Google Ads has a click fraud problem, especially on its Display Network. These fake clicks enrich Google and the fraudsters, and cause massive losses for advertisers. In this article we explain the basics of click fraud, how to detect click fraud, and how to get click fraud refunds from Google Ads.
What is click fraud?
There are three main players in the online advertising ecosystem: advertisers, publishers, and ad networks. Advertisers pay ad networks to display ads on the internet, publishers display adverts and receive fees every time one of these ads is clicked, and ad networks sit in the middle, managing the entire process. As an example, Chanel might agree to pay Google Ads $20 every time someone clicks on one of their advertisements. Google Ads pushes Chanel’s adverts onto publisher websites, and every time an ad is clicked, Chanel gives Google Ads $20, and Google Ads shares this money with the publisher.
Unfortunately, criminal publishers are gaming the system by generating massive amounts of fake clicks on the ads at their scam websites. They do this using bots (software) which imitate humans clicking on ads. As long as the bots are well made, and the fake clicks remain undetected, the publishers receive payouts from Google Ads every month.
Google Ads tries to detect click fraud, however many fake clicks slip past their detection algorithm. These fake clicks cost advertisers money, with many criminal publishers making hundreds of thousands of dollars each month.
To learn more about click fraud, you can read our article What is click fraud?
How to detect click fraud?
There are numerous ways to commit click fraud, with the main technique being the use of bots which imitate people visiting websites and clicking on ads. For example, using Google’s bot product “Puppeteer” and a plugin called “Puppeteer Extra Plugin Stealth” for added stealth abilities, it’s possible to generate fake clicks on adverts which appear to come from real people. Additionally, by routing the bots’ traffic through residential proxies, the IP addresses of the clicks are disguised as genuine internet users browsing the web from their homes.
Figuring out how to detect this sort of click fraud, building systems to perform the detection, and maintaining the infrastructure to ensure round the clock protection is a complex and expensive task. It’s much easier, and cheaper, to use a click fraud detection service like Polygraph to do the hard work for you. Polygraph tells you which clicks are fake, why they’re fake, who did the click, and when it happened. Additionally, Polygraph tells you which of your ad keywords are being targeted by click fraud gangs, so you can adjust your keywords to avoid future click fraud.
How to get click fraud refunds from Google Ads?
Google Ads requires specific information from you before they’ll investigate your click fraud claim and provide a refund.
You need to provide your Google Ads' customer ID, a contact e-mail address, the affected ad campaign, and a brief explanation of why you’re requesting a refund.
Polygraph gives you the evidence you need to prove the clicks are fake. This includes the dates and times of the clicks, the IP addresses, and why the clicks are fraudulent. Additionally, Polygraph tells you the keywords associated with the fake clicks, as well as the affected ad campaigns.
Unlike some of our competitors, Polygraph only flags clicks which are unquestionably fraudulent, therefore Google Ads are not in a position to dismiss your refund request.
You can submit your refund request at https://support.google.com/google-ads/contact/click_quality
It's not difficult to get click fraud refunds from Google Ads, as long as you have supporting evidence for your claims.
By using a click fraud detection service like Polygraph, you can prove which clicks are fake, and get Google Ads to refund your wasted ad spend.