Digital Tools to Detect Fake Traffic are now essential with ad fraud costing businesses millions of dollars a day.
Automated tools or bots are very active online. Some of them perform useful tasks such as basic customer service. However, others have more sinister purposes. Some impersonate real people in order to influence opinion. Others steal content and personal data or produce spam. The most damaging kinds of bots for marketing are click bots. These can drive fake traffic through your ads, forcing you to pay for clicks that weren’t made by people.
These tools provide ways to detect and remove fake traffic. Unsurprisingly, whilst many offer an initial free trial, they require a monthly investment, but if $1 in every $3 is fraud, this could be a timely saving if you have a large online advertising budget.
Why Does Fake Traffic Matter?
One of the most serious examples of a click bot was Methbot, which was using automated browsers to “watch” up to 300 million video adverts a day. At the height of its activity in 2015-6, the Methbot network was taking in between $3-5 million each day. The bot was advanced enough to mimic human behaviour with mouse movements and social network logins, making it harder to detect. Advertisers were paying for videos that weren’t actually reaching real people.
It is estimated that as much as $1 in every $3 spent on advertising online is still being lost to fake traffic fraud. The financial impact of fake traffic can therefore be very significant. It also means that you are wasting your time advertising to bots rather than connecting with real customers. Your marketing campaign might seem to be generating lots of interest, but if this includes a lot of fake traffic it isn’t going to help your business.
In addition to fake advertising traffic, marketers also need to be aware of fake followers, fake influencers and automated bots on social media that can artificially boost the popularity of posts or profiles. Fake behaviour on social networks can also affect metrics such as your engagement rate, which can determine where your content is placed in people’s news feeds.
How to Detect Fake Traffic
Fake traffic is sometimes so obvious that you can spot it during routine checks on your analytics. A sudden, unusually large spike in traffic with no apparent cause can be due to a bot. If the page viewing times are low or traffic is being referred to your site from unknown domains, then these can also be signs of bot activity.
You can also weed out fake accounts from your followers. It is often clear which accounts are fake if you take a look at their content and comments. Fake influencers may have lots of fake followers but very little content. Other bots may follow huge numbers of other accounts but have no followers of their own.
However, if you’re running a business, it isn’t always possible to detect bots and fake traffic by yourself. You don’t’ always have the time to look through all your follower’s profiles or the expertise to detect signs of bot activity on your ads. It can be easier and more efficient to use anti-fraud tools that can automatically detect suspicious activity. You can then block those fake profiles or sources of fake traffic to prevent further losses.
Best Detection Tools for Fake Traffic and Profiles
Social Audit Pro
Social Audit Prois the cheapest tool here and only covers Instagram. It can detect fake followers on your Instagram account and provides a clean-up tool to help get rid of them. The service should soon be extended to other social platforms including Facebook and Twitter. Since you can use the tool on any Instagram profile, it is also possible to find out which influencers have real followers. Prices start from $5 for a one time audit of up to 5,000 followers.
Forensiq by Impact
Forensiq is an intelligent system that can identify bots and ad fraud. It can tell you whether activity is legitimate or automated. However, this tool isn’t able to automatically block suspicious activity so you will still need to do this yourself. No other information provided in terms or pricing of functions.
Everflow’s analytic tools can help you to identify suspicious activity, but it also enables you to set up rules to automatically block suspected bots. Everflow monitors various metrics so it can detect common signs of fraud such as click spamming, proxy traffic, and duplicate conversions. You can adjust the settings to block activity at a certain threshold. The support site provides good advice on how to use the tool effectively. Prices start at $200 a month, but there is a 30 day free trial.
Kochava is a tool for advertising analytics that includes some useful fraud detection tools. It can highlight any unusual activity that could be a bot, including signs of click fraud. The free tool includes a global fraud blocklist, but you will need to pay to access more services. Used by Nike, Microsoft, Shell and MacDonalds.
ShieldSquare can detect a range of different bot activities, including data scraping and fake accounts. It can protect your website, mobile app and social media accounts. ShieldSquare can automatically detect and block suspicious activity. You can get a free trial, but you will need to request a quote to find out how much it will cost for your business.
|Digital Tools to Detect Fake Traffic
|Platforms covered||Free trial||Pricing|
|Social Audit Pro||No but starts at $5 for a one time audit of up to 5,000 followers||From $5 and then $ per follower|
|Forensiq||No information provided||No information provided||No information provided|
|Everflow||Looks like it covers most platforms||Yes||$200 per month|
|Kochava||Looks like it covers most platforms||Yes||Enterprise version – request quote|
|ShieldSquare||Website, social media platforms||Yes||Request quote|