Ad fraud vs. Traffic Quality Analysis. How Does Ad Fraud Impact Your Data?



Running a digital marketing campaign typically involves collecting data reflecting their efficiency. However, not all numbers you see in ad manager represent real human actions. It is estimated that even 40% of traffic might be a result of fraudulent bot activity. This obviously distorts your data analysis and negatively impacts the optimization of your campaigns.

So, how to fight against ad fraud and bot activity in your campaign? Read the article to learn why it is important to carefully track the quality of your traffic and how it can impact your advertisement results and costs.

Bots in digital advertisement

Before we move on to discussing how bots impact your traffic quality, let’s define what bots actually are in digital advertising. A bot is a software programmed to perform specific tasks automatically, without human involvement. There are two basic categories of bots:

  1. Good bots that perform essential tasks ensuring the right functionality of the Internet (indexing pages, web crawling, search engines, site monitoring)
  2. Bad bots that perform damaging or illegal tasks for the financial gain of their owner.

“Ad fraud” is the term used to describe the general activity of bad bots aimed at digital advertising platforms. Scammers trick advertisers with a few ad fraud methods, such as generating fake:

  • clicks (click fraud)
  • impressions
  • conversions
  • downloads
  • sign-ups.

There are also other ad fraud methods, such as:

  • domain spoofing
  • cookie stuffing
  • click injection
  • pixel stuffing
  • ad injection.

At Travatar, our main goal is to protect companies and advertisers against draining marketing budgets due to fraudulent bot activity. To learn more about different types of ad fraud from top industry experts, go to our article: What is ad fraud and why is it dangerous for your marketing campaign?.

Consequences of ad fraud

Ad fraud is not easy to detect at a first glance and can lead to severe consequences. Bots efficiently imitate human behaviour, and can easily deceive advertisers, especially if they don’t use sufficient tools to filter fake traffic. What are the possible consequences of ad fraud?

  • Wasting money and resources on fake clicks and impressions
  • Low conversion rate
  • Increased bounce rate
  • Decreased revenue and return on investment (ROI)
  • Not reaching the target audience
  • Increased CTR and general advertisement costs
  • Not reaching the campaign’s goals and objectives
  • Losing brand image
  • Slowing down the website
  • Ruined relationship between advertisers and publishers
  • Ruined publishers’ reputation.

At Travatar we observe the negative impact of ad fraud every day while helping our clients to distinguish real traffic from fake traffic. Fortunately, there are already efficient solutions that protect marketing budgets, which we’re gonna elaborate on in a minute.

Ad fraud in data analytics

Ad fraud does not always result in immediate financial consequences, such as draining the budget due to click fraud. Sometimes it impacts the campaign’s efficiency in a different way: by distorting data analytics.

As bot traffic nearly perfectly blends into human traffic in marketing reports, it makes data unable to be read correctly. Let’s see the example: the data shows that your website is visited quite frequently, however, your conversion rate remains relatively low. You struggle to increase it by optimizing your marketing and sales communication. However, in case most of the traffic you collect is fake and bot-generated, all your efforts will only lead to an even bigger financial loss.

This is the side effect of malicious bot activity. As advertising today is data-driven, being unable to come up with the right conclusions negatively impacts the overall long-term business and marketing strategy.

How else can ad fraud damage your data metrics? Here are the real examples that we have observed at Travatar:

  • Lacking information about the real traffic volume, and the number of real human clicks and impressions makes it impossible to calculate the accurate conversion rate and measure the success of the campaign.
  • Without relevant data, you’re unable to tailor your content to your audience. In case bots increase your bounce rate by leaving immediately after entering the websites, or the opposite - stay there for hours without taking any actions, you don’t really know how much time people spend on viewing your content. Without the ability to analyze how users like your website, you can’t implement the right optimizations and may make bad choices in your future campaigns.
  • You’re unable to analyze demographics. It happens that bot traffic comes from remote countries and provides you with the wrong information about the age, gender and location of your visitors. So, you cannot really measure how efficiently your ad is reaching your target audience and improve your communication accordingly to its needs.
  • You cannot improve your social media strategy, as the activity around your content may include bot-generated interactions. A lack of information on how many real users follows your channels may lead you to choose the wrong advertising channels.
  • You’re unable to measure your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). This metric provides insight into how much you need to spend on acquiring a single customer. Without this information, you have no idea how to calculate your budget to achieve a satisfying return on investment.

