Policy: What Is Invalid Traffic?

As a publisher, you are responsible for ensuring that your ad implementation complies with Google Policy,  and that you have to understand about invalid traffic and haven’t paid for traffic from unreliable sources. To define what is invalid traffic, please go through this post for better understanding.

Invalid traffic is any activity that doesn’t come from a real user with genuine interest. It can include accidental clicks caused by intrusive ad implementations, fraudulent clicking by competing advertisers, advertising botnets and more and any clicks or impressions that may artificially inflate an advertiser’s costs or a publisher’s earnings. Below are some specific activities that affect the traffic that publishers need to understand:

What is invalid user activity?

Invalid user activity is when a real person interacts with an ad, but not out of actual interest.

Some actions are accidental, like when a mobile user reaches for a link and taps an ad instead. Others are intentional and sometimes downright fraudulent.

For example, publishers might ask (or even pay) users to click on ads, watch videos, or view content they would not normally engage with to increase their impression counts.

Traffic caused by deceptive tactics like these creates bad user experiences and provides little or no value to advertisers, which is why were committed to stamping it out.

What is advertising fraud?

Simply put, it’s any invalid activity designed to increase ad traffic while pretending to be genuine. The most common methods include:

  • Click farms (hiring people to manually click ads)
  • Automated browsing (running a hidden browser on a user’s computer to automatically visit ad sites)
  • Session hijacking and botnets (hijacked computers used to create non-human traffic and clicks)
  • Falsely represented inventory (traffic falsely portrayed as coming from high-value users or a site claiming it is a different site).

What is click fraud?

Display impression fraud is any fraudulent or malicious activity used to increase the number or value of image-based ad impressions or video views. Impression fraud uses many of the tactics described in the section above to mislead advertisers into believing the traffic is genuine. To cover their tracks, fraudsters often mix the fraudulent traffic in  with real user traffic, making it more difficult to detect.

What is display impression fraud?

Any click on an ad, web page element, or content for the sole purpose of increasing click revenue constitutes click fraud. Most people who commit click fraud either want to sabotage their competitors by exhausting their ad budgets, or boost their own revenue by driving up the number of ad clicks on their websites. Here are some of the most common methods:

  • Click farms: teams of people who can be hired to manually click on ads
  • Click bots: software that can be purchased or programmed to automate click activity
  • Clickjacking: hiding invisible ads on a website or manipulating their position to cause users to click them unintentionally
  • Botnets: networks of hijacked computers that generate huge numbers of clicks while registering as human.

More: How Publishers Can Prevent Invalid Activities?

Guidance and 3 Discourage Positions

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