Alert: New Bot Traffic Sources May Skew Publisher Website Data

September 7, 2022

Steve Guenther, VP, Digital Auditing

bot-warning

Publishers using Google’s Universal Analytics may see an increase in suspicious website traffic in August, according to AAM’s digital auditors. This surge in bot traffic may impact data in all reporting categories and reports such as audience, acquisition, and behavior, and it may be in a material amount for some. Reports from Google Analytics 4 may also be affected.

This bot traffic appears to originate from four countries: Seychelles, Czech Republic (Czechia), Russia and Netherlands. AAM’s auditors identified this traffic as part of our standard thorough review of website analytics for publishers participating in AAM’s digital audit programs.

To prevent this data from negatively impacting reporting, our digital audit team recommends that publishers:

  1. Start with the Overview/Geo report to identify any changes in behavior for users from these countries such as surges in traffic with low average sessions/time spent on pages when compared with prior months. If fluctuations are detected, then the bot network might be impacting reporting.
  2. Assess your website’s front-end security/content distribution infrastructure (e.g., Cloudflare, Akamai) to block this traffic or apply a challenge–response test (CAPTCHA) for traffic originating from these countries as a first-line of defense.
  3. For August reports, apply segments to identify and quantify this traffic. While not all traffic originating from these countries may be robotic, creating a new segment in Universal Analytics based on the conditions shown below can help publishers quantify this traffic and gain a better understanding of the impact it might have on their August metrics.

Filter by country example

If you have questions about your website traffic, creating custom filters or how to get started in AAM’s digital audit programs, our auditing team is glad to help. Contact us to learn more.

 

Topics: Digital

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