6 ClickGUARD rules to protect your Google Ads campaigns from click fraud

November 4, 2020
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Click fraud prevention: eliminate bot traffic, stop competitor keyword attacks, and exclude low-quality traffic and placements

If you’re looking for a solution that’ll help you prevent click fraud from affecting your Google Ads campaigns, this post highlights some of ClickGUARD’s automated rules that can help you set up defenses against bots, competitors, and crawlers.

Table of contents

Automatic blocking of IPs or devices outside of targeted locations

ClickGUARD rules: automatic blocking of IPs or devices outside of targeted locations

Even if you target specific locations through your Google Ads campaign settings, you still may get ad clicks from outside of the specified areas. There are perfectly innocent reasons for your ads to be displayed outside of your preferred locations: someone might be using a VPN, or, for mobile devices, ad display might be based on inaccurate IP address information.

The challenge is that while some clicks outside of targeted locations might be coming from potential customers, others may be coming from click fraudsters or bot farms.

The ClickGUARD automated rule featured below achieves 2 goals: get your ads in front of leads and block fraudulent clicks. 

Unfortunately, there is no way to get 100% accurate location information, but ClickGUARD checks IP addresses across different geolocation services to improve geolocation accuracy for ads and eliminate clicks coming from fraudulent sources.

ClickGUARD rule: blocking IP addresses outside of a targeted area

In this case, the ClickGUARD rule is set to block IP addresses or devices outside the US for 14 days if more than 2 clicks are logged from the same IP address or device within 1 week.

However, you can also adjust the rule settings to block IP addresses outside of the targeted geo-area after the first click, so that potential click fraudsters don’t get another chance to click on your ad.

Read a full rundown of how this automated ClickGUARD rule eliminates traffic from outside of the targeted area.

Exclusion of repeated clicks from mobile devices and tablets

ClickGUARD rule: exclusion of repeated clicks from mobile devices and tablets

There can be different reasons for excluding mobile and tablet users from seeing your ads.

In some cases, you may want to exclude mobile traffic because your mobile conversion rates are lower and you need to improve your mobile UX before reactivating the ads. In other cases, you may want to exclude fraudulent clicks coming through tablets and mobile phones from bot farms or botnets (bots and smart bots account for 57% of mobile ad fraud).

Given the rise in sophisticated click fraud tactics on mobile devices, such as click injections, this may be one of the best ways to improve your ROAS.

You can target (and exclude) specific devices through Google Ads campaign settings, but sometimes you may still get visitors from mobile devices or tablets. ClickGUARD uses click forensics data to make it easier to block mobile traffic.

ClickGUARD rule: excluding traffic from mobile and tablet devices

Here the rule is set to exclude traffic from mobile and tablet devices when more than 1 click within 1 week comes from the same IP address or device, with devices specified as “tablet” or “mobile.”
Read more about the way this automated ClickGUARD rule blocks unwanted traffic.

Automatic blocking of all IPs or devices targeting keywords you are bidding on

ClickGUARD rules: automatic blocking of all IPs or devices targeting keywords you are bidding on

Some businesses have to deal with competitor click fraud: a situation where competitors are targeting the same keywords and keyword groups in their ads, and try to get ahead by depleting other companies’ ad budgets with fraudulent clicks.

One of ClickGUARD’s capabilities is creating rules for specific keywords, or for specific keyword groups based on keyword forensics data, including an in-depth view of related clicks, IP addresses, and devices. If your competitors set out to disrupt your ad campaigns by repeatedly clicking on your ads for a specific keyword, it’s possible to stop them by using a rule that blocks clicks coming from the same IP address and targeting a keyword or a group of keywords .

ClickGUARD rules: blocking keyword attacks

In this example, the rule blocks IP addresses or devices that target more than 5 keywords within 1 day.

Read a brief overview of this rule, and find out more about competitor click fraud methods.

