ie7_200x200_revIn July 2014, an invalid traffic attack on IE7 browsers began causing trouble for advertisers and marketers in the US. The attack consisted of a wave of new bots that visited legitimate sites on the IE7 browser causing ad networks to register these bots as user visits and serve them ads. The bots then clicked on these ads and landed back on the advertiser sites, showing a spike in clicks and traffic but with a very high bounce rate. These bots were designed to drive up impressions and inflate ad inventory prices and clicks. Many advertising vendors and online marketers were victims of this attack.

To combat the attack, AdRoll stopped serving impressions on identified publisher sites immediately and developed even tighter methods to identify such traffic. We also constantly monitor the network and credit the amount back to advertisers in the rare cases that their impressions are served to invalid traffic. To continue our efforts in providing the highest quality network for our customers, the AdRoll Trust & Safety team has decided to stop serving impressions on IE7 browsers completely, which constitutes around 1% of overall network traffic.

Fortunately, a detailed analysis showed this will not have a detrimental impact on any of our advertisers’ campaigns. We will supplement this unreliable inventory by serving ad impressions to legitimate users using stable browsers. Advertisers will still be able to reach high-intent users without having to worry about their ads being served to invalid traffic.

It is important to note, however, that invalid traffic is an industry-wide problem for which there is currently no permanent fix. We recommend that advertisers filter out the invalid traffic from their Google Analytics report to see only legitimate traffic. This article by Dave Buesing helps provide clarity on how to scrub data from bots out of a Google Analytics report.

The good news is that top ad networks and exchanges are becoming extremely strict about quality and are putting in stringent policies to safeguard advertisers. Publishers are also increasingly aware of the threat and are making conscious efforts to keep the risk at a minimum. By partnering closely with over 15,000 clients, as well as hundreds of publishers and ad exchanges globally, we’re leading the industry in keeping the web safe for advertisers around the world.

Find out more tips and techniques used by AdRoll to filter out invalid traffic here.