If you are a publisher, there’s a good chance that Invalid Traffic is impacting your ad revenue. But what are the types of Invalid Traffic and how can you find and mitigate it?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about Invalid Traffic so you can protect your ad revenue. We’ll discuss what does invalid traffic mean? its types, and most importantly, tools you can use to fix it. So whether you are just starting out in the publishing world or have been around for a while, read on to learn everything you need to know about Invalid Traffic!
The main reason why this type of traffic is called Invalid Traffic is a result of non-human traffic or activity causing fraudulent traffic.
There are 2 main types of Invalid Traffic (IVT):
1. General Invalid Traffic (GIVT)
GIVT or General Invalid Traffic is the traffic that’s coming from bots, spiders, crawlers, and even ethical search engine crawlers. GIVT switches from one website to another every few seconds for hours endlessly (something that normal site viewers don’t usually engage in). General Invalid Traffic usually never inflates ad impressions or ad clicks.
Publishers can identify General Invalid Traffic by filtration using lists of standardized parameter checks or routine methods.
You can categorize GIVT based on the following indicators:
- Traffic from spammy browsers: The most common GIVT are the impressions that are not originating from a valid browser. Even domain spoofing involves driving GIVT to an illegitimate domain making it look like the traffic comes from a trusted domain.
- Known Bots & Non-human Activity: The primary step to reducing any invalid traffic is to filter out the non-human activity. Bots are great at mimicking online activity and it can get hard for publishers to detect. Bot fraud mainly involves bot farms or large groups of bots working together, also known as botnets.
- Artificial Data Center Traffic: Traffic generated by servers located in data centers as opposed to corporate or residential networks ending up as non-human traffic on your site. A data center is the physical location housing the infra to power websites. Since a lot of GIVT comes from overseas, fraudsters can make use of the IPs within the data center to make the traffic appear to be originating from the correct location.
- Identification based on Activity: This involves identifying invalid traffic through analyzing traffic patterns. Through this filtration process, you’ll be able to identify simulated or automated human activity which may not be have been picked up by the Spiders & Bots filter.
A few instances of this type of activity include:
- Multiple sequential activities
- Outlier activities & similar suspicious activities.
- Too much activity.
2. Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT)
SIVT is the IVT that’s been designed with malicious intent and is far more challenging to detect compared to GIVT since it’s way more technically intricate. 80% of the time, nefarious fraudsters are using botnets mirroring human behavior. This kind of traffic never fulfills the criteria for ad serving.
SIVT includes invalid proxy traffic, cookie stuffing, illegal substitute traffic, and bots that manipulate site data & statistics. As fraudsters are attempting to mask their behavior as ethical, it takes advanced traffic analysis, multi-point collaboration, and expert intervention to identify, detect, mitigate SIVT & ultimately prevent it from artificially inflating clicks.
With MonetizeMore’s Traffic Cop, SIVT is scanned and scored based on how harmful it is and the data is shared in real-time reports making us industry leaders in detecting and mitigating SIVT. These reports show the type of traffic (normal, suspicious, IVT) detected to help publishers understand the source and the type of traffic that is sitting on their site & what can be done to mitigate it.
Now what? How to avoid Invalid Click Activity?
In the case of SIVT, Fraudsters usually instruct bots to visit premium sites, pick up cookies, and then visit publisher’s sites for monetary gains.
Here’s the Invalid Traffic checklist publishers need to ward off undesired traffic:
✅ Where is this traffic coming from?
Is most of the traffic on your site coming from countries you never expected would check out your site?
Traffic Cop’s reports include a regional breakdown of normal, suspicious, and invalid traffic for identifying outliers.
✅ On which platform (mobile web, desktop, in-app, etc.) does fraud most often occur?
You can identify outliers once you sign up for Traffic Cop and have access to the dashboard.
✅ Are you attracting visitors organically or through other sources?
- For publishers sourcing traffic:
It is necessary to demand transparency from suppliers around sourced traffic since bot traffic is more likely here.
- Tonnes of data center traffic & very little traffic from residential or corporate networks :
Make sure you’re not running any botnets or software that is mainly originating from data centers. Running tools such as clickbots to drive traffic results in AdSense bans and revenue clawbacks 99% of the time. You can always consider adding data center IPs to the barred list and Traffic Cop can audit for any IVT drops.
Related Read on ‘how to check invalid clicks in Google AdSense: https://www.monetizemore.com/blog/fix-invalid-traffic-prevent-adsense-bans/
How Traffic Cop works?
step 1: User visits a page.
step 2: Script collects information about the user.
step 3: Server takes the data, fetches the historical information about the user and the device, sends the data to Traffic Cop IVT detection system.
step 4: The system evaluates all the data and assigns a risk level (Normal, Suspicious, IVT).
step 5a: New data is collected and the system is updated based on the data.
step 5b: Server sends the risk level to the script
step 6a: Some of this data is sent to the frontend for reporting
Step 6b: If it’s in Block mode then this risk level is used to decide whether Traffic Cop triggers MonetizeMore’s ad tech system or not. In measure mode this step does not exist
step 7: if we decided to trigger the ad tech system then ads are shown.
Leave the rest to Traffic Cop
As you all know, invalid traffic is everywhere online, the majority of it malicious except for search engine crawlers. Invalid Traffic can adversely affect your relationship with your advertising partners and lead to ad revenue losses for your business.
The Publisher IVT Checklist provided in this blog post can help you navigate through your ad fraud-fighting journey. If you have gone through the checklist without spotting any anomalies, it is possible that your site has been affected by SIVT caused by fraudsters without your knowledge.
Traffic Cop picks up multiple data points regarding the traffic on your site to analyze who is visiting your website and distinguish between real traffic and suspicious IVT in real-time. Post that, you don’t need to worry about AdSense bans or revenue clawbacks.
Most of the invalid traffic solutions products are all talk and no action, but MonetizeMore is committed to helping you see results unavailable elsewhere.
Combining machine learning with decades of experience, we ensure that no stone is left unturned in our hunt for IVT. Our team of AdOps professionals has navigated thousands of requests for our publishers, and ultimately, our 24/7 support, expertise, and cutting-edge technology is the secret sauce to 1000+ publishers’ success.