75% of X’s Ad Clicks Were Fake: Report

CHEQ says 3 out of 4 visits from X to advertisers' sites were fake

Sponsored by

🗣️ Advertise Here: Reach thousands of marketing executives for as low as $7! [learn more]

75% of X’s Ad Clicks Were Fake: Report

X on the hot-seat over what some say are wildly inflated ad results. Also: The quick way to get more product reviews. A huge bump in programmatic spend is on the way. And Twilio considers a fire sale.

🎧 Listen to today’s issue

  Subscribe free to the podcast

Today's News:

Send products to Influencers and 5X revenue!

Drive traffic to your Amazon store with influencer partnerships and 5X revenue. Boost your sales with our unique approach to influencers and UGC. Carefully selected micro influencers purchase your product and get reimbursed for their expenses only if they complete a social promotion.

See how brands like Unilever and Magic Spoon have been able to 5X revenue in 2 months and decrease ad costs using Stack Influence.


My wife and I will be on holiday out of the country for a week starting tomorrow. So while there won’t be any newsletters until next Thursday, be sure to subscribe to our free daily podcast, where we’ll be putting out lots of content:

  • Tomorrow: An episode of the new Inside Google Ads podcast

  • Thursday: Preventing Shopping Cart Abandonment

  • Friday: Social Causes: When Good Deeds Go Bad for Brands

  • Monday: Exploiting the "Vicarious Hand Effect" in Marketing

  • Tuesday: Finding Potential Brand Alliances

  • Wednesday: Why the Religious Complain More About Your Brand

X • Are They Faking Their Ad Results?

Fake clicks and inflated numbers — that’s what some groups say X, formerly Twitter, is doing, perhaps to make its platform look better to advertisers.

The cybersecurity firm CHEQ, which tracks bots and fake users, said more than 75% of traffic from X to its advertising clients' websites during Super Bowl was fake.

I've never seen anything even remotely close to 50 percent, not to mention 76 percent. I'm amazed…I've never, ever, ever, ever seen anything even remotely close.

CHEQ founder and CEO Guy Tytunovich

CHEQ tracks how visitors from different sites and apps act once they land on one of their clients’ web sites. Their pool of data comes from the web sites of 15,000 clients.

Most X users who are regularly on the platform can attest to a noticeable uptick in seemingly inauthentic activity in recent months.

When a post goes viral on X, its now commonplace to find bots filling the replies with AI-generated responses or accounts with randomly generated usernames spamming a user's mentions with unsolicited "link-in-bio" promotions.

Now, there's data which backs up that user experience.

Advertisers have also noticed X's bot issues.

In a recently published piece in The Guardian, Gene Marks, a small business owner shared his ad campaign results from X.

After a small $50 advertising spend, X's analytics shows that his website had received 350 clicks from approximately 29,000 views.

However, according to Google Analytics, X wasn't the source of any of the actual traffic his website had received during that time period.

Disclosure: Cheq has been an advertiser of our podcast and newsletter. They had no part in this story, financial nor editorial.

Today’s Trivia — Guess and Win!

Each month, we pick someone who guesses in a trivia question and comp them the Premium Newsletter! Just click on any option below:

Before it was "Blue" or "Premium," what was Twitter's paid service to be named?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Reviews • Get More Reviews By Incentivizing

Want more people to review your product? Try giving them a little nudge with a reward.

Recent research published in the Journal of Marketing Research shows that customers are more likely to leave a review, and a positive one at that, if there's something in it for them.

It doesn't have to be a big — a discount on their next purchase, or the chance to win something cool, can do the trick. The researchers found your best bet here is to offer this only to your happiest and most loyal customers.

From the study: people were 83% more upbeat in their reviews for a home improvement store when a sweepstake was involved. And mixing up rewards, like a chance to win Apple AirPods or a $200 gift card, upped positive reviews by half for a video streaming service.

The study didn't ask for only positive reviews, just reviews. The researchers did not test what would happen if you specifically asked for positive feedback.

About half of Americans say they’ve been offered a reward for a review at some point.

One fine point: it is against the terms of some platforms, like Amazon, to incentive reviews, so make sure you check the rules where you sell.

Media Buying • Programmatic Spend to Loom Large

eMarketer says programmatic digital display ad spend in the U.S. will increase 16% YoY over the next three years, growing at 3x the rate of nonprogrammatic spend.

That brings digital display to 90% coming from programmatic bidding systems.

Although transacting programmatically can lead to challenges in transparency and control, often with unknown intermediaries and limited performance reporting, there are still many benefits. Automation enables greater control over spending cadence and channel mix.


Next year, US programmatic digital display ad spend will grow by more than 13%, mostly because of the increasing number of video ad formats on free ad-supported streaming TV channels and ad-supported video-on-demand tiers.

Marketing ScrollGet the latest marketing news in 60 word pieces - all in just 3 minutes a day.

M&A • Twilio Considering Selling ‘Segment’: Report

Twilio is considering selling off Segment, the customer data platform it acquired.

This comes as Twilio's growth has slowed considerably, prompting the company to undergo an "extensive operational review" of Segment.

The backdrop of this development is marked by the exit of Twilio's founding CEO, Jeff Lawson, and pressure from activist investors who have been pushing for Twilio to sell off assets to boost shareholder value, especially as the company’s stock price has plummeted from its peak in 2021.

Segment, which Twilio acquired for $3.2 billion in 2020 amid the pandemic, was seen as a way to quickly grow market reach. However, the acquisition has since been questioned due to Segment's underperformance and the broader market's shift post-pandemic.

Segment's recent earnings show a modest year-over-year revenue growth and a decline in revenue quality.

TikTok • New Guide Covers the Basics

TikTok has published a new 34-page guide for marketers to help them navigate marketing on the app.

The guide covers three main areas: Ideation, Production, and Optimization.

You’re not going to find any mind-blowing revelations here — they’re mostly the basics like define your target audience, show off your products, and so on — but they might be a good refresher, or a quickstart guide for a new team member.

One nice section, though, is how to maximize the impact of the first six seconds of a video. Studies have shown on TikTok you only have a couple of seconds before someone decides to watch or swipe away.

There’s also a section on using the editing function within the app, which has become more complex over the last few years.

And there’s a section about the platform’s so called “Smart Creative” ads, which are aided by AI.

You can download it here.

Google says it will refund advertisers after a technical hiccup led to some being overcharged.

This glitch affected a handful of campaigns on its Display and Video 360 platform between July and December of last year. If you ran campaigns during this period, you might want to reach out to Google to kick off the credit refund process.

The overcharges were apparently for a small number of impressions and Google says the impact was minor. The issue was resolved last December.

Need more detail?
Read more about the stories we covered today.

What did you think of today's issue?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Get free stuff for referring friends and family 🎁

1 referral = Tod’s “How to Go Viral” keynote speech 🗣️
2 referrals = One Month Free of the Premium Podcast 🎙️
3 referrals = Access to Private Slack Channel 🔓

You currently have 0 referrals, only 1 away from receiving Tod's Keynote: "How to Go Viral".

Copy and share this link

Reach thousands of marketing executives for as low as $7! [learn more]

Upgrade Your Media Buying Skills:

Tools We Use and Recommend:

¹ Some links in this newsletter may provide affiliate revenue to us.

Join the conversation

or to participate.