Whitepaper: The Role of Invalid Clicks in PPC

Download now the report whitepaper:

  • The value of Advertising
  • Fraudulent clicks and Click Fraud
  • Types of Click Fraud
  • Estimating and addressing the threat
  • The role of search engines
  • Combating Click Fraud
  • The ClickPatrol Tool

What are invalid clicks?

Invalid clicks are ad clicks that do not originate from authentic user interest. They are under fraudulent or illegitimate clicks. That can arise from deliberate fraudulent actions or unintentional and recurrent clicks triggered by malicious software or automated systems.

According to Google, invalid clicks are clicks on ads that aren’t a result of genuine user interest, including intentionally fraudulent traffic and accidental or duplicate clicks.

Some of the invalid clicks we identify on our platform include clicks originating from:

  • ✔ Digital Ocean
  • ✔ AWS Amazon.com
  • ✔ Leaseweb
  • ✔ SVH Hosting
  • ✔ GoDaddy
  • ✔ Serverius
  • ✔ Transip

These clicks do not convert and consume your ad spend. By effectively blocking these clicks you save several dollars in ad spend.

Types of Invalid Clicks

There are a wide variety of clicks considered to be invalid. Some are generated manually or using automated systems such as botnets.

  • Bots

People use botnets to generate thousands of clicks on an ad. Bot-driven clicks work in the following ways:

  • Fraudsters use click bots to generate fake clicks on their ads to generate income.
  • Click bots are created to imitate real users and are often distributed across devices in a botnet—a botnet is a group of devices that have been compromised. This way, when they click on an ad, they appear like a real user since the clicks come from different IPs.
  • Manual clicks by webmasters and fraudulent networks

Website owners with targeted content use the Google Display Network to push their ads on third-party websites. Web administrators own these websites, join Google Adsense, and earn about 68% of the total amount generated by ad clicks. Google put in place strict policy requirements, and if they are violated, they will be banned from Google Ads.

  • Manual clicks by competitors

Unfortunately, competitors who intend to run out of your revenue use this type of clicks. They are usually competitors with the same niche and keywords as you who resort to non-human clicks to inflate your ad costs. Website owners who have keywords with more bidders are likely to have more intense competition.

  • Proxy and VPN traffic

Traffic from proxy and VPN users is not likely to convert. Proxy and VPN are mostly used by individuals who want to hide their identities to carry out fraudulent online activities. Blocking this type of traffic beforehand saves a significant amount on your ad account.

  • Scrapers

Scrapers are designed to extract data from websites and ad campaigns. They automate the process of gathering and analyzing information efficiently. Scrapers are often used by competitors to click on your ads and steal your company strategy.

How do invalid clicks affect your ads?

If you have ever wondered if invalid clicks affect the industry you belong to, then the answer is yes, it does. If your industry is competitive in Google Ads and pay-per-click searches, then the likelihood of experiencing invalid clicks/non-human traffic is higher.

You may ask, How much would invalid clicks cost you? There are several factors to consider to be sure how much it costs you, but on average, it could cost you 10-12% of your ad budget. For instance, if your monthly ad budget is $10,000, you could be wasting up to $1500 on invalid clicks each month.

Google and other search engines have created structures to help defend its ad system against invalid activity. However, it is not doing enough to curb the effect of invalid clicks, thereby putting a lot of responsibility on advertisers/publishers to monitor and prevent non-human activity from invading their ads.

Is Google Ads click protection necessary?

Although invalid clicks do not fall under traditional ‘business cost’, you must take it very seriously. Google is undoubtedly the dominant digital marketplace in this century, but that doesn’t excuse the presence of non-human activity and invalid clicks on your webpage.

Effects of invalid clicks and non-human activity on your campaigns

Here are some of the effects of invalid clicks on your PPC campaigns

  • Unnecessary charges: the most detrimental effect of invalid clicks is the excessive charges that come with it. If curbed quickly, it could save your campaigns’ budgets.
  • Flawed business insights: when your Google campaign is infested by invalid clicks, it lacks proper business insight. The data you are presented with is counterfeit, affecting any data-driven decision you want to make. This fake data usually harms your campaign metrics, as it will steer your plan in the wrong direction.
  • Exhausting future ad budgets: it is no news that invalid clicks will run out of your current campaign budget, but apart from that, the data you receive is manipulated, influencing your future marketing strategy. As a result of this distorted data, your future campaign budget could be better spent.
  • Reaching the daily limit of a campaign: many people and companies place a daily limit on their pay-per-click ads. When there are a lot of invalid clicks on your ads, you reach their daily limit quickly without any benefits to your business. Your ad is removed once your limit is exceeded and your competitors’ ads surface in place of yours.

