What is Invalid Traffic (IVT)?

Invalid Traffic is any type of traffic/activity that is not from a user that has an actual interest. Invalid Traffic falsely inflates traffic or impression numbers, which in turn causes inflation of advertiser’s costs and/or the publisher’s earnings. 

  • Causes of invalid Traffic can include, but are not limited to:
    • Accidental Clicks by users caused by Intrusive Ads
    • Fraudulent Clicking 
    • Session hijacking/Bots
    • Clicks or impressions generated by publishers clicking their own live ads
    • Repeated ad clicks or impressions generated by one or more users
    • Publishers encourage clicks on their ads that would cause increased CTR, etc.
  • There are two types of Invalid Traffic:
    • General Invalid Traffic (GIVT): This is non-human traffic that doesn’t engage with ads on a site and can have many different purposes. Examples of General Invalid Traffic include:
      • Non-human traffic, such as self-identifying bots, spiders, search engine crawlers.
      • Traffic from known data centre IP addresses that generate non-human traffic.
      • Traffic from unknown, but legitimate, browsers.
    • Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT): This is non-human traffic that is specifically designed to commit illegal activity.  Examples of Sophisticated Invalid Traffic include:
      • Incentivized traffic (i.e. offering users something of value in reward for surfing your website)
      • Hijacked devices and/or hijacked sessions that engage with ads
      • Malware or adware
      • Manipulation of analytics via bots
      • Cookie stuffing

Why is Invalid Traffic bad?

  • Since Invalid Traffic skews a site's numbers, Advertisers no longer have an idea of the type of audience they are buying on. This causes fewer and fewer Advertisers to buy on a specific site which lowers CPMs, impressions, and ultimately revenue. 
    • Essentially, Brands and Advertisers don’t want to spend money on advertising if the creative isn’t being seen by a real human or a user with real interest. 
  • At first, a Publisher may see a spike in revenue as it may take certain Advertisers a few weeks to learn the site and realize there is Invalid Traffic, but once those Advertisers notice they will stop buying and in some cases blacklist the site from ever buying on it again. 
  • Demand Networks will also not approve sites that have Invalid Traffic and will not look to approve a site until it can be proven that the Invalid Traffic has decreased substantially or has been completely removed. 
  • Google is known to blacklist sites that have high Invalid Traffic and this is extremely hard to get overturned within the Google platform. 

Does Freestar monitor Invalid Traffic?

  • Freestar does not monitor Invalid Traffic for Publishers. If the publisher doesn’t want to invest in a system or platform themselves to monitor IVT, Freestar will relay any reports that are communicated to us by the networks. 
    • As is, this doesn’t happen often.
  • If IVT has been reported above the threshold of the network’s acceptable level for an extended period of time, the network may pause ad spend until IVT has lessened or been eliminated altogether.

What if I don’t want to use a third-party to monitor traffic?

  • Here are a few ways you can prevent Invalid Traffic:
  • Using Google Analytics to fully understand who visits your site and your ad traffic
  • Don’t click on your own ads
  • In moderation is acceptable if troubleshooting issues, however, excessive clicking will become suspicious activity and will likely be reported as IVT
  • Blocking bot activity