Shadow Traffic

Shadow traffic is real traffic from real people, but you won’t have any visibility into them or their behavior because this data is not captured by your typical analytics software provider.

Last updated in October 2020


What is shadow traffic?

Shadow traffic is visits to your site that are not captured by your typical analytics software provider. Analytics providers fail to track users and behavior for multiple reasons, including being stopped by the browser or an adblocker. This is shadow traffic—real traffic that your analytics misses.


Why is shadow traffic important?

Parse.ly's reserach found that at least 20% and up to 40% of all internet traffic was shadow traffic, compared to traditional web analytics tracking.

Missing 20% to 40% of your visitor data leads to misguided decisions, revenue loss, and bad business outcomes. The first step to improving your data quality is addressing shadow traffic, while still fully respecting the valid privacy, user experience, and performance concerns of your audience.


How does shadow traffic work?

Shadow traffic is caused by adblockers, browser privacy features, and other tools which stop events from reading your analytics provider. The largest causes of shadow traffic on both web and mobile are adblockers and new privacy features built into browsers.


Shadow traffic and Parse.ly

Parse.ly coined the term shadow traffic in 2020. As browsers invested in a privacy focus and users adopted more adblockers. Parse.ly can track, measure, and segment your shadow traffic easily, something no other marketing tool can do.


Learn More

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Shadow Traffic: Why your traffic numbers are off by 20%


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