Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT)

Sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT) is a type of fraud that uses sophisticated methods to generate fake traffic or clicks on online ads. This fraud can be difficult to detect and can have a negative impact on businesses, website owners, and advertisers. 

Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT) vs General Invalid Traffic (GIVT)

There are two main types of invalid traffic: general invalid traffic and sophisticated invalid traffic. General invalid traffic (GIVT) is digital activity carried out by non-human means, for example by search engine crawlers or bots. Although all types of invalid traffic can give false advertising metrics, GITV is normally caused by automated internet use that isn’t trying to trick advertisers or pretend to be a human user. 

Sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT), on the other hand, is generated by humans who are trying to defraud advertisers or website owners. This type of fraud is more difficult to detect because it uses methods that imitate genuine user behaviour, such as using real IP addresses, cookies, and clicking patterns. SIVT can have a much bigger impact on businesses than GITV because it can result in real losses, for example, if an advertiser ends up paying for fake clicks on their ads. 

Types of SIVT

There are several types of SIVT, including:

  • Scraping bots: Automated programs that copy and content from websites. They can create fake traffic by hitting organic landing pages to scrape text, images, or videos and also by generating false clicks on paid ads.
  • Clickjacking: A type of fraud that uses tricks to get people to click on links or ads without them knowing. For example, a malicious website might disguise a part of a pop-up to make it look like a legitimate button. When the user clicks the button, they are actually clicking on an ad or link on the malicious site.
  • Click fraud: This involves creating fake traffic or clicks on online ads. Click fraud can be done by using bots, clickjacking, or human-operated click farms.
  • Click farms: Companies that employ workers on very low wages for the sole purpose of generating thousands of fake clicks on online ads every day. Most click farms exist in China and other developing countries where there are lax regulations about working conditions. 
  • Domain spoofing: This involves making a fake website that looks identical to a real website. The fake website then generates fraudulent revenue by fooling advertisers into bidding for ad space on illegitimate sites which are only ever visited by SIVT bots.
  • Cookie manipulation: A method of fraud that uses cookies to create fake clicks on ads. Cookies are small pieces of data that are stored on a user’s computer. They can be used to track a user’s activity online and are often used by advertisers to target ads.
  • Competitor clicks: A type of fraud that involves intentionally clicking on an ad or link to a competitor’s website for the purpose of driving up their advertising costs or reducing their website’s ranking in paid search results.
  • Self-clicking: A type of fraud that involves a person clicking on their own ads or links. This can be done to generate revenue from affiliate programs or to increase website traffic.

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How Can You Tell if Your Site Has Been Impacted by SIVT? 

There are several signs that your website may have been impacted by SIVT, including:

  • A high number of clicks or views from a single IP address
  • Clicks or views that come from unusual locations
  • A high number of clicks or views during odd hours
  • A high number of clicks or views from browsers that are not typically used to visit your website

What Are the Consequences of SIVT? 

There are several consequences of having SIVT on your site, including:

  • Advertisers may stop advertising on your site if they believe that you have a high level of fraudulent traffic 
  • Your website may be suspended or banned from advertising networks if they believe that you are participating in fraudulent activity
  • You may lose money if you’re paying for fake clicks and traffic generated by bots or human click farms
  • Your website’s reputation may suffer if people believe that you are engaged in fraudulent activity

How Can You Protect Your Site From SIVT? 

There are several steps that you can take to protect your site from SIVT, including:

  • Install a fraud detection system: This can help to identify and block fraudulent traffic. Businesses who use Lunio have reported significant savings on their ad spend, with some businesses saving up to £90,000 per month.
  • Filter traffic by IP address: This can help to block traffic from known bots or click farms. 
  • Monitor click-through rates: This can help to identify unusual patterns of activity that may be indicative of fraud.
  • Require users to verify their identity: This introduces a point of friction into the user experience of your site, but it’s an effective way of stopping most  forms of ad fraud.