What is Non-Human Traffic?
Non-Human Traffic (or NHT) is a type of traffic made up of any visits to a website in which a human is not involved. It is generally generated by bots, which are programs created to visit websites for various reasons. These can be nefarious or completely reasonable reasons, but they mostly boil down to finding and gathering information automatically.
Non-human traffic reportedly makes up more than half of all internet traffic. This is because of the vast variety of bots out there. Their purposes include (but are not limited to):
- Indexing pages for search engines
- Scanning prices for price comparison websites
- Testing website speed and useability
- Phishing for personal information to be used in scams
- Forcefully trying to gain access to and take over a website
- Advertising fraud – either generating ad impressions or click fraud
As you can see, there are good bots and bad bots. While some bots will identify themselves to analytics programs, many will not. This is where NHT becomes a problem for sites relying on advertising for revenue.
Bots will not only skew analytics for a website, but they will often also generate masses of ad impressions. While this could possibly earn more money on a CPM campaign, as this fake inventory will not yield any ROI for the advertiser it is undeniably a bad thing. A ton of extra ad impressions might feel like a good thing, but all it will really do is drive down your CTR and decrease the likelihood of future bookings.
What it looks like
Any company which earns money through providing metrics (ad platforms, third-party ad servers, analytics platforms, Search Engines etc) will be working to reduce the amount of non-human traffic it records. As a website owner or advertiser, there is basically nothing you can do about it however.
With online advertising your goal remains the same regardless of the amount of NHT your ads are getting. If you are generating conversions or leads, the NHT will simply factor into that as something to optimise away from. If you are paying for views or impressions, your CPV or CPM is already based on what is reasonable, even with non-human traffic occurring.
Basically: Focus your energy on what you are doing. Leave the fight against non-human traffic to the companies who are able to spend much more time and money on it. If it is a core part of their business, they will come up with a solution eventually.
Other names for Non-Human Traffic (synonyms)
NHT, Invalid Traffic, Bot Traffic
It’s the opposite of
Not to be confused with
Ad traffic, Skynet, Animal trafficking
Author: Justin Driskill
Justin is the founder of The Online Advertising Guide and a freelance Digital Projects Manager.