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Does Adwords count unique clicks or any clicks?
A simple question

 3:59 pm on Apr 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

If one user searches on google and clicks on my adword ad more than once within the same few minutes/hours, does each click count towards my daily CTR or will it only charge you for one click?



 4:37 pm on Apr 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Davey, this is what Google says on the topic:

Google closely monitors all clicks on Google AdWords ads to ensure that there is no abuse of the program. This includes analyzing all clicks to determine whether they fit a pattern of fraudulent use intended to artificially drive up an advertiser's clicks. Google's proprietary technology automatically distinguishes between clicks generated through normal use by users and clicks generated by click spammers and automated robots. As a result, we're able to filter out clicks you don't want and ensure they don't show up on your reports or bills.

In my opinion, if an Ad network does not CLEARLY specify to the contrary, in other words something like "only unique clicks will be counted during a 24hr period thru the use of a cookie" then the ARE NOT doing it. Therefor, my best answer is Google is looking for FRAUD not a couple of clicks from the same user over a predefined period of time.


 5:22 pm on Apr 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

OK, thanks Chicago


 8:51 am on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

So could my competitors spam me by clicking on my adword continuously and driving up my costs?


 9:31 am on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

So could my competitors spam me by clicking on my adword continuously and driving up my costs?

Short version: Kinda, mabye.

There is a threshold for triggering the 'ignore click' logic. Some multi-clicks will be counted against you. (I.E. User sees ad, clicks, goes 'back' and clicks your ad again a few seconds later because they didn't mean to go 'back')

That said, the logic is _not_ foolproof. One of my clients got hit by a 'click-agent' using some 'advanced' tactics. It took a few days of back and forth with Google, but he did get a virtually complete credit.

(I won't go into details, no need to encourage this)

But my best advice -- if you're going to advertise with a high CPC, or in keyword(s) that may lend people to attempt false-clicks:

1. Keep good logs from your webserver. Absolutely MUST include referer. Also make sure your clock on your webserver is VERY accurate. (I'd keep it ntp-synched -- it helps to match up clicks between Google's logs and yours)
2. Monitor your inbound adwords traffic carefully. Look for unusuall patterns. Use tracking URLs and search for common IPs popping up often. (Exclude all of *.aol.com -- the proxy servers will throw you off here)
3. Decent analysis of your traffic will help you identify questionable clicks.
4. Don't call Google every time you get hit with 2, 3, 4 etc. clicks from a single IP. If that 4x clicker represents 10% of your clicks/day then mabye, but if it's .01% of your daily click traffic, don't bother. Some multiple-clicks are semi-normal. Your analysis may tell you just how normal it is.
5. See number 2.
6. If you see a serious click-increase you suspect may be abuse of the system, pause your ad group(s) affected and contact Google immediately. Give them a chance to reply, but let them know you will resume the adgroup(s) after X-hours. (This is what, IMHO, got my client his refund. He disabled the campaign about 3 hours into the click-attack, when he got his midnight report. It was disabled for about 13 hours while he started the dialog with Google. Because he took an active role in trying to stop the abuse Google was much more willing to help him.)

If others have suggestions (or comments on mine) feel free to jump in.


 2:30 pm on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks a lot for that. If my competitors did spam me in this way, although it would be costly, would it not be beneficial in a way because it would at least drive up my click-through-rate?


 2:45 pm on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Davey, as you know, Google uses a blend of CTR and Bid to determine your ranking. So naturally redundant clicks would help your CTR. One must presume however, that if these losers are clicking on your ads then they are clicking on all the others as well, thereby minimizing the benefit of your higher CTR.


 6:21 pm on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree 100% with Chicago. I think the overriding concern is how much is your CPC, and what volume of 'fradulent' clicks. If you're getting even 100 a day at $.05/CPC it's annoying, 100/day at $1.50/CPC would seriously piss me off. :)


 2:31 pm on Apr 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Recently I've worked on reconciling my web logs with both Google and Overture click through reports( I use the "referrer=Google?kw=widget" to track referrers).

I found that I usually don't get an exact match with their reported numbers but get pretty close for most keywords if I just filter the referrers so I just get one click per IP address per day (ie. I eliminate multiple referrals for a given IP address on a given day).

We don't have huge PPC traffic overall, and we are somewhat of a niche B2B company, so we don't get as large an amount of traffic from the major ISP's like AOL so that may make my approach work better than it would in other circumstances.

My results seem to suggest that Google and Overture do use some sort of fraud prevention system, although I'm not sure what the exact algorithm is (and they say that their exact technique is "proprietary" so they don't give much in the way of details).

Assuming they are using a fraud prevention algorithm, my philosophy with verifying the click throughs is that close is good enough -- what do you think?

Do you guys actually match them click for click with your logs?


 3:35 pm on Apr 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Assuming they are using a fraud prevention algorithm, my philosophy with verifying the click throughs is that close is good enough -- what do you think?

Basically, yes. There's one more thing I do with my referral tracking. First, it's all done in real time on-line via a backend database. (No logfile parsing). I have a cronjob that queries the DB for the last 8 15 minute period referral stats by source (adwords seperate from banner ads etc) and compares it against the same periods 1 day and 1 week ago.

I have some threshold values setup so that if there is a sudden jump in referrals either an e-mail is sent or I get an IM notification with the stats. (I actually use Jabberd to provide web-based chat on this site, so it was an easy extension).

In other words, if someone goes on a clicking bender I'll know within 15-30 mins.

Do you guys actually match them click for click with your logs?

I tried, and found I'll usually get pretty close on slow days. The thing that kept thowing my numbers off was the fact that Google measures a day based on Pacific Time (now GMT-7 IIRC) while I measure on Eastern time. Once that was fixed I found the margin of error to be less then 1% when there were no multiple-clicks in the sample period. It's an important distinction: the 'error' rate will change when the fraud detection kicks in.

After screwing around with the fraud detection on a $.05 keyword (I paid for) I'm confortable enough that I know what to look for on my side to catch it so that I can let Google be Google and not agonize over differences between their numbers and mine.


 11:19 am on Apr 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

If Google wants to be transparrent, why not provide access to their log files so a webmaster can see every IP which clicked on his site?

Easy and foolproof. Any duplicate IP would obviously not be chargable.

The big problem for me with PPC is transparrency. This would clean up the murkiness.

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