Sortable’s Guide for Preventing Invalid Traffic

Invalid traffic (IVT) refers to traffic that artificially inflates your impressions or clicks through malicious or accidental means. Sources of IVT can include bot traffic, incentivized clicks, accidental clicks, or click farms. Increasingly, demand partners are identifying IVT and reducing spend on sites where it occurs and even clawing back revenue where inventory that was served to invalid sources has been identified. As an intermediary in the process, it is Sortable’s policy to pass along associated clawbacks to publishers who have been identified as serving ads to IVT.

IVT is a common occurrence and does not necessarily indicate malicious behaviour on the publisher’s part, however, programmatic ads served to invalid traffic does not qualify to earn revenue and demand partners are not required to pay for it. It is the publisher’s responsibility to monitor the traffic they are presenting to demand partners and to prevent ad requests from being sent on IVT. High levels of IVT can result in restricted access to demand or suspension from Sortable’s network.

Sortable’s demand partners rely on the Media Ratings Council (MRC) accredited vendors and methodology to identify and flag IVT, and are required to refund buyers when IVT exceeds their acceptable thresholds. Sortable has no recourse for rejecting any clawbacks or insisting on payment from our partners for traffic identified by an MRC accredited vendor to be IVT.

In order to minimize clawbacks and the potential termination of ad serving, we recommend that you follow a few basic rules to minimize the likelihood of IVT on your site.

  • Know your traffic and be aware of any changes in sources or spikes from suspicious sources. Use Sortable Analytics to review and familiarize yourself with your regular traffic patterns. You can dive in by region or device, and use UTM reporting to determine how specific campaigns are doing. Google provides some helpful tools and guides to help understand and monitor your sources for changes using Google Analytics.
  • Regularly review your traffic sources to identify suspicious sources or unusual activity from a particular user, IP address, region, or referral website. If you find suspicious activity, block the associated IP address or referral URL.
  • If you buy traffic, use a trusted and reputable source. Sortable encourages our publishers to promote their websites as much as possible, but be careful which sources you use. Google has a handy checklist so you can validate that your sources are buying good quality traffic, and to help you avoid being ripped off by fraudsters.
  • Ensure your ads are properly implemented and laid out on your page to minimize false clicks. IVT can be as simple as improperly implemented ad tags. If your tags are overlapping content or hidden behind elements on the page, this could cause IVT flags. Ensure any changes you make to your page do not negatively impact the execution and visibility of your ad units.
  • Avoid clicking your own ads.If you or your team regularly click on your own ads, those clicks could be flagged as suspicious. The last thing you want to do is look like you are running a click farm.
  • Turn off ad serving to any partners or services that may crawl or regularly ping your site. Sites that are more prone to crawlers may still cause ad impressions to display. If you know your site has a significant number of crawlers or you use services that regularly search your site for information, disable ad serving for these.   

Sortable is proud to support better ad standards for both our publishers and demand partners. We want you to generate the most revenue possible, and to do that, we want to partner with you to identify and remove IVT from your site.

For additional reading on how to prevent IVT we recommend this guide from Google.

If you have any questions, the Sortable Publisher Success Team is here to help. Please contact us at success@sortable.com.