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Competitors Clicking on Ads

   
4:23 pm on Sep 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I have a problem with my competitors clicking on my AdWords ads. I have the logs showing their IP's and google glcid. These guys come on the site for 1-5 pages and just leave. Typically they do this every other day or so on ads that cost me $1+ per click.

I've contacted Google and will be sending them logs of the offenders - i was wondering what your guys experience is with competitors like this? What is the best option to stop them?

12:10 am on Sep 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I assume you have IPs that can somehow be traced either to the competitors' premises or computers that the competitors are likely to use. Additionally, you can contact the competitors' ISPs and ask for confirmation of traffic sourced by them at your sites, if possible. (You may need a court order for this.)
9:03 am on Sep 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Have you tried to communicate with your competitors? Do they run a PPC campaign? If they do, by bringing it to their attention that you know what they are doing and that in light of the fact they are also running a PPC campaign it would be in their interest to stop this activity!....I am not implying that you should seek revenge by doing what they are doing - just the mention of it may be enough to deter them.
9:12 am on Sep 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



you should report it to Google and send them all the data that you have from your weblogs. They do deduct the fraudulent clicks while billing you..
4:18 pm on Sep 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Yea, but is that necessarily going to be counted as a fraudulent click? I don't remember seeing any rule about not clicking on a competitor's ad every other day or so. I mean yea, it's slimy, but I don't know that it's prohibited.
4:24 pm on Sep 19, 2006 (gmt 0)



I dont think there is anythign you can do. Every other day is not much, and IPs don't tell anything, short of a major clicking campaign. There is no prohibition from clicking an ad because it's your competititors. If you do know who did it, casually suggest that you might return the favor so a cease fire is best for both.
4:26 pm on Sep 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Why not just block their IP?
6:09 pm on Sep 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



That's what I would do, but would it block the click? i.e. does Google count it before or after user actually loads the page?
6:16 pm on Sep 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



If you block their IP at the server level, they won't be able to load your page at all, so it will be a non-issue as far as Google is concerned.
6:29 pm on Sep 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Thats right, in the .htaccess:
deny from 1.2.3.4
I block loads of IPs - they just get a page not found or some such message and can't see anything.
6:44 pm on Sep 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Blocking their IP won't stop the click from occuring. This is a really annoying issue, especially for keywords that cost over $1 per click. A few competitors clicking 10 or so ads a day can seriously ruin one's ROI if you are running fairly small campaigns. I doubt Google cares but it would be easy enough to detect these patterns and filter out such clicks.
10:03 pm on Sep 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



That's what I would do, but would it block the click? i.e. does Google count it before or after user actually loads the page?

Since all G is doing is sending back (to the UI) a redirect to the advertiser's site, it doesn't (in theory) know what happens afterwards. The redirect is what is being billed for.

8:18 am on Sep 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



why not have a specific landing page designed for there IP address and have something like:

Your IP has been logged and has been forwarded to google click fraud team. If clicks persist your IP will be reported to the relevant authorities.

This should be enough to deter the thieves :)

Mike

12:44 pm on Sep 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



michaelbs - good point. BUT if your competitors are located in another country, legally one can't do much.

Click through editing tools help to block the IP address if a dedicated line is used, without loosing traffic. I figure most competitors click to check whether the site has been updated, or to do the daily competitive analysis.

So if they can't see the website, competitors will loose interest.

3:55 pm on Sep 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



(unless they're just clicking to run up your costs)
3:50 pm on Sep 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Blocking IP's doesn't do anything. If anything it makes the competitors more curious as to why the site isn't working and encourages them to find other means to clicking on your ads and ruining your conversion.

I submitted a couple click fraud reports to Google Friday and they tell me that a competitor clicking on my ads is NOT to be considered invalid or fraudulent click activity (in my specific case that is). This really blows my mind as i sent google logs of the person cliking on an ad, staying for not even 5 seconds then leaving. I have logs of this competitor clicking around 11 ads over a 2 month period. From their visits i can make the assumption that the purpose of clicking our ads is NOT to come to our site and look around, or to shop (yea right), but they click on our ads with the sole purpose of costing us money (as our logs can prove) but Google will not do anything about it. Keep in mind this competitor clicking on ads IS an Adwords advertiser.

I'm waiting for a more definitive answer from Google about this practice. While it seems highly un-ethical to click on competitors ads for malicious purposes, Google sees it different and from how i'm understanding it.

Google states the following about invalid click activity.....

Google strictly prohibits any method used to artificially generate invalid clicks or page impressions and closely monitors clicks on Google AdWords ads to prevent abuse. Invalid clicks may include the following:

- Manual clicks intended to increase your advertising costs or to increase profits for website owners hosting your ads.

- Clicks by automated tools, robots, or other deceptive software.

My competitor is clicking with the sole purpose of increasing my advertising costs - i don't see how google doesn't see this from my logs and click activity.

Google states in an e-mail.....
Any advertiser or publisher participating in invalid click activity or any related offense is subject to legal prosecution. We will also take the appropriate action on the related account and ensure that these individuals are not allowed further participation in the Google Network.

The best defense to this may just be a few phone calls to my competitors to let them know i can see what they are doing, and as someone else mentioned, it would be in their best interest to STOP seeing as to how they are AdWords advertisers as well. A semi-friendly phone call may just be the most effective option that i have.

We'll see where this goes..

7:55 pm on Sep 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Just a thought but possibly they are just taking a quick look at your site to get ideas. They may not even consider (or care) that it is costing you money.