AdWord Click Fraud: what it is and how to avoid it?

Posted by Michaila Pirie in Search on 07 October 2015

Tags: adwords, google adwords, google services, internet marketing

If you advertise with Google AdWords, then you should be familiar with the pay per click advertising strategy. However, there are some confusing aspects of AdWords which we believe need to be unravelled. For instance, have you ever wondered how Google ensures the legitimacy of each click? Are there safety measures in place to help avoid paying for malicious or fake clicks? Well, here is a guide to help you understand invalid clicks and how they are dealt with.

What is click fraud?

Fraudulent or invalid clicks refers to clicks which do not originate from genuine customer interest and are therefore deemed as being illegitimate. This could be either for malicious and deliberate reasons as well as for other reasons, such as unintentional double clicks on an ad.

Although uncommon, malicious clicks can occur for a number of reasons, these include:

•  Competitors deliberately clicking on your ad repeatedly in order to increase your advertising costs
•  Third party website owners intentionally clicking on your display ads in order to increase their profits
•  Automated clicks stemming from deceptive software or robots.

How do you deal with click fraud?

Fear not, Google has a whole department dedicated to protecting advertisers from invalid clicks. Every click in AdWords is scanned by an automated system which monitors data such as: IP addresses, the times of the day that the clicks occurred as well as other click patterns. Using this data, the Google Adwords department will determine whether the clicks are valid and genuine or suspicious and invalid. They identify and filter out illegitimate clicks before they even appear in your AdWords reports and affect your budget. Additionally, if any invalid clicks do escape Google’s automated system and are spotted up to two months later, your account will be reimbursed in order to compensate for the illegitimate traffic.

However, if you would like to see if your account has had any invalid activity that has been filtered out, there is a way to still view it.

1) After signing into your account, click the Campaign tab in your AdWords report. 
2) Then click the Columns tab and select ‘customize columns’ from the drop down. 
3) Select the metric “Performance” and then add ‘Invalid click’ to your reports and you should be able to tell whether your account has invalid clicks and how many occurred.

More so, if you are noticing a suspicious change in click volumes or account data, you can report it to the Google AdWords support team and request an investigation. Their support team is highly efficient and usually respond via phone call or email within 24 +hours.