Ad Fraud: What Is Invalid Traffic in Digital Advertising?
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What Is Invalid Traffic in Online Advertising?

What Is Invalid Traffic

All digital advertisers and publishers want to ensure that their video ads are seen by real internet users, and not impersonating bots. This is the only way for their creatives to be effective. However, invalid traffic plagues digital video business now more than ever before. That’s why brands are trying to find ways to protect themselves from advanced fraudulent schemes present on the internet.

A few years ago, the Pivotal Research Group revealed that there were over 200 million fraudulent video impressions per day.  As a result, businesses lost their hard-earned ad revenue. So, bots impersonating people have a considerable impact on the advertising market. In fact, some sources claim that the industry lost $19 billion because of ad fraud.

Unfortunately, ad fraud has become an industry-wide problem. It is one of those pressing issues companies need to address and resolve. Despite their efforts, it has remained a major problem for advertisers and publishers. And one type of ad fraud has especially caused headaches for industry experts — invalid traffic.

If you’re new to the business, perhaps you need a formal introduction to invalid traffic. So, we’re going to tell you what this ad fraud type is, its types, and introduce you to technology that can help you detect it.

Let’s start!

What Is Invalid Traffic?

Invalid traffic (IVT) refers to any activity that doesn’t come from real internet users. In terms of advertising, it denotes ad impressions and clicks on a publisher’s website that have been generated by bots or other types of nonhuman traffic. As a result, this can artificially inflate advertisers’ costs or publishers’ earnings, which is why ad fraud is one of the worst nightmares in the marketing world.

Typically, the following activities are described as invalid traffic:

  • Impressions and clicks made by publishers themselves when they click on their own ads.
  • Publishers and advertisers encouraging users to click on their ads. For instance, they might use language that encourages visitors to view ads.
  • Repeated ad clicks or impressions generated by one or more users.
  • Impressions and clicks made by robots, traffic sources, or other deceptive software.

Brands should detect all forms of IVT to protect their ad spend and ensure that every impression is valid. After all, content and ads should be seen by potential customers, not automated programs!

Lastly, just to see how prevalent invalid traffic is, you need to be aware that it accounted for 51% of ad fraud for mobile ads in Europe in 2017.

Not All Invalid Traffic Is Malicious

IVT is a type of ad fraud, as we previously mentioned. However, not all invalid traffic is seen as being fraudulent. For instance, search engines use bots, crawlers, robots, or “spiders” to automatically browse pages on the internet. The goal of this activity is to read the pages so that they could be added to the search engine’s index.

So, this activity is beneficial for marketers rather than detrimental to them. It categorizes content, improves search engine results, and drives organic traffic to websites. Although this isn’t malicious traffic, it’s still nonhuman.

Let’s now examine two types of invalid traffic. 

Two Types of Invalid Traffic

As you’re in the marketing business, you should be able to distinguish between the “good” and “bad” bots. There are two types of invalid traffic:

  • General invalid traffic (GIVT),
  • Sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT)

General Invalid Traffic

General invalid traffic is considered to be the least risky form of IVT. This traffic is generated by crawlers or bots which are sent by non-threatening sources. The following falls under the GIVT category:

  • Crawlers and bots deployed by search engines and data centers.
  • Activity-based filtration.
  • Measurement bots and analytics crawlers.
  • Traffic from unknown but existing browsers.

Even though this is nonhuman traffic, it still serves a practical purpose. And, perhaps most importantly, GIVT does not engage with video ads on your website.

Sophisticated Invalid Traffic

When marketers, publishers, and advertisers talk about invalid traffic, they usually refer to sophisticated invalid traffic. SIVT consists of fraudulent or malignant bots whose goal is to commit a wide range of illegal activities. In the marketing world, they usually generate ad impressions and clicks to artificially increase ad revenue.

Furthermore, SIVT is more difficult to detect than GIVT because fraudsters try their best to mask their behavior as legitimate and create patterns that would appear as being a nonhuman activity. Some examples of SIVT are:

  • Bots, spiders, and crawlers that pretend to be a genuine internet user.
  • Malware.
  • Harvesting and ad stacking.
  • Hacked devices and sessions.
  • Invalid proxy traffic.

It’s easy to conclude that sophisticated invalid traffic is a bigger threat to advertising than general invalid traffic because it’s harder to identify. That’s why you should find a trusted partner that can help you track your campaigns and spot any fraudulent activity. And that partner is Brid.TV!

Detect and Prevent Ad Fraud With Brid.TV

Brid.TV has been actively analyzing and monitoring activities that could be detrimental to publishers, content creators, and advertisers. Adobe recently revealed that around 28% of website traffic comes from nonhuman signals. So, we wanted to limit the effects of advanced fraudulent schemes on brands operating in the online video business. That’s why we’ve partnered up with Protected Media to bring you technology that can detect invalid traffic and put a stop to it.

All of our Premium users can upgrade to use our latest feature — the Protected Media Plugin. With this feature, our system carefully examines every ad request in order to confirm it’s coming from a genuine user. In case it detects that bots are making those ad requests, it won’t fetch an ad from your ad server.

In addition to this, our feature analyzes your traffic and informs you how valid it is. You will know where the threat is coming from and figure out ways to eliminate it.

So, choose Brid.TV to protect your ad revenue and remove any threat from invalid traffic!