How to Prevent Click Fraud on Google Ads

Discover actionable strategies to safeguard your Google Ads from the costly impact of click fraud. Learn detection techniques, preventive measures, and real success stories.
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Something is not adding up with your ads’ performance on Google AdWords? You are getting a lot of clicks but few conversions? It might be PPC fraud.

As the most prominent digital marketing platform, Google Ads is constantly targeted by fraudsters. These malicious actors create fake ads to impersonate brands and mislead consumers. At the same time, they harm legitimate campaigns and businesses. 

The introduction of advanced technologies like PMax has escalated the problem because, while it allowed companies to promote their services and products across multiple channels, it has also shown advertisers that there are costly downsides. 

If you want to learn how to protect your ads, you have come to the right place. In this article, we are going to discuss some key aspects of click fraud prevention on Google Ads:

  • The most common types of click fraud;
  • The real impact of click fraud on your campaigns;
  • The best measures for PPC fraud prevention on Google AdWords;
  • Examples of companies that succeeded in detecting and preventing click fraud and how they did it.

Understanding Click Fraud on Google Ads

Click fraud corresponds to the practice of generating illegitimate clicks on PPC ads. It can be accidental or malicious. Malicious fraudsters usually aim to drain advertising budgets and skew performance metrics, such as KPIs, CTRs, conversion rates, and ROI. 

Some of the most common click fraud tactics targeting Google Ads are:

Manual Clicking: when individuals or organized groups manually click on ads repeatedly to exhaust budgets and diminish the visibility of legitimate ads.

Click Farms: often situated in regions with low labor costs, click farms are large-scale clicking operations generating artificial traffic and skewing performance metrics.

Competitor Sabotage: rival advertisers may resort to click fraud to sabotage rival campaigns to deplete their budgets and distort their metrics.

Bot Traffic: sophisticated bot networks simulate human behavior to generate fraudulent clicks, evading conventional detection methods.

Impact of Google Ads Click Fraud

Financial Losses

Click fraud drains advertising budgets by generating clicks from uninterested users. Advertisers have to pay for clicks that do not result in conversions, leading to wasted ad spend and reduced ROI. The financial losses incurred due to click fraud can be substantial. A report by Juniper has concluded that 22% of all ad spending in 2023 was lost to ad fraud, and that number is expected to rise in the next few years.

Reduced ROI

Click fraud skews performance metrics, making it difficult for advertisers to measure accurately the effectiveness of their Google Ads campaigns. As a result, the ROI of advertising spend is diminished. 

Distorted performance metrics

Fraudulent clicks artificially inflate engagement metrics and create a false impression of campaign success, leading to misguided decision-making and poor resource allocation. Advertisers may inadvertently optimize campaigns based on misleading data, further exacerbating the impact of click fraud on performance.

Trust and credibility

Click fraud undermines trust and credibility in the Google Ads platform, eroding advertiser confidence and tarnishing the reputation of digital advertising ecosystems. Advertisers rely on Google Ads to connect with potential customers and drive business growth, but click fraud threatens the integrity of this relationship.

Preventive Measures for Google Ads

Implement IP Exclusions

Monitor the IPs of users who click on your ads and look for the ones with suspicious behavior, like showing up several times without converting or having high bounce rates. Then, block them from seeing your ads in the future. 

To set up exclusions, navigate to your desired campaign in Google Ads, click on the “Settings” tab, locate the “Advanced settings” sections, and click on “IP exclusions." Enter the specific IP address you want to exclude, separated by commas if excluding multiple addresses. 

If you detect multiple fraudulent IP addresses, consider opting for an automated solution like Spider AF that uses cutting-edge technology to identify and block unwanted lurkers. 

Monitor Click Activity Closely 

Google Ads provides reports that include click data, and despite Google’s automatic filters against suspicious clicks, you can analyze these reports to review click data and identify potential fraudsters. 

Utilize the report editor in Google Ads. Include "Invalid Clicks" and "Invalid Click Rate" and look for sudden spikes in clicks, clicks from unusual locations, or clicks with minimal time spent on your landing page.

