Publishers’ “Shadow Traffic” Problem: Why Your Traffic Numbers Are Off By 20%
Getting the complete picture of your traffic has always been challenging. Dark traffic first popped up in 2012, when it became clear that traffic stripped of its referrer information was categorized as “direct.” Dark traffic has grown with the rise of HTTPS and the increasing prevalence of private messaging systems (Slack, WhatsApp, and the like).
While campaign tracking helps identify some dark traffic, there’s a new wrench in the gears of our analytics: shadow traffic.
But first, what is shadow traffic?
Shadow traffic is visits to your site that are not captured by your typical analytics software provider.
Shadow traffic is real traffic from real people, but you won’t have any visibility into them or their behavior. Shadow traffic—real traffic that your analytics misses.
Before you can understand shadow traffic, you need to understand how web, content, and product analytics tools work. Every major analytics tool requires you to add code to your website or app. After this code is added, your analytics provider starts reporting on traffic and events.
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