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How to block competitors clicking on your AdWords ads?

Discussion in 'Google AdWords' started by Jeffr2014, Mar 1, 2016.

  1. #1
    I noticed that every time I run a certain set of keywords on AdWords it works great for the first month and then my costs suddenly go up and conversions decline significantly. My friend suggested that my competitors notice these ads and start clicking on them to exhaust my daily budget. To test this theory I started collecting user IPs through Google Analytics and introduced a custom report (by IP) for paid ads (i.e. AdWords). It looks like my friend was right, see attached image for the top of this report (sorted by # of sessions per IP) for the past 3 days.
    [​IMG]
    Apparently, users 1, 2, 4, and 5 just clicked through a multiple number of times. So here is my question to experts, is there anything I can do here? Talking to account strategists is pointless (these guys are dumb), blocking specific IPs using iptables is pointless too as Google will still count these clicks regardless whether they reached the site or not... Is there any way to block IPs using AdWords interface? In other words, is it possible to instruct Google not to display my ads to specific IPs. If not, are there any creative solutions for this problem?
    SEMrush
     
    Jeffr2014, Mar 1, 2016 IP
    SEMrush
  2. ATLjunkcars

    ATLjunkcars Peon

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    #2
    I thought adwords automatically refunds you if people click away at your ad for no reason. At least thats what they tell advertisers. Are you sure your talking to the right department?
     
    ATLjunkcars, Mar 1, 2016 IP
  3. Jeffr2014

    Jeffr2014 Active Member

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    #3
    No, not really :) Why would they refund you for something that is not their error but rather missing functionality (i.e. inability for advertiser to block certain IP or specify that a user should see your ad only once)? Besides, Google is there to make money on you, in 7 years that I am using AdWords, only once I got a small refund when there was really apparent software bug in their algorithms. Even when I had CTR 200% (i.e. 2 clicks per one impression), I was told that this is a legitimate functionality as user clicked "Back" and then clicked on the ad again, so Google cannot do anything here (except for charging me twice) :(
     
    Jeffr2014, Mar 2, 2016 IP
  4. Lucid Web Marketing

    Lucid Web Marketing Active Member

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    #4
    Actually they do but I'm not going to argue that point with you as you're set in your mind.

    Now, what we need here is someone more knowledgeable with Analytics and Internet IPs then I am. Your interpretation may be flawed. First, I question why the first two IPs stayed for just seconds. Could they not be robots? If they were, they couldn't possibly be from Adwords and if so, you have set something wrong.

    It's been a while and memory may be failing but is it not possible to have many people share the same IP? If that were the case, then this will seriously screw your analysis. I'd find out more about those IPs.

    I seriously doubt there's a vast army of competitors out there spending resources to click on their competitors' ads. Not saying it doesn't happen. I've actually seen jobs to do this or to create software to do it. I just think it's stupid and Google is way ahead to prevent this. Plus, you'd know with unusually high impressions and clicks and also higher CTRs.

    There was only one time I saw unusual activity. It was about ten years ago and my client selling clothes had one brand called Charlie Rocket. Unknown to me was someone famous by that name who died. Result: a hundred fold increase in impressions, a few more clicks (rate was less as ad was not relevant). A temporary thing but lesson learned.

    My question to you is, do you see an increase in click rate? How about impressions? Is it because you changed something such as keywords or ads? If not, then you may have something.

    You say costs went up and conversion rates went down. Same questions. Any change you make along the way can impact results.
     
    Lucid Web Marketing, Mar 2, 2016 IP
  5. Jeffr2014

    Jeffr2014 Active Member

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    #5
    These sessions represent only about 10% on my typical traffic, but yes I can see a bit of CTR bump in one particular AdGroup and, after changing this custom report to show keyword details, I can see that these "repeat offenders" hit keywords that belong to this AdGroup. I didn't do any changes to my campaigns in the past month, so I cannot attribute these to such changes.
    To check your idea that these my be AdWords bots, I counted all clicks for these 3 days and yes, I am being charged for these multiple clicks, so it cannot be AdWords bots. Besides, after checking these IPs, I can see that these are target local area IPs.
    I did a bit of search online and true, apparently there are AdWords clicker bots and there is even a service from some Russian guy who runs worldwide network of bots that click on your competitors ads. Though, I doubt my competitors will be so sophisticated to use these services, more likely these are just manual rogue clicks.
     
    Jeffr2014, Mar 2, 2016 IP
  6. Lucid Web Marketing

    Lucid Web Marketing Active Member

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    #6
    A "bit of a bump" means nothing and is normal ebb and flow. What I'm talking about is if there's a very large increase. In math terms, something like 2 standard deviations and more from the norm. Take a look at weekly impressions. Are they well above normal in the time you say all this started? If not, you can't pin it down to others doing searches and clicking your ads, the data wouldn't support that.

    Google does the same thing. If there is unusual search activity, they know and can do something about it. Most click fraud is caught before you are even aware of it. You can be sure they know about this Russian guy.

    I deal with clients all the time with issues like this. They say they are spending more for example and I say yes, a recent change has increased click rate. More clicks, more spent, but more sales too. Or they think competitors are clicking their ads all day. I look into it but I've never found evidence in the data. As I said, only time was as explained earlier and that wasn't click fraud. If there was indeed click fraud, Google caught it or reimbursed. In fact, they are overly cautious and reimbursed on clicks that I did not consider fraud, those that actually converted.
     
    Lucid Web Marketing, Mar 2, 2016 IP
  7. Jeffr2014

    Jeffr2014 Active Member

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    #7
    Ok, Google AdWords new interface allows you to block rogue IPs: you can go to ad campaign, go to settings, select "all settings", scroll to the bottom and there is "IP exclusions" option. You can add all rogue IPs (e.g. of your local competitors) to the list and they will not see your ad, so they will not be able to exhaust your ad budget.
     
    Jeffr2014, Jun 8, 2016 IP
  8. David Tanner

    David Tanner Peon

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    #8
    Oh dear this sounds familiar...
    While Google does have a system in place that allows you to block IP's manually and another one that is supposed to tag fraudulent clicks as invalid activity, I for one have been feeling cheated as of late :/
    I run a small locksmithing business and a new competitor opened up shop in my town some months ago. I advertise with Adwords and since that competitor arrived in town, my budget has been wasting away in hours... I had no idea that locksmithing was such so infamous for being so click fraud heavy (which I unfortunately figured out later...).
    I did analyze the IP's that came onto my ads through Google Analytics, but by the time I've managed to draw the report and enter the IP's to the exclusion list, my budget had been exhausted for the day.
    This has been going on for some weeks now until I got sick of it and decided to look for a third party software that might help me.
    I stumbled upon a few services but they all have a very messy UI...
    In the end I found clickcease and they actually managed to reduce the click fraud rate on my ads substantially! My ROI increased and my competitor could not click on my ads anymore :)
     
    David Tanner, Sep 17, 2016 IP