23 Jun 2011
Invalid Clicks in AdWords
Invalid clicks are a legitimate concern of many AdWords users, and it makes sense. In a Pay-Per-Click world, why wouldn’t people click through over and over again to put their competitors at a disadvantage? Well, Google is one step ahead, and they’ve already created an accredited process to recognize those invalid, duplicate and all together false clicks. This process certifies that PPC campaigns are being used correctly, and that advertisers can rest easy knowing that their budgets and advertising messages remain safe.
Every time an AdWords ad is clicked, Google runs that activity through a filter. Google examines several details surrounding the click, including anything from the time that the click took place, the IP address that produced the click, checking for duplicate entries to recognizing other various patterns that can indicate fraudulent use. As a first line of defense, any clicks coming from sources known to have a history of AdWords abuse (such a non-human tracking, or bots), are automatically discarded.
Google uses a combination of these computer filter systems and teams of actual employees to decide the fate of each click. The filters scan through series of clicks to detect invalid behavior. These devices recognize invalid clicks and exclude them from the final activity reports that the AdWords advertisers receive, eliminating the problem before it ever reaches the user.
Google hands over the hard-to-decipher activity to their team of professionals. These employees delve deeper into the sources of each and every click. Once all of the information surrounded the activity is collected, the click is then deemed valid or invalid. If any invalid clicks are found in the last two months of activity, they are credited back to the AdWords user’s account, making fraudulent use inconsequential.
The Media Rating Council (MRC) ensures that Google is adhering to industry standards and that the technology used to measure the clicks is accurate. The original guidelines were set up in coordination with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in an effort to make sure that true clicks were counted, and that false ones were rejected. The MRC hires a CPA firm to conduct a yearly audit for these interactive advertising clicks, to preserve accurate use and monitor correct monetary exchange.
The yearly audit observes AdWords, or advertising PPC solutions, and AdSense, the publisher’s PPC solutions. The links that appear as a result of paid advertising in the context of a search query are covered in the audit, however, impression-based advertising solutions that are used for non-commercial purposes, such as Google search itself, are not included in that realm.
Google prepares click reports for the advertiser so that they can have a first-hand look at who is being redirected to their sites. Included in their reporting is the number of invalid clicks received and the invalid clickthrough rate. While logged into your AdWords account, you can view these numbers by customizing the columns in the Campaigns view.
Having these guidelines in place ensures advertisers are protected from fraudulent clicks and that their creative marketing message is reaching the people whom they intend to reach. Google has created a fine infrastructure to ensure that the sanctity of the click is preserved and that AdWords users are getting the most CTR for their buck.