Set up conversion tracking in Google Ads to measure actions like website sales or leads generated from your ads and the effectiveness of your campaigns. 

To access these reports, access the “Campaigns” tab and click on “Insights & reports”. Utilize the “Predefined reports” option to explore the sections that include click data, such as “Campaign details”. 

You can also create a custom report using the “Custom” option and include metrics like “Clicks”, “Impressions”, and CTRs to monitor traffic patterns. 

Explore Smart Bidding Strategies

Leverage Google's automated bidding strategies, like Target COA or Target ROAS. which optimize bidding based on historical data and real-time signals. 

These strategies help mitigate the impact of PPC fraud on campaigns. Overly high bids attract fraudsters looking to exploit expensive clicks. Conversely, low bids reduce the competitiveness of your ads and might even fail to reach genuine users. 

Finding a balanced bid strategy based on your goals and industry benchmarks can help prevent fraudsters from targeting high-value clicks or exploiting low competition. 

To choose a bidding strategy, click on the “Settings” tab within your chosen campaign on Google Ads, locate the “Bidding” section, and select the bidding strategy that suits you better.

Geotargeting and Device Targeting

Focusing your ad exposure on relevant locations and devices can help you reduce the risk of click fraud. 

There are specific regions associated with PPC fraud - usually countries with low labor costs considered click farm zones. Consider excluding these locations to safeguard your ads. 

If you suspect a competitor’s involvement in click fraud, you can also exclude their location. But be careful to use these exclusions only if you have a strong suspicion that most clicks from these areas are fraudulent. 

Similarly, pay attention to the activity from specific devices, as it can also indicate click fraud. For instance, suspicious activities from mobile devices can mean bots are using mobile emulators to harm your ad performance.

To exclude locations or devices, navigate to your chosen campaign in Google Ads, click on “Settings” and then “Locations”. Choose “Manage locations manually”. Then, enter the specific countries, regions, or postal codes where you want your ads to be shown or hidden.

Google Analytics Integration

Integrating Google Analytics adds another layer of defense against fraudulent activity. 

In addition to tracking your ads performance and keywords, with Analytics, you can analyze traffic sources, user journeys, and conversion paths to identify anomalies that may suggest click fraud.

Linking both platforms can provide crucial information about the relationship between clicks and conversions. Analyze click data from Google Ads and conversions from Google Analytics, and if you find significant discrepancies between them, you might be having fraud issues.

Using Analytics also helps identify fraud patterns that might go unnoticed in Google Ads reports, as it offers more data about user behavior. 

To link your Google Ads account to Google Analytics, sign in to your Analytics account and navigate to the Admin section. Then, click on “Tracking info”, followed by “Property Settings”. Locate the “Google Ads Linking” section and follow the on-screen instructions to link your Ads account. 

Use Specific PPC Keywords

Target industry-specific keywords and reach a specific audience to produce genuine traffic that increases conversion rates.

Click fraudsters tend to target generic keywords to capture a wider net, so choose keywords that reflect the intent of your target audience. 

Use Google Ads’ match types to control how closely your keywords should match user searches. Narrow match types like phrase or exact match can help reduce irrelevant clicks. 

In addition, you can create a list of negative keywords, that is, keywords that you do not want to relate to your ads. They can help prevent invalid clicks by leaving out users who search for something different. 

Then monitor keyword performance within Google Ads reports and analyze metrics like CTR and conversion rate for each keyword. Unexplained spikes in clicks or minimal conversions on specific keywords could suggest click fraud. 

Remarketing Campaigns

By showing ads only to users who have already manifested interest, you can steer clear of click fraud because disinterested users will not see these ads. 

Since remarketing targets users already familiar with your brand, you are more likely to attract genuine clicks and not fraudsters. This leads to higher conversion rates and better ROAS.

Use Independent Fraud Detection Tools

While Google Ads offers robust built-in click fraud detection mechanisms, a 2022 report found using third-party click fraud detection tools can significantly improve campaign performance. 

