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Lots of invalid traffic from the US

     
6:58 am on Apr 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

On my site I have noticed that CTR increased dramatically and CPC went downhill for clicks coming from the US, and mainly from mobile devices. This started end of march.

Seems that a lot of webmasters are experiencing the same problem, looking at the AdSense Products Forums:

[productforums.google.com ]
[productforums.google.com ]

Google doesn't seem to be doing anything about the problem except closing accounts.

Anyone care to comment?
7:10 am on Apr 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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After some investigation, it seems that the home page is being targeted. Will remove ads from the home page for now :-/
12:10 pm on Apr 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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We had a 210% increase in CTR yesterday so we had to remove the ads today. It was targeted towards our leaderboard ad so we remove that today

I just wish Adsense stats are updated well throughout the day. That way, we can immediately see when there's an abnormal thing going on.
6:16 am on Apr 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Also affected by this invalid clicks, I go through the logs of my websites and found out 5 addresses that is attacking the Google Adsense in the homepage of the website.

Here are the list of the ip addresses that I've blocked.

168.63.255.185
109.169.84.122
168.62.223.11
137.117.131.105
137.117.72.105
7:06 am on Apr 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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fwiw: 109.169.0.0/18 Iomart hosting (registered to US though in a RIPE range) so block-worthy in any case.

The others-- 137.116-117 and 168.61-63 --belong to Microsoft. Hm. Sulking because you're doing business with the competition?

I've met robots from both neighborhoods. Double hmm.
12:47 pm on Apr 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Google doesn't seem to be doing anything about the problem except closing accounts.


There's nothing they can do, there's nothing they will do, about regulating your traffic (I happen to believe there's nothing they should do)

Are you positive those IP numbers are actually clicking, or are they just visiting?

Yes, whenever you suspect there's some kind of a bot or other click attack, the best thing to do is take the ads off first. You could also put your own ad or image on the page, and see what your logs tell you from that.
3:54 pm on Apr 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Yes those numbers are clicking. I'll add this ip address 137.116.139.151
6:08 pm on Apr 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@galapiat Did you ever hear back from Google? It does seem like something is targeting homepages.
4:17 am on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@rickumus

Yes I did hear back from Google after the weekend. After some back and forth with them, they said I could add my site back to the list of authorized sites?. They would simply dismiss invalid clicks.

To be honest this doesn't really reassure me because I had instances in the past where one Adsense team member said one thing and another team member said the opposite.

So over the last few days I added then removed my site a few times from the authorized sites list, depending on when it looked like I had found a way to properly filter out invalid clicks then again not.

I tried different strategies to resolve the problem:
* remove ads from home page -> clicks then target other pages
* remove 300x250 from all pages (they were targeted at first) -> clicks target other ad sizes.
* replaced specific Adsense ads with Media.Net ads
* only activated AdSense ads at the bottom of the articles.

Up until now it seems that I haven't found a way to properly filter out invalid clicks. Statcounter doesn't really help because it can't properly monitor clicks. I'm told this is a limitation of Javascript. So only Google really knows who clicks our ads.

Google ultimately holds us responsible for the traffic on Adsense ads but withholds the most essential information for monitoring invalid clicks, which is the IP address. So we are essentially powerless and have to rely on Google to filter out invalid clicks and hope that they don't ban us from Adsense.
6:33 am on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@galapiat

Thanks for the reply back and the additional information! We are sort of taking the same measures. Just out of curiosity... Have you had any clicks from an "unknown region" during this time?
8:22 am on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Er no, no "unknown region" :-)
3:47 pm on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'm getting clicks from "unknown region". Is that bad?
4:59 pm on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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So we are essentially powerless and have to rely on Google to filter out invalid clicks and hope that they don't ban us from Adsense.


That's pretty much the conclusion I came to after lengthy communication with Google about invalid clicks. The bigger you are the greater the chance you have of surviving IMO.
8:28 pm on May 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Well, our finalized earnings were down about 25%. How did it turn out for you galapiat?
6:20 am on May 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I can't really compare April's earnings with March's earnings, because for some time periods I removed my site from the authorized sites list, then replaced some Adsense units with ones from Media.Net...
 

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