With 8.5 billion daily searches, Google has emerged as a pivotal tool for marketers, enabling them to connect with a vast audience worldwide. However, the ongoing trend of using paid ads for advertising simultaneously triggers many threats, including ad fraud.
And this is where the importance of IP address blocking comes into play. It’s often the first go-to strategy for many advertisers against the influx of unwanted traffic. The rise of ad fraud, on the other hand, has also increased the awareness of advertisers to protect their ads from fraudulent interactions.
But why do you need it, and how can you minimize the risks of such interactions on your Google Ads campaigns? Let’s dive into the article and explore this crucial aspect of protecting your ad campaigns and budget.
The importance of blocking IP addresses from your ads
The rates of fake traffic in paid marketing are growing exponentially. An average business loses 5.9% of its ad budget to fake clicks. That means for every $1000 of ad spend, you’re losing, on average, $59 on ad fraud. This number varies depending on your industry, location, keywords, etc., and can reach 18.9% in some regions.
There are several reasons why you need to block IP addresses:
- Issue: Competitors or malicious entities may repeatedly click on your ads without genuine interest, draining your ad budget.
- Solution: If you block the IP addresses associated with these repetitive clicks, you can ensure that your ads won’t be displayed to them again.
Bot traffic and click farms
- Issue: Bots and click farms are common sources of non-genuine ad interactions. Bots are software programs designed to interact with ads in an automated way, while click farms are locations occupied with many devices that are used to generate fake ad clicks, views, or impressions.
- Solution: You can block known click farms’ IP addresses from your Google Ads, and this will prevent them from accessing your ad campaigns in the future.
Paid-to-Click (PTC) sites
- Issue: PTC sites reward users to click on ads, leading to low-quality traffic that doesn’t convert into meaningful engagement.
- Solution: Blocking IP addresses linked to PTC sites ensures that your ads are not being clicked by users motivated solely by financial incentives, preserving your ad budget for genuine prospects.
Enhanced analytics accuracy
- Issue: Inaccurate data due to non-genuine clicks can lead to misguided decision-making and inefficient use of resources.
- Solution: To ensure your data and analytics reflect genuine user interactions only, it’s best to block those suspicious IP addresses.
How to block IP addresses manually in Google Ads?
Swift and strategic action is the key when it comes to protecting your Google Ads campaigns from problematic IP addresses. Manually blocking these addresses is a go-to tactic for advertisers seeking immediate action and solutions.
As soon as you identify repetitive clicks, suspicious behavior, or unwanted engagement, diving into your Google Ads account and initiating manual IP address blocking becomes paramount. This approach ensures that you block the IP addresses causing trouble from further interactions with your ads.
- Identify suspicious IP addresses – Regularly monitor your website traffic for unusual patterns. You can do this in your Google Analytics or other web analytics software and track patterns such as repetitive clicks or spikes of clicks at unusual times. Such behaviors usually indicate suspicious activity.
- Access your Google Ads account at ads.google.com
- Navigate to the “Campaigns” icon in the left-hand menu – Click the Campaigns drop-down in the section menu and select “Campaigns.”
- Choose the specific campaign you want to block IP/s from
- Access campaign settings – Click on the settings icon (Admin Icon) to access the “Settings” page.
- Expand IP exclusions – On the “Settings” page, find and click “Additional settings.”
- Click to expand the “IP exclusions” section on the page
- Enter IP addresses – Within the “IP exclusions” section, input the IP addresses you want to block from seeing your ads.
- Save your changes – After entering the relevant IP addresses, click “Save” to apply the changes.
Additional tips for blocking IP addresses in Google Ads
Enhance your IP address-blocking strategy with these insightful tips to fortify your Google Ads campaigns:
- Use wildcards for IP address ranges – You can use an asterisk (*) as a wildcard to block entire IP address ranges. For example, entering *192.168. will block all IP addresses in the 192.168.0.0/16 range.
- Be careful when using wildcards – Exercise caution with wildcards, as you can exclude thousands of real users with an incorrect wildcard.
- Leverage third-party IP exclusion lists – Explore the option of excluding IP addresses through third-party IP exclusion lists. Those are lists obtained and maintained by cybersecurity services that have repositories with IP addresses already known as sources of suspicious or malicious traffic. This approach can provide additional layers of protection against known harmful IP addresses.
- Consider ad fraud protection services – When dealing with a substantial volume of IP addresses to block, consider the efficiency of click fraud and ad fraud protection services. These services are tailored to identify and exclude fraudulent clicks while ensuring no legitimate users will be excluded.
The limitations of the manual process of IP address blocking
While manual IP address blocking is a handy process to disrupt interactions from malicious sources with your ads, it does come with its limitations.
Tracking and identifying fraudulent IP addresses takes time, during which your ad budget may already be affected. The process of spotting patterns can be tricky; what seems suspicious might sometimes be genuine users interacting with your ads.
Moreover, sophisticated bots and click farms have their own bag of tricks, smoothly navigating through various IP addresses and locations using proxies and VPNs.
So, while manual blocking is a step in the right direction, it may not catch all the nuances of the ever-evolving strategies employed by fraudulent actors in the digital space.
Blocking IP addresses with automated click fraud detection software
Unlike manual processes, software solutions operate at lightning speed, swiftly detecting and blocking fraudulent IP addresses before they can cause serious damage.
The advantage lies in their efficiency – automated systems eliminate the need for time-consuming tracking and identification of suspicious IP addresses. Typically, these solutions can catch any fraudulent traffic sources before they even interact with your ad.
Our team at ClickCease, for example, has built a solution that combines over 2,000 behavioral tests to identify suspicious activities, even when there are confusing patterns. This also ensures that you’re not blocking real users.
Automated click fraud detection software can also be used to identify and block sophisticated bots and click farms. It’s known that these entities often use proxies and VPNs to hide their true locations. While it’s hard to identify fraudulent IP addresses that change frequently, advanced click fraud detection software can still identify and block them effectively.
You can try ClickCease’s 7-day free trial to experience firsthand how it can help you save money on your ad budget and improve the overall performance of your ad campaigns. ClickCease is easy to use and can be integrated with existing Google Ads campaigns to efficiently help you with the IP address-blocking process.
What are the common suspicious patterns to look for when identifying IP addresses?
If you regularly track your ad campaign’s analytics, several common patterns can indicate that an IP address, or multiple ones, may be involved in suspicious behavior. Look for the following patterns:
- High click-through rates (CTR)
- Large number of clicks from a single IP address
- Large number of clicks from a small number of IP addresses
- Suspicious spikes of clicks occurring consistently at the same time each day
- Unusual device or user patterns, like clicks without mouse movements
If you spot any of these patterns, it might be a sign that you need to block those IP addresses and minimize the impact of fraudulent activities.
Does blocking IP addresses impact my ad’s performance?
Blocking IP addresses can be a helpful tool for improving your ad performance, but it’s important to use it carefully. Blocking invalid traffic, such as clicks from bots or competitors, can lead to a better click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, and cost-per-click (CPC).
However, blocking legitimate traffic is risky if you don’t do it carefully. Only block IP addresses that you’re sure are invalid or unwanted. If you’re unsure whether or not to block a certain IP address, consider using a third-party tool to help you identify and block invalid traffic.
What happens if I accidentally block a valid IP address?
Blocking a valid IP address in Google Ads can have unintended consequences, including reduced ad reach and missing out on potential customers. If you suspect you have blocked a legitimate user’s IP address, you can amend this in your Google Ads settings and remove the IP address from the exclusion list.