A publisher spends a lot of time formulating and designing the right ad inventory and its designated strategy. However, at times certain aspects of this management strategy might slip past the careful eyes and run amok. Over the years, advertising techniques have evolved to a great extent. While there are a number of perks associated with their development, there also exists a number of elements that pose a threat to the publisher’s strategy.
Invalid traffic happens to be one major contributor to the set of major problems faced by publishers. While its awareness and detection has increased, there are ways still being devised to combat its threat.
What is invalid traffic?
Invalid traffic refers to advertising impressions produced by bots or any other type of nonhuman traffic. According to a study by Cheq, bots and fake users make up 27% of organic and direct traffic, and IVT costs the advertising industry $42 billion annually. Although Invalid traffic and ad fraud are frequently confused, not all invalid traffic is malicious. The protection of advertising costs and ensuring the validity and viewability of impressions depend on the ability to identify all types of IVT (Invalid Traffic).
A few common practices make up the bulk of all IVT. These practices include the accidental interactivity of a publisher with their own ad space on a programmatic advertising platform, bot traffic to increase the number of impressions in general, and other tools deployed for increasing the number of impressions. These practices are quite common and can be found almost on a thorough investigation of the matter. The dichotomy lies in their ability to sabotage the publishing efforts and ruining the landscape for the advertisers as well.
What causes invalid traffic?
There are, basically, two ways through which invalid traffic can hit a Publisher’s website. The first one being, where the Publisher himself is voluntarily creating the bot or nonhuman impressions, or the other one, where the invalid traffic is unintentional. In the second case, the causes of the created impressions are generally unknown to the publishers. Here are three major causes that can cause unintentional invalid traffic:
Bots now make up a significant portion of web traffic, and their usage is on the rise. While there are helpful bots like search engine bots, SEO crawlers, monitoring bots, etc., the existence of malicious bots cannot be disregarded. According to a 2019 Imperva study, malicious bots made up a staggering 24.1% of all web traffic. Bad bots that hack credentials and stuff credentials have seen the biggest increase in usage. The frequent DDoS attacks put a heavy burden on networks and, sometimes, even completely shut them down.
Purchased traffic, as the name suggests, entails paying to bring customers to your website. There are numerous ways to accomplish that. Pay per click campaigns, display ads, and content discovery campaigns are a few popular ways to buy website traffic. While it might seem like a good way to increase traffic on your website, this is ultimately bad for a brand’s reputation and revenue regardless of their advertising techniques.
Expired and Redirected Domain
Publishers frequently purchase expired domain names and redirect their websites to them. The rationale behind buying an expired domain is that, once the redirecting process is complete, the existing backlinks, rankings, and domain authority might benefit. Publishers may, however, send unwanted bots and crawlers to their new website while redirecting traffic, and they may also get Google warnings about invalid traffic as a result.
Due to users searching for the old website, the website may also experience high bounce rates. Publishers who receive transferred impressions might also find it challenging to pinpoint the sources of and reasons for the traffic that is coming to their websites.
How do we deal with invalid traffic?
Being informed about your traffic and users is the key to deal with the invalid traffic. Start by segmenting your audience according to their usage of various channels, devices, locations, etc. Be on the lookout for any unusual user behavior or sudden change in their number. Bot/invalid traffic can be identified by if the visits last less than one second and in most cases, if the user is not scrolling past 10% of the page depth. Ad codes on channels, geos, and traffic segments with high risk may need to be removed based on what you observe.
Refrain from Purchasing Traffic
Purchasing traffic is a costly idea as whether or not a lead is generated by a click on your advertisement, you are still charged for that click. Along with that, purchased traffic is a short-term solution. Once your subscription expires, the traffic dries up. Also, scammers abound in the website traffic buying industry. You might end up spending hundreds of dollars on ineffective fake traffic.
Rather than purchasing traffic, invest in top-notch content, search engine optimization and user experience to organically increase traffic on your website. As a result, you would eventually benefit because advertisers would be willing to pay more for the high caliber of your website and the conversions it produces.
Do not click on ads on your own website
Do not click on ads on your own website. For fraudulent ad clicks, AdSense has a very strict policy. Self-click detection and elimination techniques are available from some ad providers, but doing so runs the risk of suspending accounts. If you must click your own site, whether for testing purposes or simply because you are curious about the destination URL, do it in a controlled setting using Google Publisher Console.
Keep in mind that the true goal of advertisements is conversion, and Google pays you for each genuine click. Inform Google as soon as you can if you accidentally clicked on one of your ads. Also, ensure that the advertisements don’t interfere with the user experience. Clicks will result in Invalid Traffic if your ad tags overlap other content or are hidden behind other page elements. You can also make use of the best practices for ad viewability.
To sum it up
The issue of IVT should be taken very seriously by publishers. In order to prevent IVT from becoming a problem, it is possible to keep it at bay by keeping an eye out for its warning signs, working to enhance traffic quality, and avoiding errors in ad configuration. Digital marketing companies can make use of best invalid traffic detection practices for their advertising techniques to ensure that every penny of every advertiser’s media budget has reached real audience and produced only legitimate impressions. Since ignoring the risks of invalid traffic will not only waste their time and effort but also their hard-earned money.