Why Securing your Advertising Pixels is Mission Critical

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The modern-day marketer relies heavily on the accuracy of their ad pixel.

Global digital ad spend continues to grow massively, at a pace to nearly double itself in the span of just 5 years, going from $335 billion in 2019, to a projected $645 billion by 2024. Over 50% of those ad dollars are spent on Google and Facebook, where media buyers rely heavily on advertising pixels to continuously optimize toward the best possible traffic.

Solutions like Meta Pixel (formerly Facebook Pixel) and Google’s Performance Max are becoming the brain and command center for performance advertisers, with the operating assumption being that their algorithms will drive better results.

Problem is, up to 40% of signals sent to ad pixels come from invalid traffic.

Prominent ad pixels rely on machine learning algorithms to maximize campaign performance. They register signals from all traffic coming to site, via paid, direct, and organic sources, identifying those users who are most likely to meet the customer’s goals, whether it be a click, a conversion, a purchase, or any other desired outcome. But the reality today is that a large portion of those signals is generated by invalid forms of traffic like botnets, automation tools, malicious human users, dubious data centers, and proxies.

CHEQ’s own data showed that last black Friday, bots made up one-third of all online shoppers. Many companies see invalid traffic rates as high as 40% on their website, and in some cases even higher.

With so many skewed signals, ad optimization does more harm than good.

The whole idea behind “smart campaigns”, as opposed to standard campaigns, was to automate operations and lift performance. But when optimization is based on a bot click, a fake lead submitted via an automation tool, or a purchase made by a fraudster as part of a carding attack, then the feedback loop is skewed.

The results are extremely damaging and can be felt at both the ad spend and revenue level, as well as further downstream where increased bad traffic can abuse company resources and jeopardize data integrity.

Skewed ad pixels attract more bad users, wasting budgets and hurting growth.

When advertising pixels register a conversion event from an invalid user, this is essentially teaching the algorithm to bring in more users like this one. When those kinds of invalid signals make up a significant portion of the signals being collected, then the entire model skews towards invalid users, bringing even more bad traffic into the funnel. This means remarketing budgets are being wasted on fake users, instead of being put in front of authentic, paying customers.

Lookalike audiences are polluted, further contaminating the model.

As more bad traffic comes to a site, advertising audiences and lookalike models also become skewed, creating even more downstream damage, which ultimately results in even poorer audience quality. Marketers find themselves with complexly invalid audience segments, unbeknown to them.

The site’s overall invalid traffic increases, causing more downstream effects.

As the optimization engine continues to skew more and more towards fake traffic, this in turn increases the overall invalid traffic rate coming to the site. Here the damage starts to be felt across the entire go-to-market operation.

Key site metrics like bounce rates, time-on-page, and unique visits are completely skewed, hurting day-to-day optimizations as well as more macro strategic decisions. Site resources are abused, as invalid requests inflate tech stack bills and flood chat support widgets with spam. Retailers see shopping cart and payment gateway abuse spike when invalid traffic increases, and B2B sites are overrun by invalid leads polluting their CRM.

Pixel Guard is now available to prevent pixels from firing on invalid users.

While methods like IP Blocking and Audience Exclusion have become the primary tool for combating invalid campaign traffic, they are not applicable to the world of smart campaigns. That’s why CHEQ’s Pixel Guard is becoming the essential layer of security for performance marketers, preventing ad pixels from firing on invalid site visitors.

As visitors come to a site, CHEQ’s detection engine flags invalid users and blocks the pixel from registering that visitor’s activity. This results in un-skewed ad optimization, clean audience segments, and reduced remarketing waste, helping drive the efficiency of marketing efforts up, rather than down.