How to analyze the traffic quality?

There is no channel resistant to ad fraud, and scammers are getting more and more clever and creative in exploiting advertisers. Lack of sufficient measures and staying susceptible to ad fraud can completely ruin your data analysis and business strategy. Without correct and reliable data, you’re simply unable to make relevant, correct assumptions. This is why you need to analyze the quality of your traffic to make sure you interact with real users.

How to analyze the traffic quality? This is exactly our mission at Avatar. By providing businesses with a well-optimized traffic quality analysis tool, we help them to distinguish Human Traffic, Bot Traffic, and Low-Quality Traffic. Thanks to this, they receive pure and reliable data for further business analysis.

What else can you do to improve your traffic quality analysis? We prepared for you a few tips from our experts that will help you to verify your traffic’s authenticity:

1. Spread awareness

As you’re still reading this article, you already completed the first step: became aware that website data analysis may become skewed and not provide you with the numbers reflecting reality. Your next task is to spread this awareness among your employees and contractors and let them know that working with data requires additional effort put into verifying its quality.

2. Watch your statistics

There are plenty of red flags that can warn you about ad fraud in your campaigns, even if you have only standard Google Analytics at your disposal. We have already described the metrics that you should pay attention to in one of our latest articles: 9 Ad Fraud Warning Signs. How to Detect Fraud in Your Marketing Campaigns. Observing the anomalies such as unusual spikes in clicks or traffic, unexpectedly low conversion rates or suspicious sources of traffic may help you react to ad fraud faster.

However, you should always remember that Google Analytics is not a sufficient traffic quality analysis tool. As it is run by Google, a digital advertising platform that generates turnover from online advertising, it may not provide you with complete information on the level of ad fraud in your campaigns. This is why we recommend double-checking the data in an independent analytical tool.

3. Track user behaviour

Although many bots are able to mimic human behaviour, there are still some ways to distinguish them from real people. With the help of tools such as Hotjar that allow you to watch live session recordings from your website, you can observe your traffic and detect suspicious visits. If you notice that many sessions end immediately and last no more than one second or movement of the cursor doesn’t look natural, this may signal bot activity.

4. Use traffic monitoring tools

Standard analytical tools provided by digital advertising networks, such as Google Analytics or Facebook Ads Manager, may be insufficient in fighting against bot traffic and fraudulent activities. As we already mentioned, their reports typically don’t reveal all the information on the dimension of ad fraud in your ads. This is why dedicated ad fraud detection tools come in handy.

Regular traffic quality monitoring requires performing various kinds of action: analyzing data, watching hundreds of video recordings and estimating the volume of fake traffic. This requires a lot of effort and manual work and does not always provide you with accurate information. Special fraud-detection tools will help you to obtain such data fully automatically and provide you with details about fake traffic.

For example, at Travatar we generate reports revealing the volume of fraudulent activities performed on your website, so you receive ready-to-analyze, filtered data not affected by fraud. We split the data into three categories:

  • Human Traffic
  • Bot Traffic
  • Low-quality Traffic.

Thanks to this, you can easily analyze detailed information about actions performed by each group. Based on this, you can conduct the right analysis that will strongly contribute to your further campaign optimization. With the right tools and accurate traffic quality analysis, you will be able to eliminate the risk of bad decision-making and regain the satisfying ROAS from your campaigns.

Wanna learn more about traffic quality analysis and ad fraud detection? Feel free to contact us. We will help you to distinguish human traffic from bot traffic and reveal the real data related to your ads’ efficiency so you can save your budget and finally get the expected financial gain.