The report suggests that a campaign leveraging these tools can see a 19% increase in impressions and a 15% increase in CTR. 

This shows that detection tools can not only help you reduce ad waste but also improve your ad performance. Gentle Renegades illustrates this reality perfectly: working with third-party detection tools allowed them not only to decrease the number of invalid clicks but also to improve other areas of their business by analyzing several key metrics. 

Third-party solutions go beyond Google’s filters to identify complex click fraud patterns that might go unnoticed by traditional methods. For example, using Spider AF technology, ALL CONNECT, Ltd found that 20% of their ad clicks were invalid. 

These detection tools can also provide faster response time through real-time click data monitoring, generating instant alerts for suspicious activity. This allows you to react quickly and potentially mitigate the impact of click fraud before it inflates your budget. 

Case Studies and Success Stories 

Maximizing Performance Max ROI with Spider AF

The seasoned Performance Marketer SavasTutumlu, leading acquisition marketing efforts for renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Ayberk Akcay, has relied on Spider AF to improve his digital marketing endeavors with efficient PPC fraud protection.

Within the trial period of just three days, Spider AF uncovered an alarming $2,894 of ad expenditure lost to placements on irrelevant websites, resulting in 106 fraudulent registrations. This discovery revealed the urgent necessity for robust fraud prevention measures and optimization strategies to safeguard their digital campaigns.

Spider AF identified and addressed issues with Savas Tutumlu's PMAX campaigns, detecting 490 fraudulent placements. Additionally, since he started to use Spider AF, there has been a 14% reduction in CPA and a 12% increase in CVR.

Saison Fundex: Utilizing Spider AF to Combat Ad Fraud

Saison Fundex is a financial services company operating in personal and corporate financing as well as real estate finance. 

The company discovered that a significant portion of its advertising expenses was being wasted due to clicks from bots and other fraudulent activities. Saison Fundex decided to adopt Spider AF, an ad fraud countermeasure tool, to address the challenges they faced. 

After implementing Spider AF, Saison Fundex gained complete visibility into the breakdown of ad fraud damage: over 6% of their advertising spend was affected by ad fraud, resulting in ineffective ad distribution. 

Within a month of working with Spider AF, the ad fraud rate improved significantly.

The company was able to submit reports of the ad fraud information detected by Spider AF to the ad network, resulting in partial refunds of their ad spend. They also discovered a high number of clicks from competitors, allowing them to identify and block inappropriate clicks.

Tackling Ad Fraud at a Large E-commerce Company: A $75 Million Story

The e-commerce giant struggled with two major issues: inadequate understanding of the real magnitude of ad fraud affecting its campaigns and inconsistent and sporadic peaks in invalid click rates, sometimes surpassing the 10% mark. This translated to potential losses of nearly $4.76 million from their $23.8 million advertising budget.

To tackle these obstacles, the company adopted Spider AF, and it served as a revelation, unmasking a higher degree of ad fraud than anticipated. 

These valuable insights enabled a comprehensive evaluation of their advertising campaigns, thus facilitating data-driven decisions. 

Thanks to Spider AF, the company noted marked improvements in their ad campaigns. In addition to a substantial increase in refunds from multiple media platforms, the company was able to decrease expenses by excluding fraudulent IPs and automatically eliminating misleading ad placements. 


Click fraud is a constant threat for Google Ads advertisers, silently draining your budget and hindering your ability to reach real customers. 

But PPC fraud detection on Google AdWords is just a few simple but effective measures away. From leveraging Google Ads' built-in features like geotargeting and click monitoring to exploring advanced detection offered by third-party tools, the key lies in a multi-layered approach. 

In addition, data-driven decision-making is a crucial click fraud prevention measure. Utilize Google Analytics to identify suspicious patterns and explore the power of strategic keyword selection and bidding strategies. Remarketing campaigns also offer an additional shield by focusing on users already familiar with your brand.

By proactively implementing these measures and tracking your click patterns, you can successfully decrease the impacts of PPC fraud.