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Is Google Doing Enough To Stop Invalid Clicks?

Is Google Doing Enough To Stop Invalid Clicks?

The most common objection we hear about invalid traffic protection is that Google is already taking care of it. We also hear the phrase "I don't have an invalid click issue" a lot - but there's a quick and easy way to see if that's the case.

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Today we focus on what Google actually does in the face of invalid clicks and whether it's enough. With 11% of search ad clicks and 36% of display clicks voiding, and the online advertising world exploding due to COVID-19, it's more important than ever for advertisers to protect themselves from invalid clicks.

After all, there's no point in shaping your PPC campaigns based on the behavior of traffic that has no real relevance to your business.

Stopping invalid traffic sources is notoriously difficult. As soon as you stop one, the other three appear - this is the monster with endless heads.

All of these come from a wide variety of origins, not just from bots and click farms, but users clicking on the first result they see. Therefore, the best way to protect your business is to ensure that preventative measures are in place to have your back.

As the largest online advertising network, Google is obligated to take care of its customers about invalid clicks. You can assume that with their technology, expertise, and billions in the bank, they've created a solution that protects ad networks and advertisers from malicious intent.

Not really.

What Is Google Doing To Fight Invalid Clicks?

fight invalid clicks

Google claims to take invalid traffic very seriously. They have a number of solutions to combat click fraud, such as automatic filters, real-time filters, and their own Ad Traffic Quality Team that manually analyzes and reviews invalid clicks.

They'll even recredit your account if they detect invalid clicks on your ads. Plus, ad fraud also violates their terms and conditions – something we're sure scammers get off their feet.

Looks like they've shut down all their bases, right?

There are several holes in Google's plan of attack. First, they only offer a one-size-fits-all solution that, despite all the hope in the world, won't work for a wide variety of businesses advertising on their huge networks.

Like the AdSense verification process, it's easy to fool advertisers' methods that span 11 million websites where they can run ads - all you need is to make a website semi-legal and it will pass the review. In fact, it is estimated that 90% of AdSense sites are fake.

Similarly, this ongoing issue isn't going to go away anytime soon, as Google Play Protect systems scan apps for malware and successfully stopped 1.9 billion malicious downloads in 2019 alone. This is more often a case of blocking an attack while ten attacks are spawning. As the volume of invalid traffic grows exponentially, so should Google's ways to combat it.

Unfortunately, much of what Google does seems more reactive than proactive. For example (if you examine your data and find exactly what they need) they will only reimburse you every 60 days and you will have to do all the legwork.

Systems designed to prevent invalid traffic are not foolproof (otherwise companies like PPC Protect wouldn't exist), but worse still, they don't actually block that invalid traffic. This means that botnet steals, click farms, competitors and everything else are retargeting you and the clicks still get into your CRM and mess up your data.

So not only your campaigns are at risk, but your future decisions as well, and it can cost you much more than just the ad spend.

we may not answer

Why Is It Not In Google's Interest To Fight Click Fraud?

The main reason Google isn't leading the fight in the invalid traffic war is simple: it's not in their interest. Of the 135,301 employees, roughly only 100 make up the click fraud team. As an advertiser, Google makes money whether clicks are legitimate or not, so its focus is on other areas such as systematically eliminating competition.

Google's antitrust court battles have made the headlines for years. But these are not the only cases highlighting the lack of transparency. There are numerous lawsuits filed against the tech giant from smaller companies that show exactly who is suffering at the hands of the scammers.

The Michael Anthony Bradley trial began in 2004 when Bradley broke into Google's headquarters and demanded $150,000; this was in exchange for software he had created that could cost Google millions in false clicks.

Google took the matter to court, but months later the case was quietly dismissed and everyone abruptly refused to comment. So what change

what? What drove Google away from an open lawsuit that would send a big middle finger to ad fraud earners around the world?

Well, despite what he says in public, Google is notorious for being tight-lipped. As the largest search engine, they keep their secrets close to their chests to continue their reign. Suing Bradley required them to cover up their invalid traffic practices and provide insights into fraudulent data. Ultimately, to prove click fraud, the prosecution must provide examples of why clicks generated by Bradley's software are considered fraudulent.

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Nor could they be charged with blackmail without revealing that they had been extorted; Google has always downplayed the number of invalid clicks compared to industry statistics, but does not reveal its own exact numbers. Being specific in court would reveal the true extent of the matter - something we already knew was true.

Letting Bradley go unpunished allowed Google to keep its secrets; The question that interests us is what they consider valuable enough to save someone from 20 years in prison?

Google: A Closed Book

As the impact of big technology grows, more questions arise about its purposes and transparency. After all, we are the real products of advertisers; The data they collect about our behavior is what makes them millions. Advertising has always been Google's priority as it generated $146.9 billion of its $181.69 billion profit in 2020, and so it makes sense that their commitment will always stay with what makes profits - clicks.

Google's lack of transparency is a hot topic; It's typical for PPC executives to wake up and find something changed overnight, which significantly impacts their return on investment. There's a reason the PPC industry is overflowing with news: everyone is trying to stay one step ahead of the game and anticipate what Google might change next.

One thing to keep in mind when relying on a large company like Google for the majority of your business is how different their goals are from yours.

Being transparent about her goals is imperative as she grows up, otherwise Orwell's 1984 seems less and less fictional. Big tech needs to be kept on a tight moral leash, and Google hiding invalid traffic data isn't helping matters.

