Google has just added a nifty tool to its Adwords tools portfolio, the ability to block IPs from seeing (and clicking) your ads. In your Adwords tools section you will see a link for ‘IP Exclusion’ which will allow you to put in IP addresses that you want to block from seeing your ads.
You should see something like this:
This is no doubt a response for the long time complaint from advertisers that “my competition is clicking on my ads to spend my money” and a welcome response in my opinion. This is not the answer many are seeking sophisticated click-fraud, but I suspect it will help make advertisers feel better and also eliminate a lot of the petty click-fraud that no doubt happens by less than ethical competitors.
There are two main reason why you should do this:
- 1. To prevent even the temptation of clicking on your ads by your competition.
- 2. To stop ad copy-cats.
The first one is pretty obvious, if you can help fight potential click fraud in anyway possible, Why wouldn’t you? The second reason may not be so obvious but you’d be amazed how often the competition will monitor your ads and see if you are up to anything new and copy what they like. I’ve personally seen this on ads I have written for competitive industries and its pretty annoying to say the least. Anything that I can do to keep them from seeing (and clicking) on my ads, even if only temporarily, I am more than happy to do.
The big question many people will face will be: How do I find my competition’s IP address? Off the top of my head I can think of three ways to do this. First, the most ethical way would be to analyze your log files and find IPs and hostnames that are associated with your competition and use a combination of trace routing and IP location finder applications. Here’s a free trace routing web app for you to use [link to IP tracing app.]
Secondly, use your analytics package to block a range of IPs that have not delivered quality traffic to your site. A slightly more risky way, as you may block future customers or people in a research phase of a buying cycle. I wouldn’t recommend this for most people
The third and maybe less ethical way, would be to use a little “social engineering” mixed with some web savvy-ness. You could use a blank unrelated domain and send an email and link to a few secretaries or employees of the competition, and nab their IPs, with log files, analytics software, or a small piece of code to output their IPs to a destination of your choosing. This method would probably be more accurate than the other twos but I’m sure people will have ethical questions about this type of competitive spying. I’d bet you could probably call someone in the company and ask them for their IP, which is not an uncommon way for hackers to compromise corporate networks.
However you decide to find out this information, I highly advise the use of this tool that Adwords has given us.
Read more in the Adwords Help here.