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Preventing Google Ads click fraud
Adwords
Jan 28, 2021

Preventing Google Ads click fraud

PPC Protect found that a massive 36% of Display campaign clicks were fraudulent or invalid in 2020. Let's see how to prevent click fraud !
Preventing Google Ads click fraud
Robbie

A recent report into fraudulent clicks on Google Ads revealed some startling figures. PPC Protect, in their first ever annual report, found that a massive 36% of Display campaign clicks were fraudulent or invalid in 2020. Furthermore, the report stated that this figure was at 11% for Search campaigns and that only 13% of all accounts that the report looked at reported no fraudulent or invalid activity.

Most worryingly, the report concluded that these figures represented significant increases on 2019’s figures - suggesting that Google is losing the battle against fraudulent clicks. The team at PPC Protect analysed data encompassing 1 billion ad clicks when compiling these findings.

But what is click fraud and why should you care?


Google itself defines invalid clicks as “clicks on ads that Google considers to be illegitimate, such as unintentional clicks or clicks resulting from malicious software.”

Click fraud occurring in your Google Ads account could result in:

  • Budget wastage. Most campaign types on Google are cost-per-click. Fraudulent ad clicks not detected by Google Ads will still incur a cost. This will consume your budget and prevent it from being spent on genuine users.
  • Skewed click-through rate. A nefarious ad fraud bot isn't going to hum and haw about which ad to click. Fraudulent clicks often come with an 100% click-through rate, which will inflate the overall average. Keeping track of click-through rate is essential in determining how effective your ad text is at attracting potential customers.
  • Skewed conversion rate. Fraudulent clicks won’t or can’t convert in most cases. This could cause conversion rates to record which are actually lower than what’s really being achieved. Bad data can inform bad decisions, if marketers decide to prioritise campaigns with higher conversion rates. The same impact can be felt in the ‘cost per conversion’ metric.
click fraud in 2020

What are Google doing to prevent this from occurring?


Based on PPC Protect’s report: not enough! This is a little unfair, as bots are becoming ever more sophisticated at bypassing preventative measures. Google are transparent in their efforts to fight back against click fraud.

  • They suspend and disable accounts found to be perpetrating click fraud.
  • They have 180 filters dedicated to weeding out these clicks in real time.
  • They blacklist IP addresses associated with this behaviour.
  • They retrospectively assess suspicious historical data and correct the record.
  • They manually review suspected cases of click fraud raised by advertisers.
  • They proactively work to identify and blacklist clickbots that haven’t triggered yet their signals.
  • They reimburse the advertiser for all costs associated with the invalid clients that they’ve found.

As the report shows however, fraudulent clicks seem to be on the rise. So what can you do to safeguard your account from click fraud?

Below are our tips to combatting click fraud yourself.

Analyse your traffic.

If you don’t understand your traffic, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the unusual trends that could be the result of invalid clicks. Study your traffic regularly, from volume to user behaviour, to individual campaign and segment performance.

Focus on traffic quality, not quantity.

Driving traffic is easy. Driving high-quality traffic is much harder. Focus on quality, not quantity by focusing on high intent keywords, rather than broad, general keywords associated with really high traffic levels.

Don’t click your own ads.

You’re not going to convert on your own site and you’ll likely skew the click-through rate, nevermind wasting the budget. A site owner clicking on their own ad is going to behave the same as a clickbot by making no meaningful actions on the site once they’ve clicked.

Exclude irrelevant countries from your targeting.

Ensure your ads are only eligible to appear to users in your target area, or users regularly in your targeted areas. Many clickbots are located in countries like Russia and India. Ensuring your ads can’t appear here is one way to avoid fraudulent clicks.

Avail of IP exclusions.

Google Ads allows for specific IP addresses to be blacklisted by your campaigns, meaning they can’t trigger or click your ads. If your technical team can identify the IP addresses behind suspected fraudulent clicks, such as a devious competitor, then they can be blacklisted via the Google Ads interface.

Work with an agency...like us!

If you don’t have the time to do all of this on a regular basis, hire an agency to do it for you. It’s in our interest to ensure that behind every click is a real, life customer ready to convert.

Invest in an anti-click fraud programme such as PPC Protect.

Aside from these measures, special attention oughta be paid to any Display campaigns that you run. Many websites across the Google Display Network are low quality, spammy websites. Clicks on your banner image ads when they appear on these sites may not be classified as fraud, but they might as well be for all the value (0) that they bring.

Prevent your ads from appearing on certain site categories (ie sensitive website) and monitor your Placements report to block your Display ads from showing up on any low quality websites.

To conclude, Google Ads click fraud is very real. Display advertisers in particular need to explore ways to combat against it, considering more than a third of Display clicks may not be genuine. Search is not immune either and the vast majority of accounts seem to suffer invalid clicks to some degree. Fight it successfully and you’ll safeguard budget for real users and get a truer version of how your website actually performs.


You need help to prevent Google Ads click fraud or you need more informations ? Go on Donutz Digital website ! Experts in PPC, Google Ads and SEO.

Robbie.

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