Many Davids vs. Goliath

Google's antitrust wars show the minefield imposing sanctions on a world-dominated company. But this is important because for businesses that rely on the search engine to connect with their audience, their apps make or break the success of those businesses.

But if Google doesn't act in the best interests of an SMB, what can these Davids really do about it? This is why big technology responsibility is such a hot topic in this digital world.

While there are cases of small businesses taking the tech giant to court, it's not something many people can afford to do. This is exacerbated by the fact that Google has in the past been difficult to withdraw money without a court order, so businesses going it alone have a steep hill to climb.

However, that doesn't mean many SMBs don't notice inconsistencies in Google Ads. One man discovered that 48% of his clicks were invalid - but only through his own experiments. In addition, small businesses in Australia took legal action earlier this year, alleging that fake clicks cost Australian businesses $756 million a year.

Another example involves a gentleman investigating Google's practices for invalid traffic after repeatedly contacting the Google Team to express concerns about the validity of his client's clicks. Google responded by stating that they are confident that there was no fraudulent activity on the account; in fact, they went so far as to say they "done a great job" at catching suspicious activity, and the low-quality clicks were likely due to incorrect account structure. As a final display of helpfulness, the "person" {include suggestions} leaves the template and offers no further advice. Shiny.

You mentioned that you have some concerns about potentially invalid activity on your account. Your concerns here are understandable, and if I were a business owner in your situation, I would likewise like to verify that the clicks I paid for were legitimate. This is so natural.

At the same time, I want to assure you that this is something Google takes very seriously. To that end, we have a three-step system for detecting invalid activity.

First, we automatically filter out traffic deemed suspicious based on an unusual pattern of user behavior.

Second, we back accounts for clicks we consider invalid in a secondary traffic scan. 

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We credit it retroactively.

Third, we can conduct full-scale, in-depth investigations on accounts where advertisers are still concerned about invalid clicks. I was able to request this on your behalf, and I see our trained experts were unable to find additional instances of invalid activity after doing such research.

While I'm happy to initiate the investigation for you, to be transparent, in my experience invalid click investigations usually do not reveal additional invalid activity. This is actually a good thing. That means we've done a great job of catching this activity before it reaches the third layer of protection.

While your Google Ads activity may not generate invalid clicks, the clicks you receive may be of poor quality and you may not be able to reach your intended audience due to your account setup or structure. In fact, I have a few tips to help you improve your performance so that the clicks you get are from the best possible user group. {add suggestions}

Thanks for your understanding and cooperation. – Google Ads Support Team

Why Should You Care About Your Traffic Quality?

click fraud industry breakdown

There are numerous statistics on how much invalid traffic is costing advertisers globally. This makes it difficult to envision exactly what it means for your business. $66 billion sounds great, but what does it equal for individuals?

It's even easier to sit back and believe that Google has it; thinking that if your campaigns are profitable, you can't be targeted, and even if you are, it's almost undetected.

All the companies we worked with were thinking about it, too, until we started monitoring their accounts. Dale Powell of Atomic Marketing spoke about his experience with Google:

“For one client, Google was saying we were getting between £50 and £100 per month illegitimate clicks. We actually found it to be over £500 a month, which has been the case for three months.”

This is a thought echoed by many, including Lauren Kelley of the Digital Media Team:

"Until we started using 3rd party software, we thought Google did a good job of protecting our ads from invalid clicks. After getting a second opinion on our traffic quality, it was clear we were getting more illegitimate clicks than we first thought."

The surprise to discover that Google doesn't cover this for advertisers is something we hear every day. And this is the biggest crime currently committed in the advertising space: how ad fraud has been normalized. A certain percentage of their PPC budget is expected by savvy marketers to be consumed by invalid traffic - which is false.

A leading ad fraud researcher, Dr. Augustine Fou recently talked about how no one sees it now that ad fraud has become so normalized. The combination of the general lack of ad protection and the fact that "the various parties in the supply chain don't want to take a closer look" have led advertisers to believe that all clicks they receive are legitimate. "They're so used to seeing large amounts of impressions and clicks that it seems normal to them," says Fou.

The truth is, conversion rates should be higher in all industries. Most businesses suffer from some level of invalid traffic and it's something you need to constantly check as the quality of traffic can change overnight.

There's a huge group of unoriginal click sources out there; not just targeted attacks, but people who click the first thing they see, do research, people with zero intention to buy. This traffic affects every company, no matter their size, so we're putting an end to it.

Custom Software to Get Quality Clicks

traffic quality increase

PPC Protect's machine learning software is designed to quickly and quickly address the ever-changing issue of invalid traffic.

We don't use scripts, complex setup processes or needed technologies; We just give you a tracking code and you are protected. Better still, we even block invalid traffic from seeing your ads, so click farms, bots, users with no intent to buy will never find you. So instead of having to wait for Google to issue you a partial refund, PPC Protect means you'll never break out of your budget in the first place.

Plus, you optimize your campaigns based on clean traffic - it's easy to make wrong decisions if invalid clicks are affecting your data.

With each new client, we start with a free Traffic Audit to get a full idea of ​​what's going on with your Google Ads traffic. Our system classifies your clicks as valid, suspicious and invalid, giving you complete transparency about what's going on in your personalized dashboard.

From there, if your ad traffic needs to be tightened, from then on.

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