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Are competitors clicking on your ads? (Really)???

Have you ever seen the ad of the "Wolf in sheepskin" with that menacing look that makes you fear that competitors are clicking on your ads? Well, let me tell you the truth behind this little menacing sheep. 🐑


Competitors clicking on your ads, the sheep that gives you paranoia -

Lets talk the truth behind this poor little sheep and if really "competitors clicking on your ads" stack is a real or not?

So, here we go again: the 8th session of our podcast, brought to you by ClickGUARD. Find us on Youtube and Spotify. Our Digital Marketing Guru and the extraordinary King of Data are going to turn on all the lights on a topic we were looking forward to being uncovered: are competitors clicking on your ads

This thousand of words come from an image meant to explain and convince marketers and PPC advertisers that competitors DO click on your ads, out of spite for your business and potential success. 

Before you tremble and fear that your PPC efforts are in vain, let our masters of ceremony clarify some key elements:  

  1. What’s behind the “competitors are clicking on your ads approach.” 
  2. How to identify bad traffic. 
  3. How to optimize your PPC campaigns for “intent.” 

Let us acknowledge that the ad is pretty well done. It doesn’t violate animal rights, as Jason amusingly suggested, but actually appeals to a popular idiom - the wolf in sheepskin. Miloš sees right through it: the sheep represent legitimate customers and potential conversions, while the wolf in sheepskin is a competitor clicking on your ads, masquerading as a legitimate customer. 

“Great cartoonish graphics, superficial message.” 

“Click Fraud” and wasteful clicks culprits 

You know by now that we’re not making assumptions nor claiming to be doing what cannot be done. When we say that: 

1. Not all waste is click fraud, it’s because the software cannot “catch competitor clicks” per se;

2. Competitor clicks are likely to be less than 30% of all fraudulent traffic, it is based on data and not confirm with 100% accuracy.

Have no doubt that this is shown by our thorough internal analysis, which allows us both a global and a granular observation of the click fraud magnitude. 

Globally, let us be upfront: PPC implies financial transactions and, though unfortunate, it’s a fact that where there’s money, there’s a high chance for fraud. 

On a more granular level, it’s unreasonable to think that competitors are the puppetmasters of your ads. 

“Who would do click fraud? Everyone who stands to gain!” 

Wondering who are the “far worse players in this game”? 

Could it be a search engine that profits from every single click? 

Or maybe a social media platform that was bashed for delivering fake click reports? 

Could it be one of the many apps and games conning tens of millions of dollars from the advertising community? 

Not only your Google, Facebook, and Android apps and games are likely to turn a blind eye to fraudulent or bad traffic in general. And certainly, your shady competitors are not the big bad wolf. So, before trusting our competitors’ ads, get informed and request access to data. 

DOs and DON'Ts in Click forensics 

You’ve learned quite a bit about post-click analysis and the most valuable asset in the PPC marketers’ toolbox, listening to our previous webinar (refresh your memory reading the transcript). 

“It all revolves around conversions. If something is not converting, you cut it off.” 

If you find yourself having traffic from underperforming ad placement, stop serving ads to it. Just like Google Ads marketers use negative keywords to exclude searches that dilute their audience or demonstrate a lack of intent to convert, you have a simple yet effective way of dealing with conversions and lack of conversions. That is, collecting and interpreting the data, aka click forensics. 

Armed with post-click analysis data using our click forensics, focus on:

  • Getting your ads in front of good quality leads 
  1. Browse through the rich pool of information. 
  2. Figure out what kind of traffic is good traffic. 
  • Optimize your campaigns 
  1. Set rules that cut off the waste based on set thresholds. 
  2. Make sure this process is ongoing and transparent. 

“It’s our job to make these crucial things possible for you...and this is what we do.”

Finding the truth behind your PPC traffic  

What happens if I exclude a genuine customer because of false positives, you may ask. Jason must be a PPC marketer mind reader, then, and Miloš the man with the answers and a plan. 

Yes, user behavior analysis is the safest way to optimize your campaigns for intent, and yes, Miloš explains it once again so we can put it in bold - we cannot overestimate its importance: 

“Intent-based optimization it’s all about looking for intent and cutting off the waste that doesn’t have intent.”

The keywords here are waste and intent, which Miloš debunks. Let's say you’re really targeted by competition. Do competitors have the intent to convert? No. They will exhibit certain behavior you can actually track and optimize against it in two steps: 

  • Cutting off the waste by paying attention to what converts and what doesn’t.  
  • Making more room for converting traffic - read “intent,” as intent implies conversion. 

Still tempted to “blindly” trust the system that magically blocks clicks from competitors?! Spare a few minutes and consider Miloš’ advice: 

  • Be mindful of buying into the promises of your vendor to properly count the sheep and wolves. 

Just like you, your competitors have their own businesses to promote. Would you invest your time and efforts in damaging someone’s business more than in building yours? 

  • Do not fall into the trap of retaliating. 

While fretting about being targeted by your competitors, you might miss on everything else.

Miloš’ disclaimers 

  1. Sound conclusions are based on solid data. When tracking conversion we’re going to look at sales, subscriptions, sign-ups, etc., and NOT at clicks. 
  2. If your competitor hires click fraud as a service, we’re ready to approach this beast in a specific manner. We start with click forensics to know exactly what’s going on and take action accordingly. And you’ll be in the know all along. 

Questions for the wolf 

Jason and Miloš have their questions figured out. You may use them as they are or get inspired and ask your own whenever you encounter an “ad tech vendor” that, as Jason rightfully put it, “enhances victimization.” 

  • How did you determine that X or Y% of my clicks are coming from my competitors? 
  • Is this even GDPR compliant?
  • How do your systems catch and deal with all other forms of unwanted traffic, like traffic from bots, lookie-loos? 
  • Why do you focus on competitors and not on conversions? 
  • If your data rules and your AI is magic, why can’t you show the data, show me the paper trail behind each and every “block”? 

Who asked what, and what was the open question Jason asked Miloš? Find out by tuning to our session “Are competitors clicking on your ads?”

Webinar Details



45 Mins

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Miloš Đekić

Former Head of Product

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Jason Pittock

Former CMO @ ClickGUARD

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