What’s the difference in SIVT vs. GIVT?

Click fraud in advertising has gone from a niche problem to a multi-billion-dollar problem. Fake traffic clicking on paid links is estimated to have cost advertisers upwards of $61 trillion in 2022.

Fake traffic can be found in two flavors: general invalid traffic (GIVT) and sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT).

How much of your invalid traffic are malicious and deliberate, and how much is just a normal consequence of advertising online. What can you do to reduce SIVT and/or GIVT?

What is General Invalid traffic (GIVT)?

General invalid traffic is generally benign. These bots will interact with your website without converting but are usually not fraudulent traffic.

The majority of GIVT comes from useful bots like search engine crawlers, data centres, and proxy traffic from VPSs. It is very easy to spot general invalid traffic. It doesn’t attempt to imitate human behavior nor mask its activities.

GIVT is transparent and rarely generates fraud. Actually, GIVT is often helpful. For example, search engine crawlers make web pages accessible to searchers. Or bots can gather data for your research.

If not monitored properly, general invalid traffic can have a detrimental effect. This is a good example of how to not distinguish between real traffic and GIVT traffic.

It is possible to believe that traffic has increased due to SEO or other strategies and make other crucial decisions based on this distorted data.

What is Sophisticated Incvalid Traffic (SIVT), and how can it be used?

As the name implies, sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT) is a type of fake traffic that mimics the activities of human users. SIVT uses various methods to avoid detection. It is often used for fraudulent online applications, particularly for organized fraud.

SIVT is often used to generate revenue via invalid traffic on ad platforms and publishing platforms. Fraudulent developers often use new technology and processes to increase their chances of success. This could include targeting CTV (connected TV), or hijacking a trend in order to create a fake website or app.

This makes it much more difficult to spot invalid traffic. This often means that the platforms’ attempts to block fraud are several steps behind those of sophisticated fraudsters. Marketers need to be aware and prepared for the challenges and changes that SIVT can bring.

SIVT is fraudulent traffic. This is the type of traffic you should be concerned about. To detect and keep it from your site requires advanced analytics, multipoint coordination and lots of human intervention.

Learn more about invalid traffic by consulting our guide.

Different types of sophisticated, invalid traffic

Bots and spiders are the most common automated actors on the internet, and some of the more sophisticated invalid traffic is generated by them. Other forms of SIVT can also be caused by hijacked devices, user sessions, adware, malware, manipulation and falsification device and location data.

Bots and spiders

These automated scripts can be used for legitimate and useful purposes, such as collating search results. They can also be used for fraudulent activities, such as spamming or brute force account access.

Malware and devices that have been hacked

They can also be run by scripts but, because they started as user activity, it is much harder to identify. This is an example of how malware-infected software can be used to remotely execute fraudulent activities on a legitimate device. This happens almost without the consent or knowledge of the user.

Manipulation or falsification location data

This happens when fraudsters attempt to gain access from blacklisted locations. A device can be bypassed by changing its device ID (user agent or UA string). If a data server pretends to be an iPhone in the USA, it may load ads-laden web pages and then fraudulently click on those ads.

Learn more about the workings of user agent spoofing.

Proxy traffic invalid

These proxy servers, also known as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), are used to conceal activity and spread fraudulent proxy traffic. VPNs are used often by legitimate users. However, not all VPN activity can be fraudulent. However, more often than not, sophisticated and fraudulent traffic will hide its tracks using a proxy or VPN.

Learn more about VPNs, click fraud.

Traffic incentives

Although technically valid traffic, incentivised traffic doesn’t result in any conversions. Incentives to visit websites for other rewards than those advertised on the site are not real and will likely result in no conversions. While this incentivized traffic may be legitimate in certain cases (e.g. view-to-earn advertisements), there are other ways to pay people to view ads.

Some people have found that paid-to-click sites (PTC) are a great way to make a few bucks a day. Many of these sites are fraudulent and not only scam the advertisers, but also deceive their users by failing to pay them the money they earn.

You can read our article on scam PTC sites.

Domain laundering and website spoofing

This tactic is very simple. This tactic is quite simple. A domain with low authority is disguised as a more desirable domain and charges higher fees (CPMs or flat advertising fees) depending on the misrepresented authority.

How to detect sophisticated invalid traffic? (SIVT).

Advanced analytics and complex traffic detection strategies are often required to detect and stop SIVT.

These signs will help you spot sophisticated ineligible traffic.

Attention to web traffic data

SIVT can be detected quickly if you pay attention. It all starts with understanding the typical site traffic. What is your average site traffic per week?

It could be an indicator that your ads are not performing well. If you see a lot of people visiting a landing page from underperforming ads, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Another point to consider is IP addresses clicking on the same ad multiple times or on unrelated ads.

SiVT can be found in any unusual traffic activity.

Inspect packet headers

You can uncover a lot of SIVT by using packet headers. These headers can provide information about specific IP activity. Many fraudsters won’t bother to obfuscate data at this level so it’s a good place to start.

If multiple devices are found on packets coming from the same IP address, this could indicate a proxy server. It could be harmless but it could indicate a larger problem.

Open-source operating systems such as Linux are another dead giveaway, because they are popularly used by cybercriminals online for fake traffic generation.

Another red flag is the use of browser extensions on mobile devices. The majority of users don’t require extensions for mobile browsers, unless they are trying to hide the device.

Keep track of your ad placements

It is easy to create your ads on Google and forget about them. However, this is how SIVT can be a problem for businesses. There are many websites that have been signed up to be publishing platforms, but are only there to make fraudulent ad revenues from your ads campaigns.

These might seem like great options on the surface. They drive lots of traffic and may even appear to have great domain authority. But you’ll soon find that traffic doesn’t convert well. As your ad spend increases, you’ll see how much.

It is worth taking the time to look at where your ads are located and where your traffic comes from, so that you can identify any suspicious traffic. It’s a smart idea to also report fraudulent traffic to Google once you’ve identified the source.

How to Block Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT).

While most ad platforms offer some fraud filtering, it usually only removes the most obvious or invalid traffic. While web scrapers, basic bots and other forms less complex traffic are frequently blocked, this is not always in real-time.

Google is one example of a company that automatically refunds traffic that it deems fake or not genuine. It can take several hours, if not days, for the traffic to be detected, blocked and refunded to advertisers.

ClickCease is a click fraud prevention tool that allows you to prevent most types of invalid traffic from your PPC ads.

ClickCease uses a blacklist to filter out suspicious activity, bots, and fraudulent devices. This list is constantly updated. Advertisers can rest assured that fraud is being blocked in real-time and they won’t have to track clicks to determine if they are losing money.

ClickCease is the industry’s best click fraud prevention tool. It blocks SIVT on Google Ads Facebook Ads and Bing Ads.

Get a 7-day free trial if you are running any type of PPC campaign.

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