Key Points

  • IVT Definition and Impact: Invalid Traffic (IVT) includes non-human and unintended ad clicks, both of which can negatively affect ad revenue and advertiser trust.
  • Publisher Responsibility: Publishers must ensure their traffic is genuine to maintain credibility with advertisers and safeguard revenue, highlighting the importance of distinguishing between GIVT (General Invalid Traffic) and SIVT (Sophisticated Invalid Traffic).
  • Playwire's Approach: Playwire focuses on quality and transparency, working closely with demand partners to manage and mitigate IVT within their network, demonstrating a proactive stance against IVT.
  • Preventive Measures: Publishers can minimize IVT by monitoring traffic, avoiding low-quality partnerships, ensuring correct ad implementation, and ultimately taking proactive steps to maintain ad quality.

Let’s talk about invalid traffic (IVT).

It’s like the uninvited guest to the digital advertising party. Instead of providing genuine user interaction, IVT masquerades as organic traffic, which munches up ad revenue and dilutes the impact of a publisher's hard-earned audience engagement.

As the digital space becomes more crowded, IVT becomes a tricky digital pickpocket that targets publishers and advertisers alike. Let’s shine a spotlight on this pervasive issue, get a glimpse of how Playwire handles this problem, and uncover the knowledge publishers need to build up their defenses.

-- Article Continues Below --

SEO and Ad Revenue Guide

Read the Complete Guide to Balancing SEO and Ad Revenue

The Tip of the IVT Iceberg

Before we dive deep into the water of IVT, let’s start with a quick definition. In short, invalid traffic is any activity that doesn't come from a real user with genuine interest. 

As you might imagine, this is a pretty broad definition. 

It covers everything from accidental ad clicks to intentionally fraudulent traffic. To break it down even further, you need to understand the difference between GIVT and SIVT:

GIVT (General Invalid Traffic): GIVT usually comes from data centers and is created by bots. Picture GIVT as those benign ghosts in your machine — mostly harmless, floating through the digital ether, occasionally knocking over a vase. These are everyday bots and crawlers, contributing to traffic but not in a meaningful way.

SIVT (Sophisticated Invalid Traffic): SIVT covers the evil side of invalid activity, the type meant to simulate human behavior and actions. They’re the Ocean's Eleven of the digital advertising world — slick, sophisticated, and up to no good. Getting rid of SIVT is no easy task and requires some just as sophisticated bot detection.

That’s GIVT and SIVT, but there’s more to the story than a few simple definitions.

Below the Surface

Within each of these categories, there is even more to unpack. Let’s start with GIVT, our friendly bots and crawlers. There are a few different categories of GIVT:

  • IP addresses that take us back to a server or data center associated with non-human traffic. This is considered bot traffic.
  • Automated scripts or programs that are coded to identify themselves as non-human. This kind of crawler traffic is good, just not for counting ad impressions.
  • Weird and irregular patterns like duplicate clicks or automatically refreshing web pages. When traffic looks like this, it’s categorized as irregular.

Now, let’s see what’s under the surface for SIVT. Here, things get a bit complicated. Unfortunately, this complexity is what makes SIVT so troublesome and effective. Here are a few main categories of SIVT:

  • Automated browsing is when a program or script requires content without user involvement and without declaring itself as a bot or crawler.
  • False representation is when ads are rendered to a different website, application, device, or target. Here, the requested ad inventory is different from what’s supplied. 
  • Misleading user interfaces are where ads might not be visible. They trick users into clicking them or otherwise falsely include one or more ads in an unintended location.
  • Manipulated behavior is where the browser, application, or other program triggers ad interactions without the user’s consent.
  • Incentivized behavior is where traffic is driven by explicit incentives for users to engage with ads — like financial incentives.

Basically, if traffic is coming from anything other than a real user, it’s invalid. If it’s coming from non-malicious actors like search engine crawlers, it’s GIVT. If it’s malicious in nature, it’s SIVT.

Why IVT Matters

Invalid traffic is a big issue. 

By some estimates, in 2024 alone, the advertising industry will see more than $75 billion of ad spend wasted on IVT.

On the publisher side, IVT is like a black spot on their content and brand. It can degrade the value of their ad inventory as advertisers become more wary of spending on placements where engagement is obviously artificially boosted, which can quickly lead to lost revenue potential and a tarnished reputation.

For advertisers, spending money on impressions that will never convert to sales or leads is a massive risk. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unknowns in the programmatic supply chain, prompting calls for added transparency in the industry.

What makes this even trickier is the fact that sometimes IVT, especially SIVT, might not come from the publisher but rather from a third party. 

Ultimately, though, it’s up to the publisher to ensure that traffic is valid.

Tips for Preventing IVT

So, how can publishers stay away from the dreaded SIVT specter? Here are a few tips that can make a real impact:

  • Keep Close Tabs on Your Ad Traffic and Visitors: Break down analytics into meaningful segments using URL channels, customer channels, and ad units. Watch site visitor traffic and pay close attention to suspicious user behavior.
  • Avoid Low-Quality Partnerships: Don’t let the thirst for impressions lead you down a dark path. Only work with quality ad networks, ad tech partners, and never, and we mean never, purchase traffic.
  • Don’t Click Your Own Ads: This one should be simple. Even if you want to see what happens, try to keep your computer mouse away from your own ads.
  • Double Check Implementation: Make sure your ad placements conform to industry best practices and are free from programmatic errors.

-- Article Continues Below --

GTPlanet Case Study

Learn how Advanced Yield Analytics are helping GTPlanet drive strategic business decisions

Playwire’s Battle Plan Against IVT

Here at Playwire, we’ve developed some deep and strong relationships with our SSP and DSP partners. We pride ourselves on maintaining quality and transparency with all of our partners. In fact, many of our partners allow us to auto-approve ads for publishers to ensure there’s no lag in revenue. 

But these relationships aren’t static; we still need to follow through by connecting these partners with our catalog of quality publishers. If there’s even a whiff of SIVT-funny business, it could affect not only that publisher but the entire Playwire network.

We work closely with each of our demand partners to receive reports when IVT is flagged within the Playwire publisher ad network.

When we get reports on high IVT levels, we act — and act fast.

At first, this begins as a friendly nudge. A little message from our Partner Success team to the publisher saying, “Hey! We’re seeing some high IVT rates, and here’s why.” We’ll inform the publisher of our expectations and check back in a month to see their progress.

When IVT levels are flagged at higher rates, say 7% or more, things get serious. 

This might involve weekly check-ins, a note from our leadership team, and, in worst-case scenarios, a pause on the partnership. While our mission is to empower our publishers to reach their full revenue potential, it can never be at the expense of our complete network. 

But don’t get scared. 

If you’re crafting killer content, following ad layout best practices, and not participating in any sort of malicious or fraudulent activity, you should be more than fine.

Preparing for Victory

So, there you have it: the invalid traffic conundrum in a nutshell.

At the end of the day, we want the advertising engine to be running smoothly. Publishers build an engaged audience who click on ads that genuinely interest them, and advertisers get leads and impressions that convert — everything in perfect harmony.

Of course, this isn't a perfect world, and malicious actors are everywhere. 

That’s why we’re doing our best to ensure the ad game is played fairly, and making sure IVT is not in the picture is part of being the digital umpire. 

If you want more information on IVT or want to get in touch with the team here at Playwire to continue this conversation, reach out today.

Contact Us