Success Stories Of Marketers Solving Digital Ad Fraud - Forbes

Success Stories Of Marketers Solving Digital Ad Fraud - Forbes

Success Stories Of Marketers Solving Digital Ad Fraud - Forbes

Posted: 24 Jun 2020 02:09 AM PDT

Time for some good news. Marketers can reduce digital ad fraud in their own campaigns without paying for expensive fraud detection technologies that don't work most of the time anyway. This article is not about how to do that yourself. It is to show you that other marketers, including small businesses, were successful in reducing fraud in their campaigns by looking more closely at analytics and business outcomes themselves. 

Small Business "A" Beat Click Fraud Using Google Analytics

Judy had run many Google Adwords campaigns over the years. But one that she just turned on caught her attention, because her Google Analytics showed a 100,000% increase in Android mobile devices hitting her site. These were clicks coming from the campaign she just turned on. Further, the analytics showed that these clicks resulted in no goal completions at all — i.e. none of this additional traffic "converted." But the large influx of traffic completely skewed her metrics. The conversion rates dropped severely because the number of sales (numerator) didn't change, while the number of hits to the site (denominator) increased drastically. This would have been enough to turn off that campaign right away. 

But she dug a bit deeper to check her own findings. Her Google Analytics further revealed that these visitors stayed on the site less than 2 seconds, bounce rate was in the high 90s, and looked at only the page they landed on. These visitors could not have been humans who were genuinely interested in her product, and clicked on the ad, intending to come to her site to learn more and possibly make a purchase. With these confirming details, she turned off the campaign within days and reported her findings to Google. Happily, she got a refund for the entire amount that she had already spent. 

Her campaign was a paid search campaign, run through Google Adwords. What she didn't know at the time was that by leaving the "Include Google search partners" checkbox checked, her ads were being shown on sites outside of These sites run paid search ads using Google technology and they get a cut of the ad revenue. This creates the opportunity for click fraud, where they use bot traffic to click on the ads so they can inflate their own ad revenues. The Android bots Judy saw were doing exactly this - clicking on her ads and coming to her site. They drained her budget, but were not real customers, or human for that matter. 

Marketers can learn from Judy's success story and consider carefully whether to leave search partners turned on or Google display network turned on, for these reasons. 

Small Business "B" Improved Outcomes in His Facebook Campaign

Matt is a small business owner and musician. He sold music and merchandise through his own website. Matt had been running Facebook ads for five years, but he ran into a severe problem that he could see with his own eyes, in his analytics. He observed that Facebook would report X number of clicks on his ads, but his own site analytics would only show 1/10 that number — i.e. a 90% discrepancy. This was not always the case. At the beginning of the 5 year period, the clicks on his Facebook ads were converting relatively well — they bought his music and merchandise when they arrived on his website. But over the course of the 5 years, he got more and more impressions and more and more clicks. But the rate of sales (# of sales to # of clicks) kept going down and the discrepancy between his site analytics and Facebook's reported clicks kept going up, until it reached the 90% discrepancy mentioned above. 

Turns out, over the course of the 5 years, the number of ads that appeared on Facebook versus the number of ads showing on sites outside of Facebook (Facebook Audience Network) completely flipped. By the end, about 90% of his ad impressions were shown on outside sites. He got tons of impressions and tons of clicks, but much lower conversions to sales. When he unchecked the checkbox for Audience Network and limited his ads to only Facebook and its main apps like Instagram and Messenger, his sales started coming back. Of course, he got far fewer impressions and clicks, but most of those were wasted (likely fraudulent) anyway. 

Marketers can learn from Matt's success story and consider carefully whether to leave Audience Network turned on, for these reasons. 

How you can reduce ad fraud in your own campaigns by using common sense and analytics.

MORE FROM FORBESCan You Optimize Digital Ads With A Pinch Of Common Sense?

Google Gives Businesses Free Ads in Google Maps - Search Engine Journal

Posted: 22 Jun 2020 01:51 PM PDT

Google Ads is rolling out promoted pins to smart campaign advertisers and making them completely free to use for the next few months.

Through September 2020, smart campaign advertisers with a Google My Business listing will not be charged for clicks, calls, or sales generated from promoted pins.

Promoted pins help business stand out in Maps by highlighting specific services and unique offerings such pickup, delivery, curbside pickup, and more.

Google Gives Businesses Free Ads in Google Maps
Google Gives Businesses Free Ads in Google Maps

"Every month, over 1 billion people use Google Maps to see what's around them, search for businesses, and find directions. Promoted pins on Google Maps help your business stand out during these moments by displaying a prominent, square-shaped Google Maps pin."

