Pixalate is sharing an ongoing series of articles which will unpack some of the inside baseball intrinsic to the standards and processes in which effective and reliable audience measurements are validated by the MRC. Our series continues today with an overview of invalid traffic ("IVT"). Pixalate is an MRC-accredited company for the detection and filtration of Sophisticated Invalid Traffic ("SIVT") desktop and mobile web impressions.
The Media Rating Council (MRC) devised a standard for Invalid Traffic Detection and Filtration Guidelines. The standard avoids the blanket use of the word “fraud” and instead classifies two types of invalid traffic:
Organizations may be accredited for either GIVT or SIVT by the MRC. As the harder-to-meet-standard, SIVT accreditation includes GIVT accreditation. The definitions of each are packed with jargon and can be intimidating to wade through. In a series of posts, we define and then demystify each standard.
“‘General Invalid Traffic,’ consist[s] of traffic identified through routine means of filtration executed through application of lists or with other standardized parameter checks.”
Examples of GIVT include:
“‘Sophisticated Invalid Traffic,’ consists of more difficult to detect situations that require advanced analytics, multi-point corroboration/coordination, significant human intervention, etc., to analyze and identify.”
Examples of SIVT include:
The first banner ad on the web appeared in 1994 on hotwired.com, the online version of Wired magazine. The ad was for ATT, and it had an estimated 44% click rate. While today’s legitimate click rates hover around a 100th of this initial success, this ad — and its clicks — created a digital gold rush as advertisers began to pay for those precious clicks.
And where there is money to be made, there is always fraud.
By the beginning of the current decade, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on the web had lost its luster. Clicks were too easy to fake, and CPM advertising was the dominant model. But ad serving and measurement companies were beginning to identify the myriad ways in which seemingly valid ad impressions could also be faked.
Between 2014 and 2015, the MRC began its work to establish the guidelines for measuring and filtering such invalid traffic on the web. While we typically refer to most such traffic as fraud, it was critical to industry-wide adoption that any standard account for both intentionally fraudulent and unintentionally invalid traffic.
The resulting standard: The Invalid Traffic Detection and Filtration Guidelines, which define GIVT and SIVT.
Pixalate offers several products and services to flag and filter Invalid Traffic. Additionally, all of our industry standard Seller Trust Indexes consider both SIVT and GIVT as key inputs when scoring the overall trust of programmatic advertising sellers.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog reflects Pixalate’s opinions with respect to the factors that Pixalate believes can be useful to the digital media industry. Any proprietary data shared is grounded in Pixalate’s proprietary technology and analytics, which Pixalate is continuously evaluating and updating. Any references to outside sources should not be construed as endorsements. Pixalate’s opinions are just that - opinion, not facts or guarantees.
Per the MRC, “'Fraud' is not intended to represent fraud as defined in various laws, statutes and ordinances or as conventionally used in U.S. Court or other legal proceedings, but rather a custom definition strictly for advertising measurement purposes. Also per the MRC, “‘Invalid Traffic’ is defined generally as traffic that does not meet certain ad serving quality or completeness criteria, or otherwise does not represent legitimate ad traffic that should be included in measurement counts. Among the reasons why ad traffic may be deemed invalid is it is a result of non-human traffic (spiders, bots, etc.), or activity designed to produce fraudulent traffic.”