According to Elon Musk, Parag Agarwal, the CEO of Twitter, has publicly refused to present proof that Twitter has fewer than 5% of accounts that are fake. Hence, CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter, for approximately $ 44 Billion, might not see the light of the day due to massive mismatch between Twitter’s total and real user’s database.
In fact, Twitter earlier this year also admitted that it had been overestimating its user base by 1.9 Million users every quarter for the previous three years. The platform in March 2019, launched a feature that allowed people to link multiple accounts together in order to conveniently switch between accounts. However, at that time an error was made at the time, such that actions taken in the primary account resulted in all linked accounts being counted as mDAU (Monetizable daily active users). This once again has drawn attention to the prevalence of bots and fake accounts on social media platforms.
This now raises a bigger question – Are Twitter and other social media platforms as transparent as they are supposed to be?
The answer is crucial since many enterprises and brands are spending 30-40 percent of their digital ad spending on social media and influencer marketing, unaware that a significant amount of their social media base could be fake.
What exactly is a bot?
To measure the prevalence of fake accounts and bots on Twitter, a clear definition of them is necessary. Fake accounts are those that impersonate people. Bots, on the other hand, are accounts that are partially controlled by software and can automatically post content or carry out simple interactions, like retweeting.
Bots are meant to either skew enterprises’s advertising matrices or to mix with existing human traffic to increase financial gain for ad fraudsters. Bots can be used to increase impression, click and engagement matrices and are often mixed with traffic that is either organically hijacked or hijacked via last click attribution.
If you are a website owner, it becomes your duty to provide such content to your audience which your website visitors and advertisers can trust upon. After all, advertisers and readers are like the two wheels of the bicycle of a website’s bottom line because they help us in generating revenue over our content. And, Invalid Traffic (IVT) or bots can majorly affect your relationship with your audience.
Importance of bot measurement
Bots and fake accounts are a known growing evil in the digital ecosystem becoming more sophisticated in today's world of emerging AI and ML technologies, portraying real and human-like persona. Automated bots can generate massive volumes of conversation, chats and trolls on social media platforms.
While fake bots/ accounts may appear as an easy and simple way to gain followers and promote your brand, they can actually dilute your brand’s image and credibility. Bots can reduce engagement and lead to higher customer acquisition costs. Consider a campaign where the marketers spend money on targeting and retargeting such bots.
While the digital medium is becoming the most important medium for advertisers, accuracy still exists as a challenge across social media platforms and marketers should not judge performance and effectiveness solely based on these platforms.
What is the industry's strategy for dealing with bots?
The majority of Twitter’s revenue comes from selling ad space on its platform to global advertisers. And to attract advertisers, it requires a huge and growing user base.
In 2021, Twitter generated more than $4.5 billion in advertising, up from $77 million a decade ago. Leading car and other significant brands are partnering with Twitter for marketing campaigns and product launches.
Bots and fake accounts exist on all social media platforms and it is an open secret to all advertisers. Marketers now wonder if the controversy will have an impact on their enterprises and ad revenue.
Many advertisers employ bots for promotional activities in order to push for organic communication. However, many of them are consciously making decisions to not use such bots, releasing it will affect the brand in the longer run. Customer lifetime value is becoming the key focus for the enterprises, and they will have to look beyond the campaign numbers.
Enterprises do realise how damaging bot traffic can be to their digital advertising strategy. Bot traffic leads to businesses wasting money on fraudulent ad clicks that will not generate any revenue. With distorted numbers that can be terrible for enterprises, it's critical to understand how to identify bot traffic and protect your digital campaign from it in the most effective way possible.
Advertisers who wish to drive performance via social media won’t be affected right away. However, enterprises and brands may want to decrease their budgets or pull out until all of this gets cleared. There may not be an immediate impact, but in the longer run, revenue will get affected when the response of the ad spend won’t come out as expected.