The truth is, without a solid solution to invalid clicks, the non-human activities on your campaigns will cause so much damage to your business and have long-term damage to your company’s ROI and overall growth.

How to prevent Invalid clicks and non-human traffic

After identifying the invalid clicks, there are various ways to prevent them from invading your website. However, you must find out the method that best suits you and your website. Look through the methods below to stop non-human activities on your page;

IP exclusion in Google Ads

If you are getting clicks from a particular IP address but they aren’t taking any action on your page, it is likely a case of non-human activity and should also be excluded. If you have identified the IP addresses responsible for invalid clicks, you can exclude those IPAs from your Google ad. To exclude invalid IPs;

  • Go to settings
  • Select exclusion
  • Click additional settings.
  • Select edit and manually input the IPA you want to exclude
  • Click save

The good thing is that IP address exclusion can be done in all the Google Ads campaigns, which means you can block all invalid IPs and potentially non-human IPs across all your movements.

Observe Timestamps

Keep a close eye on the active timestamps of a user, starting from their visit to your webpage until they take any action. This is essential to protecting your Google ad because users with malicious intent will only click on your ad without taking any follow-up action. When you notice this, it is best to block that user to protect your website.

Use Google Analytics

Many people use Google Analytics to prevent non-human activity. Beyond tracking your webpage’s performance and keywords, Google Analytics highlights repetitive clicks from suspicious IPs. Your Google Ads reports can ensure you are not paying for any unknown non-human activity. To do this,

  • Go to tools
  • Select setup
  • Click on billing and payments
  • Select view transaction and document
  • Click on invalid activity. You will find all invalid links here.

Go for the Google display network remarketing campaign

Display network remarketing allows users to see only the ads they are interested in. This way, advertisers can easily avoid invalid clicks since fraudsters cannot see the ads.

Use specific pay-per-click keywords

Use specific keywords only. Limit your ad by targeting a specific industry instead of multiple niches. Having a clear audience helps produce genuine traffic, which leads to an increased conversion rate.

Check user’s behaviour regularly

Spend time on your PPC ads daily to identify keywords and advertisements that generate the most conversions on your website. Studying users’ behavior on search engines will help you know what drives users towards your brand and service. However, if you notice similar non-human activities, stop your campaigns from showing on their screens immediately.

Ad targeting

You need to block that location when you notice high invalid activity in a particular geographical zone (mainly if your business doesn’t operate there). Usually, these zones use click farms to carry out these clicks. Click farms are places where real people are put in a specific location to click on ads continually. This is done in countries with cheap labor like China, the Philippines, etc. Exclude the zone from the ‘location’ section to dodge such clicks. You can also exclude the respective languages. This prevention process, called ad targeting, ensures that traffic that brings high conversions is not blocked.

Set a budget

Set a maximum budget for your daily online marketing. This way, when running an ad, you can control invalid clicks and monitor your expenditures.

Invalid click detection software

This method was the most effective way to protect your website from Invalid clicks.. This software identifies users who intend to use invalid clicks on your site and monitors your ads and traffic. A good click detection software will block click non-humans from clicking your ads in real time. This software is the most advanced way to handle invalid clicks and it saves you time.

Can I prevent invalid clicks myself?

Yes, You can try. But be prepared for quite a tedious, time-consuming, Sisyphean task of monitoring every click and steadily adding IP addresses to your filtering. Not only is this method extremely intensive, but it is just the type of work better suited to a software algorithm.

Beyond the proficiency factor of ClickPatrol, we also have a growing global blacklist of suspicious accounts and IPA to protect you and your campaign

How does click protection software work?