Google is offering promoted pins for free in an effort to assist small businesses that are now in the process of reopening after lockdown.

Google has already started rolling out promoted pins to smart campaign advertisers with a Google My Business profile, and they will be fully available in the coming weeks.

Other New Features for Smart Campaigns

In addition to promoted pins, Google Ads is enhancing smart campaigns with the ability to sign up from any device, see results directly in Google Search, and control when ads are shown.

Sign up in the mobile app
Google Ads advertisers can now sign up for smart campaigns and run ads directly from the Google Ads mobile app.

Google has made the sign-up process faster and easier, saying advertisers can now get their smart campaigns up and running in as little as 15 minutes.

In-app signup is currently available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and Japan, with more countries to follow.



Google Gives Businesses Free Ads in Google Maps

This update is available in the Google Ads app for iOS and Android.

Monitor smart campaign performance in Google Search
Google Ads is making its reporting features more accessible by allowing advertisers to view their performance directly in search results.

"With a quick search, you can instantly see the status of your Smart campaigns, how they're performing, and how your ads look to potential customers."

Google Gives Businesses Free Ads in Google Maps

To utilize this feature, simply search for "My Ads" or "Google Ads" while signed into the Google account you use for Google Ads.



This will be available to all Smart campaign advertisers in the coming weeks.

Control when ads are shown
Google Ads is giving small businesses running smart campaigns more control over keywords they want their ads to show up for.

This means ads have a greater potential to reach more of the right people while saving time in the process. Advertisers will also have the option to modify or remove keyword themes.

Google Gives Businesses Free Ads in Google Maps

Keyword themes will be fully available to everyone using Smart campaigns in the coming weeks.

Source: Google Ads Help

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Google Ads’ Policy Crackdowns Continue - Search Engine Journal

Posted: 15 Jun 2020 01:31 PM PDT

It's been a busy few weeks for Google Ads and their policy updates. Today, two more are added to the list: account pausing for violations and additions to their Misrepresentation policy.

Account Pausing Due to Violation

The statement is somewhat vague, and oddly lumped in with an update about the identity verification program. This is curious, given the policy language, which is "we may temporarily pause accounts to conduct investigations if we identify potentially harmful advertiser behavior. Paused accounts cannot run any ads."

It notes the same action will be taken for accounts that do not complete the identify verification process.

Google has announced the same day that identity verification is rolling out to 4 new countries: Canada, India, Russia and Ukraine.

Misrepresentation Policy

Also announced today are interesting updates to their policies surrounding "misrepresentation."

Starting in July, there will be a "Clickbait Ads" policy. It will specifically address instances of sensationalized text and imagery that's forces the viewer to click on the ad in order to understand its context. Ads participating in that type of behavior will not be allowed to run.

What does this mean, exactly? Here is how Google defines these types of ads:

Clickbait text and imagery:

  • Claims of secret or scandal revelations
  • Language that implies the click will give context (i.e. "click here to find out" or other similar phrases)
  • Imagery featuring altered body parts, mugshots and disaster photos
  • Before and after imagery of the human body

Negative life events to evoke emotion that causes action:

  • Events can include things like accidents, illnesses, bankruptcy, arrests, etc
  • Ads using imagery to provoke fear or shock

Google does not provide specifics on how these items will be identified, whether by AI or human.

Who Will This Affect?

Quite a few industries, especially those that sell to solve the types of problems outlined above. Law firms, bail bonds, diet pills, exercise equipment, and many others may be relying on messaging that will now violate these rules.



Some of these are crossovers with Facebook ad violations, so in those instances advertisers may be ready with alternate creative messaging already.

For those who are not, they have only a few weeks to figure out alternative creative treatments.

What's With All the Policy Updates?

While there's been no formal statement or lawsuit that would seem to point to all these policy updates, it's hard to ignore how many there have been.

Just last week, Google followed suit with Facebook's previous mandate about targeting capabilities for housing, credit, and employment advertisers.

Google also recently announced a business identify verification requirement, so all advertisers will need to submit identity proof. That verification time was shortened less than a month ago.

The environment has been ripe for policy updates with the scramble to address restrictions made with Covid-19. Stories are still popping up of ads showing misinformation on platforms, along with recent discovery of Google Ads serving advertiser display creative on sites with untruths.



Some of it also may have to do with Google's push to try and start dominating more in the TV landscape, and its latest foray into grabbing some of the top of funnel paid social budget that gets eaten by Facebook and Instagram. Facebook has taken its lumps with its privacy and targeting concerns, and no doubt Google has been paying attention.

The latest policy updates cited here are located on their policy updates page.


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