Over the past year, we’ve written about invalid clicks to let you know about the new invalid clicks report and provide answers to some of the most frequently asked invalid click questions. Now, we want to introduce you to the Click Quality team, who investigates your invalid click concerns. This team has been around for over three years and they provide protection in addition to our automated filters, which proactively identify invalid clicks and discard them before they make it into your account. Today, Julian from the Click Quality team joins us to let you know how you can request an invalid clicks investigation and shares some of the common suspicious click concerns that his team sees and how you can monitor them:

Working on the Click Quality team, I’m one of a number of people who investigate suspicious traffic to determine if invalid click activity has occurred. These thorough investigations analyze a number of factors, including IP address, duplicate clicks, and various other clicking patterns. It is rare that invalid clicks are not detected by our automatic filters, but when we find them we immediately credit the advertiser's account. If you'd like us to investigate suspicious activity in your account, please fill out this form. If and when you do, providing detailed information, such as your web logs, will greatly assist with our investigation, so we ask that you include any reports indicating suspicious IP addresses, referrers, or requests. Our team will respond to you as soon as we complete our investigation of your account. And, please be patient, as a thorough investigation can take 3-5 business days.

Our job is to look into advertiser concerns and complaints and we’re happy to answer any questions you have. However, before submitting an investigation request, you may want to do a little checking on your own because, over the years, we've found that in many cases the activity that the advertiser has pointed out isn't actually due to click fraud. I've provided a list of some of the more common concerns below, along with tips and tools to help you better understand and monitor suspicious activity in your account.

Concern: I’ve seen huge fluctuations in my spend, traffic, or ROI.
  • Review your account to see if you’ve made recent changes to your daily budget, maximum CPCs, or ad distribution preferences. Making changes to any of these can increase your reach and change your conversion rate as new visitors may have different buying patterns.
  • Traffic on the Google content network can also fluctuate from day to day as your ads match new sites. To better control your spend on the content network, make sure that you implement content bids or set up a separate campaign that is targeted just to the content network.
  • If you're not currently tracking your conversions, we recommend that you use a conversion tracking tool, such as Google conversion tracking or Google Analytics, in order to monitor your ROI.
Concern: There are discrepancies in my web logs.
  • You may have noticed that the clicks in your web logs are different than the number of clicks that are reported in your account. If you find that there are fewer clicks reported in your web logs than in your account, we suggest that you run an invalid clicks report because many of your clicks may have been automatically filtered.
  • If you've seen more clicks in your account than in your web logs, make sure that your tracking software is counting clicks from the Google Network. You can can make sure your tracking URLs are set up correctly here. Or, you can use auto-tagging to more easily identify AdWords clicks in your web logs.
Concern: I have multiple clicks coming from the same IP address.
  • There are several legitimate reasons that you may see multiple clicks from a single IP address in your web logs. For example, if a user refreshes their browser after clicking on your ad, this may appear as multiple ad clicks in your logs, however, you are only charged for one click. Also, some service providers, such as AOL, assign the same IP address to a large number of users, so multiple users visiting your page may appear as a single IP (or a few very similar IPs).
  • In order to determine if clicks from the same IP address are unique, you can use auto-tagging. Auto-tagging will show you if multiple clicks were the result of a user refreshing their browser or if they represent a new click on your ad.
Concern: My competitors are clicking on my ads.
  • Our filters are able to recognize the vast majority of invalid clicks that come from a competitor who is repeatedly clicking on your ads. These clicks should be filtered out before they reach your account so you will not be charged.
  • To determine the number of clicks that we've automatically filtered from your account, you can run an invalid clicks report.
I hope this list will help you better determine if suspicious clicks in your account are legitimate, or invalid. As I mentioned earlier, if, at any point, you'd like us to investigate suspicious activity in your account or have any questions, please get in touch with us.