Bot impressions are bots that flood websites with views, which often generate revenue. These bots are not just there to overrun the website, they also steal revenue from advertisers and publishers while doing so.
Publishers suffer because although they get paid for ads viewed on their sites, the bots only count as fake views. Advertisers lose revenue because the ads they pay for are not viewed by humans.
Which sites are affected
All types of websites, especially those that rely on advertising revenue. Smaller sites are more likely to be affected because they do not have the resources to fight bots. Sites with popular content also suffer from bot impressions, as other web pages link to them and generate a lot of traffic quickly.
How bots flood a page with views
In order to flood a page with bot views, the bots link from many websites, which all have their own source of traffic. This can be done by generating as many as 20-30 requests every second during a 40-second period, pushing human users out and replacing them with virtual visitors.
How to identify bot impressions in analytics
In the past, bots were allowed to return for multiple views in a short period of time without being detected. Today, Google and Facebook have taken steps to fight bots by identifying them after a single pageview within a session. However, most ad networks still count these bogus views as valid so publishers get paid less than they deserve.
Therefore, to identify bots in your analytics report, use these steps:
- Identify a slow-loading webpage with a sudden surge in traffic in a short time frame.
- Look at the user agent and compare it with browser versions which do not load pages fast enough for that kind of traffic spike.
- Impressions from certain countries which don’t have an ad market should also raise suspicion when someone suddenly gets many views from them over a short period of time.
Frequently Asked Questions about bot impressions
What is a bot shower?
A bot shower occurs when an ad exchange or other website loads the same third-party domain in order to generate thousands of impressions quickly and easily. This technique is mainly used for gaining top positions on search engine rankings. Using this method does not imply that there are any malicious intentions; however it can degrade the user experience of popular sites with too many ads at once.
How do you fight bot impressions?
Publishers should make sure they use an ad network that uses fraud-fighting methods to filter out bots, which include the user agent, referrer, IP address or time spent on page. Also, publishers can track how many people click on their articles and monitor the ratio between views and clicks. This will help them determine whether a page is being viewed by humans or machines.
What should advertisers do to protect themselves from bot impressions?
Advertisers can monitor the amount of traffic pages get and how it affects their ads. They should also look at what sites send them traffic, as bots usually only direct it toward known commercial websites. Advertisers can also use bot detector tools which show how many fake views a web page gets over a certain period of time.
Should you block all bot requests?
No. It is important to understand that not every bot within an IP address equals a malicious attempt at flooding a webpage with fake views. Certain programs and parts of website monitoring services work as crawlers and look for updates on content regularly without sending numerous requests back and forth. These are considered to be safe bots and should not be blocked.