Be whatever role you play at work. if you’re a tech geek - you must have come across this word “user agent” at least once. For this Internet Generation - user agent, is always a part of our day to day lives.
According to Wikipedia “it’s a software that is acting on behalf of a user, such as a web browser that "retrieves, renders and facilitates end user interaction with Web content”.
The User Agent generates a string of data, for example my laptop’s user string looks like this:
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/79.0.3945.88 Safari/537.36
When this string is checked against the right tool it gives out a series of information such as the web browser name & version, the operating system we use, device type, resolution, pixels and much more. The most important reason this data is needed is when a user requests a Web Page, many websites check the type of browser being used in order to render a page to load correctly in the browser/device requesting it. The Web servers also use user agents for a variety of other purposes like showing different content for different Operating Systems, like displaying a trimmed down version of the content for a mobile device. It’s also used to show statistical & analytical data by many platforms like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager e.t.c
Now, since you understand what’s an user agent & its role in the internet industry, let’s learn its involvement in the Digital Ads industry & its relation to Ad Fraud.
Tools like Google Analytics capture this user agent data, when a user clicks on your Ad & lands on your page. The Google Analytics script in your website captures the referral source data to display this information on their dashboard.
When your site gets traffic (organic or paid), you must be using a platform with a dashboard where you can see this data. And if you further dig down, you would find 20% of your traffic have the same user agents. Although Fraudsters & their methods have become more advanced, few of them still send fraud traffic in bulk from farms that consists of same user agents. Once you find out about these user agents, there are ways you can even block them. Since this is a sophisticated fraud, - closely monitoring their behavioral pattern is the key to catch this anomaly in your traffic. And it’s necessary, as we all tried blocking IP Addresses - heck that didn’t help much did they 🤷 !!!!
After scanning billions of clicks at Botman, we found plenty of these user agents are roaming the internet spoofing Advertisers. Being part of the Digital Advertising Industry is not only about methods and ways to bring in traffic - we need have a keen look on the traffic that we’re buying & eliminate fraud, or we end up wasting our Ad Spends on invalid traffic making fraudsters richer every day.