How to prevent google ads click fraud

Running a successful Google Ads campaign is hard work.

Besides getting a campaign up and running, managing it and performing conversion optimization tests, you still have to contend with the possibility of fraudulent clicks – even if you’re doing everything by the book.

According to one recent report published in Search Engine Journal that examined roughly a billion ad clicks and 100 billion data points, 11% of search ad clicks and 36% of display ad clicks were found to be fraudulent or invalid. Separate estimates cost ad fraud approximately $13.8 billion in 2020 – just in the U.S.

The problem of how to prevent Google Ads click fraud isn’t new, but the methods for combating it are evolving as the demand for a solution grows with rising digital ad budgets.

Enter the click fraud protection software industry.

In today’s post, we’ll dig more into click fraud and what this software does to fight against it. We’ll also share how one solution we’re trialing with our Google Ads campaign, ClickCease, is working so far.

Understanding The Click Fraud Problem

We won’t dive into the depths of click fraud and its variations here (check out this blog post from ClickCease which goes through the ins and outs), but the quick definition is any paid ad click that’s not a genuine visit.

That includes:

  • Bots
  • Accidental clicks
  • Competitors
  • Disgruntled former employees taking their revenge

If you’re unsure whether click fraud affects your industry, it does. And the more competitive your industry is on Google Ads and search PPC more broadly (I’m looking at you, insurance companies and law firms), the likelier it is you’ll come face to face with click fraud.

How much is click fraud costing you? There are plenty of factors here, but commonly cited averages are between 10-20%. So, splitting the difference, if your monthly budget is $10k, that’s in the neighborhood of $1500 wasted every month.

Yes, Google does have an entire department devoted to defending its ad systems against invalid activity. But looking at the stats, it’s not doing enough and puts too much responsibility on the advertisers to monitor and prevent fraud. And if you’ve ever reported suspected fraud to Google, you know that the process takes time before you get a response or see a refund.

Of course, Google’s primary business is making money from ad clicks, not preventing click fraud. But their response’s limitations have opened a door for anti-click fraud software to fill the gap in the market.

How Click Fraud Protection Software Works

There are several click fraud prevention tools on the market, and each takes a slightly different approach. But the CliffsNotes version is that the software uses algorithms to analyze various data points and determine if the visit is legitimate or fraudulent.

Once it determines an IP address (or social media account) to be fraudulent or fake, it automatically blocks the IP addresses and accounts from seeing or being able to click on your ads moving forward.

The result: cleaner PPC traffic, less waste and better ROI.

It should be said, no tool that I’ve seen is claiming to eliminate ALL click fraud. For example, it’s easy to imagine how a competitor might regularly click on your ads from different IP addresses in a way that mimics the behavior of a legitimate lead. Those visits would likely evade the algorithms these tools rely on to filter traffic. 

But Can’t I Do This Myself?

You can try. But be prepared for a tedious, time-consuming, Sisyphean task of monitoring every click and reactively adding IP addresses to your filtering. Not only is this extremely resource intensive, but it’s also the type of work better suited to an algorithm.

Beyond the efficiency factor, most of these tools also have a growing global blacklist of suspicious IP addresses and accounts. These are associated with botnets, click farms or other types of threats that these tools block before a click can occur.

ClickCease Initial Results 

Last month, Simple Machines began trialing ClickCease, a click fraud protection solution we chose after researching options on the market.

Since turning it on, ClickCease has been reporting 23% cleaner traffic and has saved us an estimated $231 in just a few weeks.

The dashboard screenshot below shows how many clicks, visitors and blocked IP’s we’ve seen by day, along with clicks saved and estimated wasted budget we’ve avoided.

ClickCease Google Ads Fraud Prevention

Looking at Google Analytics traffic for the same date range compared to the previous period, traffic from Google Ads saw:

  • 82% increased conversion rate
  • 16% reduced bounce rate
  • 27% increase in pages per session

Note that this is a very small, not statistically significant sample size, and I’m not suggesting that everyone can bank on 80%+ jumps in CVR by using this software.

With this caveat out of the way, as far as initial returns go, the impact ClickCease is having already is very promising, and we’ve moved forward with the paid subscription.

Beyond the metrics, I also like that ClickCease offers a free trial, is quick and painless to set up, is reasonably priced and has a nice dashboard to view results and pull reports.

Is Click Fraud Prevention Software Right For Your Business?

If you’re spending a significant budget on PPC, I recommend trying this software (or shop around if you want to compare options). Take advantage of free trials, see what it filters out, do some quick math – and if the savings outpace the expense, it’s probably an easy win.

If you’re interested in learning more about ClickCease, get in touch. We’ll be happy to share more about our experience and agency pricing we can offer to our clients.