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How Google AdWords Defends Against Click Fraud

google adwords click fraud
13 May 2016

When companies run a PPC campaign on AdWords, fraud is always a concern. From other people aiming to sabotage their competition by driving up costs and capping out budgets to shady Clickjacking attacks to deceive users, Google AdWords is not always foolproof—but it tries to be.

Google’s Three-Step Approach

The most common type of click fraud is when either competitors or ad publishers falsely inflate how many clicks they are receiving. Companies will do it to hurt their competitors and ad publishers will do it to increase their own revenue. When it comes to this form of click fraud, Google AdWords employs a three-step system to fight it:

  • Automated Filters – The first line of defense against click fraud is Google’s proprietary algorithm, which is able to detect and eliminate invalid clicks before the advertiser realizes they happened.
  • Manual Analysis – Since the algorithm cannot catch all PPC campaign fraud, Google AdWords also employs an Ad Traffic Quality Team who performs manual analysis of the clicks before the advertisers are charged.
  • Investigations – If companies complain directly to Google AdWords that they suspect click fraud, Google will initiate an investigation and any invalid clicks will be credited back to the advertiser.

How AdWords Combats Clickjacking

While Google actively works to fight against common types of click fraud, sometimes a new threat appears that it needs to deal with. One of the most recent is known as Clickjacking. Essentially, Clickjacking tricks website visitors by using invisible ads to hijack computers or reveal sensitive information. For example, someone may think they are clicking play on a video, but layered above the video was an invisible ad, which then leads the user to a different page.

When Google realized Clickjacking was a threat, it immediately took action to stop it. It quickly created an algorithm to identify and filter out Clickjacking and terminated any accounts associated with it. Any traffic that was a result of Clickjacking is not charged to the unsuspecting advertiser.

How Companies Can Protect Themselves

While Google AdWords does an excellent job defending against click fraud, there are a few things companies can do within their own PPC campaigns to help themselves:

  • IP Exclusions – If companies are able to identify which IP addresses are completing the fraudulent clicks, they can be blocked, making sure the ad doesn’t show to that IP address again.
  • Remarketing – If publisher fraud is the concern, remarketing can stop it. The ads will only be shown to people who have expressed interest in the advertiser’s product/service, so the publisher won’t even see them.
  • Ad Targeting – Sometimes, preventing click fraud is as simple as excluding a specific geographic location, language, or zip code from seeing the ads. Of course, this needs to be done with caution so that good traffic is not being skipped over, but if the fraud source is known, this is an easy fix.

A PPC campaign is a very effective way to increase website traffic and revenue. As long as advertisers are diligent with monitoring their accounts for fraud, the money spent offers an incredible return.

For help setting up or monitoring your PPC campaign, contact Zero Gravity Marketing today.