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Tackling Click Fraud at Its Root: Google Ads Advanced Location Method

Google Ads Guide

May 26, 2024

Google Ads Location Options Dashboard

Click fraud remains a significant challenge in digital advertising, draining budgets and distorting campaign performance. With extensive experience tackling this issue head-on for countless clients, we’ve observed that a two-part strategy is often required to combat click fraud effectively. One powerful technique within this strategy is precise location targeting in Google Ads, which leverages the limitations of VPN and proxy location accuracy.

The Click Fraud Challenge

Click fraud occurs when ads receive clicks from non-genuine sources such as competitors, bots, and spammers. These fraudulent clicks waste ad spend and skew data, leading to misinformed decisions and reduced ROI. While traditional methods of combating click fraud, like IP exclusions and click pattern analysis, are essential, covering all angles becomes crucial when under heavy attack.

How VPNs and Proxies Enable Click Fraud

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and proxies mask a user's true location by routing their internet traffic through servers in different locations. Fraudsters often use these tools to disguise their location, making it harder to detect and block their activities. However, this very tactic can be turned against them with precise location targeting.

The Power of Location Targeting

Location targeting allows advertisers to narrow their audience to specific geographic areas, displaying ads only to users located within those defined areas. Here’s how it combats click fraud effectively:

Inability to Pinpoint VPN Locations: When users employ VPNs or proxies, the location detected by Google Ads is based on the server location, not the user’s actual location. These servers are often situated in broader regions, not specific small towns, postcodes, or ZIP codes. Consequently, if the VPN or proxy server’s location does not align with your targeted areas, the ads will not be displayed. This precision effectively excludes a large portion of fraudulent traffic right at the source.

Advertisers can target larger areas by adding multiple smaller areas, ensuring comprehensive coverage while maintaining precision.

Implementing Location Targeting to Combat Click Fraud

While highly segmented location targeting is a robust strategy, it is best suited for cases where click fraud is a real concern. However, when applicable, it can be an effective tool for any business looking to protect its advertising budget and improve campaign performance. Here’s how to implement the strategy:

  • Configure Google Ads: In your Google Ads account, navigate to location settings and enter the specific areas you wish to target. Ensure you are precise and cover all relevant locations. Additionally, enable the targeting option for "Presence: People in or regularly in your targeted locations" to ensure you are reaching users who are physically present or frequently in those areas, rather than those merely interested in them.
Google Ads Location Targeting Options
  • Monitor and Adjust: Continuously monitor your campaign performance and be vigilant for any unusual patterns that might indicate residual fraud. Adjust your targeting as necessary to optimise performance.
  • Combine with Other Strategies: Use location targeting alongside other anti-fraud measures like IP exclusions, ad scheduling, and specialised click fraud detection software, such as ClickExpose, to create a robust defence system.

Balancing VPN Traffic and Genuine Visits

While eliminating VPN traffic can significantly help in combating click fraud, it is essential to consider the potential impact on genuine users. Many legitimate users use VPNs for privacy and security reasons. For instance, remote workers accessing company networks or individuals in regions with restricted internet access might rely on VPNs. Blocking VPN traffic could inadvertently exclude these genuine visitors from seeing your ads. Therefore, businesses should weigh the benefits of reducing click fraud against the possibility of missing out on legitimate traffic.

Real-World Impact and Support

By exploiting the inability of VPNs and proxies to provide precise location data, location targeting serves as an advanced strategy to eliminate click fraud at its root. This approach not only protects your ad spend but also enhances the accuracy and effectiveness of your advertising efforts.

For businesses facing severe click fraud issues, combining robust anti-fraud systems with precise location targeting can offer a comprehensive solution. To help businesses identify click fraud issues in the first place, ClickExpose offers a free-for-life monitoring plan. This plan allows you to monitor your ad traffic, detect suspicious activity, and take proactive measures to safeguard your advertising budget.

By implementing these strategies thoughtfully and leveraging ClickExpose's free monitoring tools, you can safeguard your advertising budget and achieve better campaign outcomes. Sign up for a free plan.

Ashley Phillips Profile Pic
Author: Ashley Phillips

Head of Strategy

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