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Ask These 6 Questions To Build a Robust Brand Safety Approach While not all bots are bad, invalid traffic sources can damage a website's reputation and lead to suspension with Google, Amazon, and other partners

By Ankit Oberoi

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The road to organic traffic is paved with a lot of steps. All Web publishers are subjected to some form of invalid traffic over time. While not all bots are bad, invalid traffic sources can damage a website's reputation and lead to suspension with Google, Amazon, and other partners. In fact, invalid traffic can lead to a ban from Google AdSense in particular because it's considered a violation of the AdSense terms and conditions as well as one of their refund and/or quality guidelines.

Let's check out the three major causes for Unintentional Invalid Ad-Traffic:

Redirected or expired domains

When an expired domain is redirected to a new content-rich site, the assumption is that some of your old backlinks will come back in droves. However, it's usually those clicks that are actually coming from spam bots or spider bots sent by search engines such as Google and Bing to check if links exist on your domain. If it's a spammy site, they will block them and show you as an invalid source.

Website getting hacked

A recent study by Imperva showed that in 2019, bad bots accounted for a whopping 24.1 per cent of all Web traffic. Bad bots can hide in innocent-looking traffic, ranging from scrapers that steal content to click bots used to generate impressions and click on display ads.

Changing the default login URL to something other than admin/www and directing any hacking attempt to a 404 error instead can be a good safety approach.

Paid or purchased traffic

Although many website owners attempt to buy traffic, this is actually a dead end. Purchased traffic often originates from click farms, where clicks and impressions are artificially inflated using software or human traffic.

The most important thing to protect your brand is to be able to identify your invalid traffic sources. Here are six questions that you can ask your ad-partner to help ensure the safety of your brand by using ad space on their website.

How do you segregate valid and invalid traffic?

Invalid traffic is any traffic that doesn't originate from a legitimate source or consent. You may have lots of traffic from IVT sources but don't see any of it actually buying or selling ads. Another concern we hear often is how to avoid "ghosting"—where an account suddenly starts buying extremely large amounts of ads after being inactive for months or years at a time.

MRC accredited ad fraud detection and prevention companies must be able to distinguish between human traded (IVT) and invalid traffic. This is essential for accurately identifying the origin of invalid ad web traffic on a device, protecting your brand from being rapidly and unnecessarily spent.

Programmatic vs direct deals, which one to go for?

More money is made through direct deals than from other kinds of programmatic advertising. Publishers frequently save their pricier stock for direct sales. The reason why marketers are prepared to pay more for the ad space is because these spots provide greater click-through rates and conversions.

Determining which type of advertising would suit you the best depends on various factors such as the publisher, content type, frequency and quality of traffic, audience demographics and revenue expectancy for the brand.

How transparent is the ad-ecosystem?

It can be difficult to determine who you're purchasing from and how much of a bite they're taking out of a buyer's ad spend because of the complexity and lack of transparency in the programmatic ad buying ecosystem.

Hence, supply-path optimization is required (SPO).

Simply explained, SPO helps buyers locate the most effective connections and use them to conduct business with sellers. The objective is to eliminate purchasing through ineffective or costly supply routes.

Another important aspect for ad-ecosystem transparency is blacklisting certain keywords to prevent access to information that uses one or more forbidden terms.

If phrases like bomb or shooting are used, the largest ad networks won't let you display advertisements. As you are unable to leverage the traffic you receive to generate income, it loses all purpose. Understanding how your ad-providers blacklist keywords can help in positioning your content in a more strategic and profitable way.

How do you avoid clickbait?

Effective clickbait titles limit your traffic. Yes, this is a bitter pill to swallow, especially since we all want attractive and lucrative campaigns that generate large amounts of traffic. But in reality, clickbait titles may actually lead to lower conversion rates due to "click-fishing" by bad advertisements that are directed toward boosting profit rather than providing a quality experience for visitors to your site.

It's essential to know your Ad-provider's policies and techniques used against clickbait, hate or profanity against religion or communities. Apart from this, signing formal agreements with online content creators to publish their content on your website can help prevent copyright infringement issues.

What metrics do you consider to measure a brand's credibility?

Increasing brand recognition makes it easier for customers to recognize, remember, and relate to your company.

Measuring key performance indicators such as brand impressions, website traffic, search volume data and social media engagement can help you better understand what is working and what is not working for your brand. Ad-partners provide an insight into your business by measuring these metrics that help you develop innovative campaigns, and even utilize the data as a starting point for your further tests and experiments by analyzing and monitoring these KPIs. This helps in improving your brand positioning and builds a solid business credibility.

How do you ensure alignment with IAB's guidelines, ensuring users' privacy?

Compliance with industry standards is one of the things that makes every digital advertising campaign successful. However, personally reviewing each advertisement, picture, and campaign to ensure compliance may be overwhelming, particularly when managing hundreds of campaigns.

That's why it's crucial to understand how your Ad-partner ensures alignment with IAB's guidelines on aspects such as Ad Dimension, Ad Weight, Ad Request Count, and Ad File Compression and ensures user privacy.

Digital advertisements that adhere to IAB guidelines are tailored to offer the optimum user experience. As a result, these ads frequently generate greater click through rates and levels of user interest, which can make a significant difference in the conversion rate of digital ad campaigns.

At the End, It's All About the Partner You Choose

As a business owner, you're in charge of your brand's identity and how you want to portray it. If the people who are handling its messaging aren't doing an excellent job, that identity could be diminished. You need to know that the company you're hiring to manage your ads is part of a system, not just a random ad network. They should be able to handle every aspect of advertising for you, so you never have to be concerned about losing out on money. You won't even notice all the moving pieces in the background if they're doing a great job; all you'll see is increased business done correctly and more success coming your way!

Ankit Oberoi

CEO & Founder, Zelto Inc.

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