Paid Traffic: The Good and The Bad

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Publishers have become plenty savvy when it comes to the world of paid traffic and frequently use this approach to drive visitors. Paid traffic can be an important component of success if correctly used and if well understood. Some ways in which publishers are using paid traffic are through native ads, social media ads such as Facebook ads, paid search like Google Ads and Bing, paid influencers, pay per click, paid content promotion and display ads. Each of these methods pump traffic to sites and the fun starts there. However, some publishers question, “What percentage of paid traffic is actually real?”

Why Do Publishers Use Paid Traffic?

There are many reasons for a Publisher to use paid traffic. For starters, Publishers have more opportunities to monetize with the more users they have. Using paid traffic is an additional way outside of organic traffic to further develop and grow your core audience. Paid traffic allows publishers to have more opportunities to convert new visitors who are driven to their site into a member of their core audience. Since a core audience is the most loyal, this can also help bolster other key metrics for monetization. Paid traffic also allows Publishers to expand their market by expanding their reach. This helps publishers grow their business outside and their audience demographics.

Improving visibility on the web, is another reason for a Publisher to use paid traffic. With so many sites on the web, visibility is an important factor. The more eyes that can be drawn to your site, the more engagement you may receive. The more impressions your site gets, the more you will attract paid advertisers, which leads to an increase in revenue. All as a result of paid traffic. In short, Publishers use paid traffic every day in order to reach their specific goals. Whether they are using paid influencers, pay per click, paid content distribution, Facebook ads, Google ads or any other paid traffic approach, Publishers are monetizing their sites and boosting their ROI and capitalizing on paid traffic.

How to Tell if Paid Traffic is Real

There is no sense in letting fake traffic rain on your parade. Yes, it exists and it is unavoidable if you are utilizing paid traffic sources. Generally speaking, fake traffic is traffic generated by bots or software, as opposed to human interaction. The problem with fake traffic is that it is not sustainable and is not able to be converted. Therefore, when you generate traffic through paid sources it is important to weed out the fake traffic from the real human traffic, which is completely doable. One of the best ways to tell if paid traffic is real or fake, is by monitoring the patterns in your traffic. Here are a few patterns to look for that can help weed out fake traffic:

  • Browsing or Interaction Patterns – Bots (the scoundrels generating all that fake traffic) do not have a typical browsing or interacting pattern like normal users. Where natural human users usually scroll up and down and click in multiple places. Bots, on the other hand, will typically produce one precise click on an element.
  • Source Categorization – Look for sources of the traffic coming into your site such as geographic location. This can be seen through your Google Analytics. If you see a huge amount of views coming from a far off country then chances are these views are fake. Also, look at language and city as well. If your web content is aimed at an English speaking audience and you are receiving views from non-english speaking countries, this is a cause for concern.
  • Bounce Rate – A key indicator is your bounce rate. An extremely high bounce rate should be a red flag and should be looked into, regardless if the culprit is fake traffic. A bounce is a single page session on your site. BOTs are notorious in doing the absolute minimum and will produce one single hit to your site then bounce.
  • Unusual Spikes in Behavior – When looking to weed out fake traffic it is important to spot any changes from before and after you purchased your views. Look through your analytics and notice what is different and investigate how those changes came to be.
  • # of Page Views – A way to differentiate between organic page views and Bot page views is to look at the number of pageviews, the time and date. Bots will typically produce a regular amount of pageviews such as 1,000 pageviews per hour.
  • Site Engagement – Bots are not going to interact with meta-elements and site extensions such as live chat and timed pop-overs.

Why Should Publishers Care if Traffic is Real?

There are so many reasons why a publisher should care if traffic is real or not. It’s not only about reeling in all the traffic you can because if your traffic is all fake, then it won’t mean much. One reason to care is in order to optimize a new campaign with your advertisers, you need to make sure you are working with human traffic, not fake Bot traffic. You can not quantify the incoming results if you are utilizing data that is generated from Bots.

Another reason – fake traffic can not make purchases. Fake traffic cannot love your brand. Fake traffic is simply comprised of bots who do not carry emotion. Real traffic brings in potentially qualified prospects and creates leads for your advertisers, who in turn find your site valuable and continue to pay to be a part of it. In addition, you can better understand your customers by studying the behavior patterns of real traffic, and use the results to develop content that speaks directly to them. Lastly, real traffic is long-lasting and carries potential to build from.

Publishers have a responsibility in the work they do for their audiences. The internet can be a huge market to make profit from, but only if played correctly. A reputable publisher will know how to achieve success and increase revenue. They utilize paid traffic in the correct manner, and produce real results.