Looking for accurate information on how to stop competitors clicking on your online ads? One of the ways brands are trying to outdo each other is by committing click fraud on each other’s online ads. But what is wrong with this practice? First of all paid online ads are a great way of driving traffic to your website, but there is the possibility of getting fake clicks from your competition. With that said, how will you know if your competition is clicking on your ads?
They will click on your ads with the aim of exhausting your daily ads budget. What this means is that your ads will stop showing and this will affect the number of visitors to your website from paid advertising.
However, tools such as Google AdWords have a sophisticated way of identifying fake clicks. For example, they will identify a person who clicks on an ad several times in an hour and they will be marked as invalid clicks.
With that said, it is essential that you prevent your competitors from clicking on your online ads. While this might seem like an impossible task, it is a relatively easy practice if you know what you are doing. In this article, we look at how to stop your competitors from clicking on your online ads.
What Is Click Fraud?
Several studies show that in 2017, one out of every five clicks was fraudulent and the number is expected to be higher. Click fraud is the fraudulent clicking of PPC ads in order to generate fraudulent click charges for the competition.
The primary goal of a click fraudster is to drive up advertising costs, and it also skews the analytical data which is essential in the formulation of marketing strategies. It might take a while before you identify click fraud, but when you dig a little deeper, you will notice certain IP addresses that are responsible for the fraudulent clicks.
Some of your competitors will go to the extent of hiring people to click on your ads. You can tell that it is click fraud when you start seeing an influx of clicks from high-risk countries where you also do not do business.
How to Stop Your Competitors from Clicking On Your Ads
You have to do all that you can to prevent click fraud and get the most out of your pay-per-click campaigns. According to the Methbot report by WhiteOps, Russian frauds tricked marketers to spend over $5 million a day on video ads that were not seen. Here are the steps to follow and stop competitors from clicking your online ads.
Identify the outliers
New marketers will have a hard time before they wrap their heads around the numbers that define their digital marketing campaigns. However, experienced marketers who understand the numbers will easily find abnormalities in their traffic from paid ads.
The outliers to consider include
- Abnormal spikes in website traffic
- Abnormally high CTRs for your AdWords campaigns
- High concentration of traffic to your sponsored pages only
- Low scores on engagement metrics such as high bounce rates, low time-on-site, low average session duration among others
No matter the tools you are using to track website metrics, you need to stay on track of any outliers and this helps you identify chances of click fraud.
Use Dedicated Anti-Click-Fraud Software
This software automates the process of manually monitoring and analysing the numbers to find click fraud cases. ClickCease is one of the best dedicated anti-click-fraud software there is. Here is how ClickCease works
- It automatically detects scripts, bots, manual click frauds, and malicious competitors
- It easily integrates with Google AdWords and Bing Ads accounts by using a tracking template or adding an HTML code to your landing pages
- It reports details about fraudulent and clean clicks, and this allows you to set up a robust click fraud detection rules
Among other things, ClickCease will capture video records of humans as well as the bots interacting with your ads. This way, you can set up anti-fraud rules that are based on the on-screen behaviour.
Exclude Suspicious IPs
Manual click fraud is where hourly wage workers are hired to click on ads manually. Competitors are also using bots to click ads, and you can avoid the problems caused by the bots and manual click frauds by excluding suspicious IPs.
This is how you can identify the IP addresses to avoid and exclude
- Extract the entire IP log form your website, or you can search for ‘[your web development/host] IP log’, and you will get an add-on or link to give you the list of IPs
- Extract the data to an Excel spreadsheet
- Use pivot tables to find out the number of times an IP address clicks on your ads per day
- Group the data into hourly data chunks and identify where an IP address appears multi-times in an hour
- You can check the geographical location of the suspicious IP addresses using InfoByIP.com
After compiling your list of IPs, it is now time to exclude them
- Log in to your Google AdWords account and go to the Settings tab
- Select the campaign for which you want to exclude the IPs
- Got to Advanced settings> IP Exclusions
- Click on Edit > Manage IP Exclusions
In the next window, you have the chance to add up to 500 IP addresses, and then finally click “Save.”
Limit Ad Spending to Verified Websites
For this tip, you need to create a whitelist of genuine websites where you will place your ads. You can build this white list of genuine websites using SMErush. Here is how to go about it
- If you are looking to make an ad placement in website relating to exotic supercars, and you find that grandtournation.com is the largest fan site for The Grand Tour, visit SMErush and enter grandtournation.com in the search bar
- Click on the Competitors section under the Organic Research menu, and you will get a list of the leading competitors for the website
- The list of competitors then becomes your whitelist for your ad campaign
- After finalising the creation of the whitelist process, follow these steps
- Click on Display Network> Targeting> Placement>Add multiple placements
- Toggle the ‘Target and Bid’ radio button to ensure that your ads appear on the whitelisted websites
- Finally, uncheck the ‘Let AdWords automatically find new customers.’ This prevents AdWords from automatically placing your ads in other websites other than those which you have whitelisted
Exclude Geographies from Your Ad Campaigns
By analysing your website’s IP logs, you will get an idea of where your competition is doing click fraud against you. If you do not do business in those geographies, you can exclude the locations from your ad campaigns.
Follow these steps to exclude the suspicious geographies
- In your Google AdWords account, go to Campaign>Settings
- Edit the ‘locations’ settings then go to Advanced Search>Bulk Locations
At this point, you can add up to 1,000 locations that you want to exclude from your ad campaigns. After this, you can select the country codes for the excluded locations then click Search. Finally, review the list, click Exclude all Matched locations > Done > Save.
Identify Ad Spending on Fake websites
Ads placed on fake sites are siphoning hundreds of dollars from your marketing fund every day. You can identify fake websites and maximise your ROI. These are the steps to follow
- Go to Google Display Network campaigns on your AdWords account
- Look for and click the ‘Placements’ tab
At this point, you should be on the lookout for abnormalities such as unusually high costs per click, conversion rates, higher clicks and fewer impressions, higher ad positions without clicks and other suspicious metrics.
Next, you should visit the website and ascertain that it is indeed a fake website and these are the signs that it is a fake website
- Too many ads per page
- It has a recently registered domain
- Thin content
- Few web pages, and pages with similar content
If the fake websites are few, you can exclude these fake websites by manually adding them to your exclusion list.
Create a Remarketing Campaign
A remarketing campaign shows your ads to people who have visited your mobile app or websites. It is one of the best ways to prevent your competition from undertaking click fraud schemes because they will not see your ads.
Here is how to go about setting up a remarketing campaign
- Open your AdWords campaigns and go to ‘Campaigns’ then go to +Campaigns > Display Network Only
- Check the “Marketing objectives” as well as check the ‘Buy on Your Website.’
- Choose a campaign name, a strategy, budget, and then click ‘Save.’
- Type in a group name and bid
- Choose ‘Interests and Remarketing’ in the ‘Choose how to target your ads’
- Go to ‘Select Category’ and choose ‘Remarketing Lists’
- Use ‘Set up remarketing’ to create your remarketing list
AdWords will generate and send you a tracking code that you should add to your site. In the ‘Remarketing Lists’ tab, locate the ‘All Visitors’ tab and then click ‘Save and continue.’
Your competition will use click fraud to kill your digital marketing and advertising without your knowledge. However, with the above tips, you will be able to maximise your ROI and prevent your competition from seeing and clicking on your ads.