AVG causes fake traffic – Could spell big problems for Web Analytics

The Register in the UK reports that a new AVG function in its latest release mimicks a visitor so well that it’s very difficult to spot. The idea is that people with AVG’s LinkScanner employed goes through the first ten google results of a search and tries to spot malicious software applications. In order to detect malicious content the software looks just like a human being. This has serious implications for the websites that appear at the top of the search engines for keywords.

Some claims have been made that traffic has spiked as high as 80% on some sites. AVG of course didn’t really think about the analytics implications. Isn’t it time that Analytics and online Security companies started talking to each other?

No-one wants the situation where malicious software or viruses infiltrate your PC, analysts, advertisers and consumers alike. But companies like AVG aren’t helping by designing software that can’t be filtered out by analytics companies. Big money could be lost by online advertisers and in a worst case scenario the confidence goes out of the market meaning eventually AVG suffer.

This needs fixing fast.

Editors note;
it seems that AVG have backed down and will issue fixes to their software so it looks like pressure from the industry can be applied and the vendors will listen. Let’s hope they keep up the good work.

Steve is a well known analytics specialist, author and speaker. A pioneer since 2002, he established one of the first European web analytics consultancies (Aboavista), later acquired by Satama (now Trainers’ House) in 2006. In 2008 he wrote his first book Cult Of Analytics published on May 14th 2009. He currently serves as CEO at Quru and has presented and keynoted web analytics topics across Europe. These include The Internet Marketing Conference (Stockholm), The Search Engine strategies (Stockholm), IIH (Copenhagen), the IAB Finland (Helsinki), Media Plaza (Amsterdam), Design For Conversion (Amsterdam) The eMetrics Summit (London, Munich, Stockholm), Divia (Helsinki) in addition to sitting on dozens of panels.

Posted in General, Privacy, Web Analytics
2 comments on “AVG causes fake traffic – Could spell big problems for Web Analytics
  1. Steve,

    One potential omission from the story was that they are using logfiles to do their web analytics and while logfiles as we all know have their benefits, they do suffer from the problems like the constant need to filter for robot traffic.

    Javascript tag based solutions, while not totally immune, suffer dramatically less because of robots.

    It might have been optimal to point that out in the story, but of course that would have taken away from some of the sensationalism (and that as we know is a good way to sell stories / newspapers).

    -Avinash.
    PS: Gomez is amongst some of the robots that does execute javascript tags, I wanted to provide that as a proactive example that this can be a issue for tag based solutions as well. But still painting the broad “web analytics is terrible” is irresponsible.

  2. @Avinash
    Of course I should’ve mentioned it’s only really a problem for log file software.

    My point really though was that we as an industry should start working together more closely with security companies like AVG.

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