As Travel to Southeast Asia Resumes a Surge in Invalid Traffic to Digital Travel Ads Follows

Image: Daria Shevtsova via Pexels
Bots make up to 80% of all invalid traffic for travel advertisers, a stark contrast to the 15-30% affecting other industries, says TrafficGuard.

Digital ad verification and fraud prevention platform, TrafficGuard, has revealed in its whitepaper by Juniper research that the Southeast Asia region could incur a loss of approximately US$56 billion to ad fraud – an amount that is subject to increase, due to the return of travel in the region.

TrafficGuard cites findings from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WWTC), which say that APAC’s travel and tourism sector is expected to approach pre-pandemic levels and travelers in the ASEAN region are estimated to reach 155 million in 2022, according to GlobalData. The travel surge in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines comes after the ease of travel restrictions here in Southeast Asia, with countries partially or fully opening their borders to vaccinated travelers.

Southeast Asia is notable for having one of the largest online travel markets, and travel ad fraud is expected to occur in these regions due to the market size, said TrafficGuard.


Research from the company found that bots make up to 80% of all invalid traffic for travel advertisers, a stark contrast to the 15-30% affecting other industries.

A host of factors could be attributed to this phenomenon according to the research:

• The travel industry has a proliferation of third-party Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s), some of which are authorized and some are not, that scrape the data of airlines/hotel databases, and sell them on behalf of airlines and rentals.
• The travel industry also has many high-value loyalty programs that fraudsters will try to assume control of.
• Many travel vendors use apps and mobile experiences to reach their target customers and by trying to drive installations of their apps, they are more susceptible to receiving bad quality traffic and misattribution

As airline websites and travel apps (OTA’s) are home to a host of data such as flight, pricing, booking, and discounts, bad bots can result in higher fees for OTA’s, as they make it appear as though far more people are viewing than booking flights.


“Where there is money to be made, there will be fraudsters. This is prevalent across all digital channels,” said Mat Ratty, TrafficGuard’s CEO.

“What we do know is that the online travel market and airline categories are hugely competitive. As such, a lot of budget is spent on searches which have expensive PPC keywords. There’s also a lot of programmatic campaigns with tailored messaging to consumers who have shown an interest in a particular airline or destination. These channels are rife with ad fraud.”

Many travel companies will spend huge sums of money to drive consumers to download their travel applications. They will often use pay-per-install performance networks that are paid for each installation they drive. According to TrafficGuard’s analysis, performance networks that are being paid to drive these installations are delivering upwards of 50% invalid traffic on average, resulting in many fraudulent installs and misattribution of post-install events such as flight and hotel bookings.

“Bearing the brunt of this will be the advertisers who are paying for traffic that will never generate any value,” said Matt Sutton, Chief Revenue Officer, TrafficGuard.

“As time passes, ad fraud tactics will also be elevated, and it is imperative for advertisers, airlines, and OTA’s to be aware of the prevalence of ad fraud in this sector. Large sums of money is lost to digital ad fraud yearly, with the amount increasing each passing year. Having a proper system in place will allow you to save your ad spend, and make sure that your advertisements reach the right audiences.

Featured image: Daria Shevtsova via Pexels


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