More on Bots in Online Advertising

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. Afterall, 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.


Search Engine Bots vs Malicious Bots: 

A publisher who posts quality content which is read by millions of visitors every month will definitely attract such malicious bots and search engine bots. Search engine bots generally help you in grabbing traffic from various search engines, such as Googlebot on Google, whereas malicious bots bring a lot of invalid traffic to your website. And thus, malicious bots can carry out various frauds and other illegal activities. 

If one doesn’t take the required precautions in order to save his website from invalid traffic, then there may be a major loss of readerships and revenue. Many top websites have experienced this. 


What are Bots or Invalid Traffic? 

It is basically the non-human traffic coming your way and imitating the real traffic. It can be defined as the artificial inflation of clicks and impressions on any website which may affect the revenue of the publisher. It may include unintended clicks or non-human traffic. 

IVT, generally, comprises of the following: 

  • Using automated tools for creating engagement with ads and ad impressions. 

  • Clicks and impressions on the ads placed on their websites by the publisher itself. 

  • Spamming websites using bots for the theft of information or any malicious activities. 

Types of Invalid Traffic (IVT)

There are 2 types of bots in online advertising or IVT which are: 


1. General Invalid Traffic (GIVT): It stays in the background and is a negligibly risky type of IVT. The bots coming from non-threatening places generate this type of IVT. However, these are least risky, but they have their own functions. These help in measuring, iterating and improving the ecosystem. Moreover, GIVT does not have any engagement with ads on a website. 


Example of GIVT includes: 

  • Brand and data safety bots. 

  • Bots or crawlers which come from known search engines or known data centers. 

  • Traffic coming from real, but unknown browsers. 

  • Measurement bots or analytical crawlers. 


2. Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT): This is the kind of invalid traffic which actually is ‘invalid’. SIVT is the traffic which is generated to click or view ads, in turn, enhancing the revenue. Along with it, fraudsters use SIVT in order to manipulate location data, to hijack devices, to spoof domains and much more. 


Fraudsters usually work well on patterns so that their activities don’t get detected easily. Some examples of SIVT includes: 

  • Illegal substitute traffic. 

  • Crawlers, scripts, bots which imitate the activities of real human users. 

  • Malware 

  • Hacked devices and user sessions 

  • Cookie stuffing 

  • Harvesting and ad stacking 

  • Falsely representing location and ads data

Thus, curbing SIVT is essential for reaching your desired revenue. 


How to find and then eliminate the Invalid traffic (IVT)? 


1. Examine all the reports of where the traffic is coming from and then act accordingly. Using a third party tool, you can also know the IP address and domains of IVT. 


2. If you are using paid traffic for your website, then you may get more IVT. So, compare your traffic with different paid media and track what comes with least IVT. 


3. Traffic coming from the data center is often confused with the authentic audience, but it is not always true. For instance, a new pilot blacklist is made by Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) which displays all the data center IP addresses. You can use this blacklist to segregate the non-human attacks. 


4. Your demand partner can help you solve this issue. So, as soon as you detect IVT, talk to them. 

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