Automatic blocking of IP ranges bringing traffic from devices without a digital fingerprint

ClickGUARD rule: blocking of IP ranges bringing traffic from devices without a digital fingerprint

Not all devices that are logged as missing a digital fingerprint (or unique properties, such as operating system, browser, or screen resolution) necessarily belong to click fraudsters. Some of those clicks may be coming from legitimate leads that have disabled JavaScript or use ad blockers. However, a spike in clicks from devices without a digital fingerprint is likely a sign of a bot farm attack. This ClickGUARD rule enables you to block IP ranges that bring in fraudulent traffic from a malicious source — a bot farm, for example.

ClickGUARD rule: blocking devices without a digital fingerprint

This automated ClickGUARD rule is set up so that when more than 5 ad clicks from the same IP range are attributed to devices without a fingerprint within 2 days, the IP range is blocked, and the clicks are labeled as fraudulent.

Read an in-depth explanation of this customizable rule.

Automatic exclusion of low-quality placements

ClickGUARD rule: automatic exclusion of low-quality placements

ClickGUARD can protect your ads from low-quality traffic coming from unscrupulous publishers.

In this case, the primary metric determining whether or not a particular placement should be excluded is time on page. While Google Analytics needs a second interaction to record time spent on a page, ClickGUARD tracks the entire browser session after your visitors land on your landing page even if there’s no second interaction, so that you have more accurate information to evaluate the quality of incoming traffic and block low-quality placements for your display campaigns.

You can view information on all placement domains under “Placement Log”, and see related clicks, time on page, and IP addresses under “Placement Forensics”.

ClickGUARD rule: blocking low-quality traffic

This rule excludes low-quality ad placements that bring in bot traffic or low-quality human traffic, for example, more than 10 visitors per day who spend less than 30 seconds on the website.

Read more about protecting your display ad placements from click fraud in this post.

Blocking PPC traffic that doesn’t convert

ClickGUARD rule: blocking PPC traffic that doesn’t convert

ClickGUARD can also help reduce PPC advertising costs by locking out the lookie-loos that click through, but do not convert. While this is not a click fraud issue, not blocking these clicks inevitably increases CPA and campaign costs.

This rule is especially useful for e-commerce brands running Google Ads Shopping campaigns, where shopping intent is evident and the path to conversion is easy to determine.

Since ClickGUARD tracks visitor behavior, from time on site to site interactions, you can easily establish how many interactions it takes on average to convert a lead into a customer, and how long it takes that lead to convert.

Having done that, you can set up a rule to block clicks that are not likely to convert by setting a specific timeframe and a specific threshold of clicks for that time period. Note that you can also get more bang for your buck by blocking ads for customers who already converted.

ClickGUARD rule: blocking lookie-loos

In this example, most website visitors convert after 2 interactions or fewer.

The rule blocks IP addresses or devices that log more than 5 clicks in 1 week and have no history of converting.

Read a full description of this rule to protect Google Shopping Ads from lookie-loos.

The ClickGUARD click fraud protection difference: fully customizable automated rules

At ClickGUARD, we believe that the only way to provide robust click fraud protection is to give our customer access to full forensics data and make all our rules fully customizable, instead of relying on machines to find the best settings.

You can customize all ClickGUARD rules based on campaign type, keywords, or ad groups, so that the rules are aligned with your customers’ behavior and your competitive landscape.

In addition, click forensics and placement forensics data show which rules worked and which didn’t — which is especially important once you eliminate all of the immediate click fraud threats and focus on optimizing your ad campaign ROAS. Find out more about the difference between ClickGUARD and other click fraud protection solutions here.

If you suspect that you’re a victim of click fraud, sign up for a free audit to see how much of your traffic comes from click fraudsters, and get actionable tips from ClickGUARD data scientists on how to stop them.

Jason is a passionate data-driven specialist with extensive PPC & SEO experience. When not writing about SEM he can be found surfboarding the wildest ocean waves of the Argentinian coast.