A standard invalid click protection software such as ClickPatrol should be able to use:

  • An efficient algorithm to analyze active data points and determine if they are legitimate or illegitimate activities.
  • Determine if an IP address is invalid or not, immediately block those that are not, and stop them from clicking on your ad from now on.

With some of these features and more, you can get a cleaner ad campaign, less waste, and a better ROI.

Why you need superior non-human click detection software

Invalid click detection software is designed specially to help investigate, monitor, and block non-human activities on your web page. It will have a framework that:

  • Investigates: helps to develop a full and clear picture of the risk liable to individual users. That can be done either manually (during manual reviews) or automatically. Further investigation is done based on the data available during monitoring.
  • Monitors: give an extensive data analysis on users while using your website. An example of the data provided is the specific IP address or even the type of phone they use.
  • Block: after monitoring and investigation, the software automatically blocks or allows users as necessary based on the set risk rules. Depending on the risk, you can determine the likelihood of an invalid click.

Click detection software features

No matter the digital space you find yourself in, getting the best click detection software includes considering some features that may or may not be important to address your problem. For it to be determined as a risk management software, it has to cover several important bases, such as identity verification and chargeback prevention. Below are examples of the important features:

  • Risk rules: this is an important feature for any click detection software. The risk rules help to filter actions carried out by users based on the found data. An example of a risk rule is; if a VPN owns an IP, block the attempt on the login.
  • Risk scoring: this allows or rejects the actions of users. The software program gives the score of how risky a click is. For instance, if you have a customer interaction from a different country from their payment details, their risk score is increased by 5 points.
  • Real-time monitoring: A good click detection software must be able to monitor the payment that goes on your website in real-time to immediately block any suspicious activities before they cost you so much.
  • Machine learning engine: an excellent detection software should have an ML algorithm that will help with risk rule suggestions based on data. In some cases, if it is a white box system, it also allows you to find reasons behind the risk rules.

The ClickPatrol software

The ClickPatrol software is a click detection software that screens every single click on your PPC campaign. Our Algorithm screens clicks based on a set of well-defined set of criteria.

This criteria is made up of 800 IP and fingerprint characteristics that are checked for every click. These characteristics are based on the peculiarity of your campaign.

They include location, type of device, device software, number of times they have visited your campaign, etc.

These characteristics have a standard for genuine valid clicks. Invalid clicks have one or more deviations from the standard (red flags).

A value is assigned for each deviation, a maximum value after which a click is flagged, and a threshold value, after which a click is blocked. For example, if a campaign that is running in the US and a desktop only, gets a click from a mobile device in India, the click is flagged and may be blocked, depending on how much of a variation it displays.

Our software Algorithm uses traffic data collected over several years from multiple sources to determine what characteristics need to be checked and how much deviation should be recorded as non-human.

Clicks are only blocked if we are confident they are Unwanted. Blocked clicks are determined based on the history of an IP, as well as its fingerprint.

Why should you choose the ClickPatrol tool?

  • Users have complete control.

Our clients can fully customize the API and maximize their experience. You can choose to only monitor your campaigns and not make updates to Google; you can also decide how aggressively you want to track and block non-human traffic or unwanted clicks.

Users can also manually review blocked IPs, whitelist, and blacklist where necessary.

  • Supports all Google Campaigns

Our tool supports all forms of Google Ads campaigns including;

✔ Google Pmax,

✔ Google Search ads,

✔ Google Display ads,

✔ Apps (We exclude traffic on account level),

✔ Google Shopping Advertising,

✔ Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Users can also exclude certain on campaigns on their ad accounts from being monitored.

  • Monitor Traffic Quality With In-depth Reporting and Insights.

Our reports tell you exactly what kind of traffic comes to your website. We share unique insights based on our data points unavailable via the ad network. All data can be exported, analyzed, and used to make informed marketing decisions.

Final notes…

Protecting your Google ad from invalid clicks is essential for maximizing ad campaign effectiveness. These invalid clicks can damage your ad so much that they deplete your budget and impede the accuracy of your Google Ad analysis. Deploy one or more preventive methods to protect your Google Ads from non-human traffic, especially the click detection software. This way, you can save your campaigns and improve their effectiveness.

By employing advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques, click detection software such as ClickPatrol can identify and prevent non-human impressions, clicks, and conversions, thereby safeguarding your ad investments.

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