Google Adwords is the search platform with the most robust targeting options. However, creating an Adwords IP exclusion was not always an option for advertisers.
With well documented problem of click fraud in Google Ads, an option to manually block IP addresses is essential.
Click fraud is rife in paid online marketing, with traffic surging in recent years. This PPC fraud can come from multiple sources. It might be your direct business competitors, click farms or malicious organised botnets.
The consequences of PPC fraud can be hugely damaging to your marketing efforts. From lost customers and damaged brand visibility, to the loss of your marketing budget to fraud.
In this guide, we will explain how and why you should manually block IP addresses in Google Ads (Adwords).
How to block IP Addresses 2020:
- Sign in to your Google Ads account (ads.google.com)
- Click “Settings” from the page menu on the left
- Choose which campaign to exclude IP addresses from
- Click to expand the “IP exclusions” section (if you can’t see the “IP exclusions” section, click “Additional settings”)
- Enter the IP addresses you want to exclude
- Hit “Save”
Note that the above is for the new Google Ads platform. If you’re still using the previous “Google Adwords” platform, see instructions to block an IP address for Adwords here.
It’s also important to mention that you can exclude certain geographic areas through your targeting process. But this is probably too broad of an exclusion for most campaigns, especially when you have identified problematic IP addresses.
When Will You Need to Block IP Addresses?
Blocking an IP address is a strong measure, however it’s a very powerful way to protect your ads from being taken advantage of. There are various situations in which you would want to block an IP address.
First on the list is competitors. If you see that a certain IP address is constantly clicking your ads and not converting; or if you see that the IP address is located in the same area as a competitor, you’d want to block that IP address immediately.
You’re probably both bidding on the same keywords, so your competitor will know exactly how to trigger your ad showing, and will be able to easily click it.
Taking this one step further are click farms. These are industrial scale warehouses who are get paid to click on anything from social media posts to PPC ads. They can be easily hired, often by a competitor, to click on your paid ads.
This can result in thousands of clicks in a very short amount of time, quickly draining your account and causing your ads not to show – not to mention wasting your money.
Then, there is “the wrong” customer. This customer constantly clicks your ads to check you out, but never converts. Some businesses might appreciate the interest, while for others it may just be a waste of time and money.
This also has an impact on your Quality Score. By eliminating unwanted clicks, your metrics improve which makes your ads even more effective (and reduces the chances of your ads not showing).
Is There a Difference Between Excluding and Blocking IP Address?
Excluding an IP address is essentially blocking that address from seeing your ads. When it comes to Google Ads, this is the same thing.
When it comes to analytics however, these terms take on different meanings. Here, you would want to exclude certain IP addresses in order to get a more accurate picture of your campaign’s results.
For example, one of the IP addresses you’d want to exclude would be your own. Clicks on your website (or worse: your ads) from your own company are of course irrelevant in your metrics and analysis, and should be excluded by default.
This also holds true in the case where you have identified the IP address of a competitor or click farm. You should exclude these IP addresses from your analytics results in order to see the true picture of the state of your campaigns.
Why is Manual IP Exclusion Useless When it Comes to Click Fraud?
Manually excluding IP addresses is great, especially if you are only interested in blocking the occasional personal IP address that is associated with your household, workplace or specific competitor. It is not recommended if you suspect you are dealing with click fraud.
Why is manual IP exclusion useless when it comes to click fraud?
- Click Velocity – Fraudulent IP clicks often happen in a burst, with the clicks piling up extremely quickly. If you are manually excluding an IP, the majority of the damage will have already been done before you get to excluding it
- Wasted Money – By the time you will identified a fraudulent IP, the competitor or bot will have wasted a healthy portion of your advertising budget
- Time Consuming – Going over your web logs, discovering which IP addresses need to be excluded and then manually excluding them is very time-intensive
Clearly, a more effective strategy is needed.
How Does Automatic IP Exclusion Work?
By leveraging third party software, it becomes much simpler to perform the necessary detection and automatic exclusion of an IP address.
How does automatic IP exclusion work? When it comes to click fraud, there are 3 steps for automatic IP exclusion.
- Monitoring: Adding code to your Google Ads campaign and to your landing pages that will let the anti-click fraud software collect the necessary data points
- Detecting: Now that you have collected the data, the anti-fraud algorithm can do its job. Many data points come into the decision making of what is, and what isn’t, fraud.
- Blocking: Once the fraudulent IP addresses that need to get blocked have been identified, they are instantly inputted into your Google Ads excluded IP list.
As we have seen, the exclusion of an IP address is simple, whether done manually or automatically by a third party such as ClickCease. What you really need to ask yourself is WHY you are blocking an IP.
Competitors clicking on your paid ads is in fact a common practice, as we have seen in some of our case studies.
If your industry or keyword is competitive it would be wise to check out what level of fraud you are facing on your AdWords campaign, and then decide if you want to block those IP addresses moving forward. It’s an excellent way to boost the performance of your ad campaigns as well as your business itself.
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