Keep it Real: Minimize Invalid Website Traffic!

There was a time in digital media operations where an impression was, simply put, an impression.  It was straightforward, but incomplete. It couldn’t address questions that we’ve since come to associate with impression quality – how long was the ad seen? Was it seen by a human being?

We’re in an era where fake website traffic is a commodity, bought and sold, unwittingly or otherwise.  Some brands may have no idea it even exists, depending on the breadth of their digital operations experience. And while smaller pubs may be somewhat more insulated from invalid traffic, they aren’t immune to the problems it brings.

What are some practical steps a smaller brand can take to help minimize invalid website traffic?

Use caution when sourcing buyers:

Try to always “know your buyer”.  Even if you work with networks, be proactive in engaging them, ensure you get adequate and transparent reporting, and that any concerns with traffic or individual ads are promptly addressed.  Your objective is avoiding layers of opacity between what you’re selling – and who is actually buying it.

…including programmatic:

Don’t fall into the “set and forget it” trap. Programmatic is fluid, which means your approach must remain proactive. Be sure you are making full use of your seller dashboard – it is your primary means of control.  Additionally, it’s crucial that you become familiar with, and use, the ads.txt initiative, which is your official list of the online entities that actually have permission to sell your inventory.  If you’re just getting into the programmatic pool, don’t be afraid to start small. Learn as you go.

Work with your web development team to understand your incoming website traffic:

Good communication between your tech and ad ops teams is always invaluable, and understanding traffic is no exception.  Learn to analyze your traffic logs; identify anomalies such as unusual spikes in activity. Pay attention to browsers as well – correlation between browsers (particularly old, vulnerable ones) and invalid traffic is common.

…then be sure you have tools to make those “targetable” insights actionable:

Whether you’re blocking domains or old browsers, a good ad server should be able to do it.  See what options exist in your platform to aid in minimizing invalid website traffic. If you’re not sure what capabilities you have for control at the ad serving level, reach out to your product support team – or (if one is not available to you) don’t hesitate to check the numerous ad ops resources online – you’re often a Google search away from the answer you need.

Finally, consider your site design.  Poor viewability and intentional clickjacking are both potential invalid website traffic sources, so be sure ads meet IAB standards as much as possible, and that site layouts don’t create unintentional interaction between ad units and content. .


More about Kristin: Kristin Nousu is Director of Ad Operations for With 22 years of experience in ad operations, she has a particular interest in creating adserving strategies/taxonomies for publishers, and programmatic adserving.



Niche Media has the best events, education, and training in media! Our super niched-out events & content give target-audience publishers in the B2C, hobbyist, B2B, city & regional, and association markets the tools they need to build revenue, audience, and more.