a highly accurate estimate of how much of that money could potentially be being wasted.

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