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Google AdWords: Invalid Activity Increasing

     
10:50 am on Jan 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have noticed an increase in invalid activity refunds recently.

I am reluctant to use the words click fraud, mainly because I have no specific details beyond the "Invalid activity" refunds.

I've watched people click on ads more than once as they do research and go back to the search. It's only when I tell them that the advertiser gets charged each time they click do they think about the impact of their clicks. I wouldn't call that click fraud as there is no intent to defraud involved.

I'm also aware of the problem of mobile ads and accidental clicks. That problem was, to some extent, resolved by Google some time back.

What about the bots and networks devised to click, obfuscating their IP?

What about the so called "click farms" best known for generating fake "likes" and twitter followers?

I don't believe we've heard enough success stories in the battle to combat this problem, and it's worrying when I see increases in refunds for invalid activity, which, because of obfuscation, I cannot effectively see why that was invalid.

Have you noticed any emerging patterns of invalid activity?
11:15 pm on Jan 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I don't do Adwords, but my Adsense account has been crazy since the second day of the year. Clicks go up and clicks go down (along with CPC, CTR and revenue) with no explanation. My site isn't very big, and it's a forum so clicks are infrequent (10 a day is a big number) but when they are suddenly reduced over and over during a day... well something is up. I can't imagine my users are committing clickfraud (and I know I'm not). So... I dunno.

And page views are always lower on Adsense than they are on Piwik (right now they are about 75%).

However, I must say that if you are getting refunds at least it's not G pocketing extra cash. Is there some new "program" at G that started on January 2?
2:02 am on Jan 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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There are bots running rampant through the Display Network; Google has as good as told me so (AdSense Support) because I'm seeing wild swings that I've never seen before. Google says they have a handle on it; personally I'm pretty sure they're overcompensating in refunding the invalid activity because I keep a pretty eagle eye on raw log files, but yes, there are definitely ad clicking bots, and I believe that *attempted* click fraud is currently at an all time high. But as opaque as Google is, we'll never get any specific information out of them.
1:10 pm on Jan 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've watched people click on ads more than once as they do research and go back to the search.

Of the last five visitors to my site one re-clicked on their search three times. That proportion is consistent with previous observations. If you are advertising in search that is going to happen to your ads.
5:58 pm on Jan 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'm happy to accept the re-clicking, if it's a genuine user. Google has become good at spotting those.

The problem I see is the increase in refunds for the Invalid Activity.

It has to be bots, unless it's someone that has utilised manual click farms.
7:33 pm on Jan 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Invalid clicks increased in January. For some of my clients it went up to 25% on Jan. 2nd, for others it topped on Jan. 11th at about 25%. After that it decreased. In Dec. it was mostly less than 5%.
Must be terrifying for G.
2:19 am on Jan 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Display network abuse, is for personal profit and those sites running ads can have their Adsense accounts canceled.

Abuse related to PLA's or traditional ads is pure sabotage, and is harder for Google to recognize if a reasonable amount effort has been put into the abuse.
7:41 pm on Jan 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Mobile apps on Display are horrid imo, but the rest of the AdWords ecosystem is outstanding! And I think "outstanding" is an understatement.