Knowledge Base         


How can I have multiple uniques from the same IP?


Proper click tracking relies on cookies, so if the web clients or browsers making requests to your links or rotators interfere with the cookies needed for accurate tracking, they can generate multiple “unique” clicks.

The average lifespan of a cookie is estimated to be only about 6 weeks, so even normal “aging” will eventually cause just about any user to generate a second unique click if they click your link again a few months later.

But you’re probably wondering about repeat “unique” clicks from the same IP in a short period of time, right?

In this case there are really only a few explanations:

 
1.    The web client or browser doesn’t accept cookies.
 
2.    It’s a “bot.” Many bots don’t accept cookies.
 
3.    It’s a real user on a low-end mobile device.


That’s really all there is to it. If someone doesn’t want to be tracked online, or someone wants to generate fake clicks to your links, both are very easy to do.

This can even be a problem with “normal” users on some mobile devices, because to make a long story short, cookies just don’t work as reliably on low-end mobile devices with non-standard browser clients as they do on other devices.

In fact, we’ve noticed that of all the people who submit a help desk ticket about this subject, most get an above-average percentage of mobile traffic.

If you do a Google search for something like “mobile cookie tracking” you’ll find all sorts of articles and discussion about this, and how it’s a problem no matter what type of tracking system you’re using.

We’re currently experimenting with various forms of “device fingerprinting”, which is the future of tracking both on the web and for mobile, but it’s still too early and we have no ETA on how or when we’ll implement this.


Can’t we just track users by IP address?

No, there are lots of reasons you can’t just look at the IP address to determine if a click is unique or not.

For one thing it’s very easy to fake, or hide, or change the IP address that requests come from.

These days, with the help of Google, just about anyone can learn how to set up a fake click bot “in the cloud” that can generate unlimited clicks from 1,000s of different IP addresses relatively easily if they wanted to.

Other reasons aren’t as sinister. Take Google’s fiber and WiFi Internet service that they currently provide in 10 major markets here in the US …

They have millions and millions of users all surfing the web behind Google’s proxies and sharing probably no more than 10,000 IP addresses.

Most mobile providers also provide Internet access to users via proxies, which means that a user’s IP address can change 4 times in less than 2 minutes.

Here’s part of a click log from a tracker that DOES track users only by IP address, and which logged 4 “unique” clicks from the same mobile user in just a few minutes – simply because they are behind a proxy and their IP address changed in between requests …





Anyway, the point is that you can’t just look at the IP address to determine if a click is unique or not.

Yes there are problems with cookies, but a combination of cookies and other methods are the best we have to work with and just about every major analytics and tracking platform uses cookies extensively for tracking.

We’re currently experimenting with various forms of “device fingerprinting”, which is the future of tracking both for desktops and on mobile, but it’s still too early and we have no ETA on how or when we’ll implement this.

Article 87 Last updated: 11/20/2019 10:21:59 AM
https://www.clickmagick.com/kb/?article=87