How to Handle Invalid Click Objection

One of the most common objections from Vietnamese clients is Invalid click.
It’s so serious that many advertisers use it as an excuse for not using Pay per Click.

Before going straight to how to handle this objection i just want to give a brief understanding of this “Invalid Click” objection in Singapore context.
About 3-4 years ago, this objection was very common, especially amongst Small and Medium Enterprises. Since their monthly/daily budget was so small back then, they really concerned with invalid clicks would eat up a big chunk of their budget.
For example, if an advertiser’s monthly budget is $300, or $10/day, then with a Cost per Click of $0.5, he/she can only have 20 clicks per day. He/She is afraid that the competitors may click on the ads 5-6 times throughout the day, which account for 30% loss due to invalid clicks.

Having said that, my main point here is Invalid click is definitely a VALID concern. Yet, it shouldn’t be the main/only reason why advertisers decide not to use Pay per Click.

1. How Invalid Click concern makes sense in Vietnamese context:

 

  • Vietnam is a new market
  • There is no e-commerce yet and the majority of the advertisers’ websites do not offer any actions that can be fulfilled online. The main purpose of having a website is merely to publish information.

What i am trying to get to here is the commercial intent behind a click or the lack of it.

  • Because of the lack of commercial intent, Advertisers have no way of measuring whether the traffic to the site from PPC actually do them any good. Most Online marketing campaigns stop at either branding or increasing awareness.

Once the commercial intent behind each click is measured, advertisers can easily calculate Return on Investment of their marketing campaigns (be it display media, edm, ppc etc…) and being able to justify whether or not invalid click is still a big concern

  • Historically, some local media owners/agencies boosted up the number of clicks so some advertisers lost their trust on reports provided by media owners/agencies.
  • From what i heard (hearsay only) there seems to be some soft wares that are capable of “clicking” on clients’ banners, which again raise the issue of invalid/fraudulent clicks

2. What are invalid clicks

Most of the materials from now on are taken from Google Adwords Learning Center Invalid Click section or a Third party report “Alexander Tuzhilin’s report on Google Invalid Click
I would suggest you go through these materials to have a complete picture. Due to limited space, i only highlight some key points below.

Invalid clicks are clicks generated by prohibited methods. Examples of invalid clicks may include repeated manual clicking or the use of robots, automated clicking tools, or other deceptive software. Invalid clicks are sometimes intended to artificially and/or maliciously drive up an advertiser’s clicks and or a publisher’s earnings

If advertiser uses Google Analytics on their site then obviously Google will know all the post click data like bounce rate, time on site, page view/visit etc… hence i would imagine it makes Google job easier to filter out invalid clicks.

3. How to handle invalid click objection:

There are a couple of ways to handle this objection, a non technical and technical way.

Non technical way:

  • Google PPC program has been widely used in many countries, both in western mature markets like US, UK, AU or emerging markets like MY, TH etc…
  • Google PPC is very popular in Singapore and other Southeast Asia countries like MY, TH. Indonesia, Vietnam and PH are countries where the adoption rate is lower. However, PPC has become a common topic every time there is a seminar about Online marketing in Vietnam.
  • Google Adwords is used not only by MNCs like Citibank, HSBC, British Airways etc… but also by Small and Medium Enterprises, by Government agencies and private corporations, from finance to travel, consumer electronics to even “weird verticals” like private investigation firms …

This is clearly show how effective PPC is in delivering on advertisers’ objectives.

  • The bulk of Google revenue is coming from Advertising (be it Adwords platform or Adsense) so Google treats “Invalid click” very seriously.

Technical, detailed explanation:

Google uses the following process to combat invalid clicks

  • Detection and filtering techniques: Each click on an AdWords ad is examined by our system. Google looks at numerous data points for each click, including the IP address, the time of the click, any duplicate clicks, and various other click patterns. Our system then analyzes these factors to try to isolate and filter out potentially invalid clicks.

Many advertisers in Vietnam want to see the IP addresses of delivered clicks so let me explain more about this.
First of all, looking at IP address alone is not an ideal way to investigate invalid clicks.
It’s very common that many computers may share the same external IP address. It really depends on the service providers and how the network is being set up.

For example, if a company has 1000 computers, more often than not they don’t occupy 1000 different external IP addresses. Instead, many of these computers share the same external IP address. Small company most probably occupy only 1 or 2 external IP addresses.

Another example if Internet cafe or public hot spots, each device most probably does not occupy a unique external IP address either. One of the simple reason for this is that there are limited number of IP addresses being assigned for each country, each region etc…

Hence, even if you see from a report that from a particular IP address, there are 10 clicks in the last 1 hour, it does not mean those clicks are all invalid clicks.

  • Advanced monitoring techniques: Google uses a number of unique and innovative techniques for managing invalid click activity. We can’t disclose details about the software, except to say that we’re constantly working to expand and improve our technology.
  • The Google Team: In addition to our automated click protection techniques, we have a team that uses specialized tools and techniques to examine individual instances of invalid clicks. When our system detects potentially invalid clicks, a member of this team examines the affected account to glean important data about the source of the potentially invalid clicks.”

This team is real. The famous blogger, Matt Cutts, is from Google’s Webspam team.

Please take a minute and ask if any local media owners in Vietnam or international publishers (sites) actually set up teams to combat invalid clicks, meaning paying full time engineers and specialists to just look into how to improve invalid click filtering techniques.
If you are currently putting banners on those portals, sites then should you be alright with advertising using Google platform as well?

  • Please note that Google auto filters out invalid clicks before they appear on Advertiser reports, meaning that at the first round Advertisers do not get charges for Auto detected Invalid clicks by Google
  • Google provides Invalid Click report that you can run on a daily basis or any other unit of time

You can find this report by running an Account report and check the boxes next to “Invalid Click” and “Invalid Click Rate”

google invalid click report

These invalid clicks represent loss of revenue to Google. Let’s say if the invalid click rate is at 5-10%, this literally means a loss of 5-10% revenue to Google. From a business perspective, this is a very big percentage, which again shows the commitment from Google.

Besides, how many local media owners provide this type of report at this level of granularity. It would take a lot of effort to fake these numbers at an hourly level on a global platform for so many clients 😛

  • After the first round of auto detected invalid clicks, Google actually does check again based on its log file and refund advertisers if necessary.

google refund to advertisers due to invalid clicks

This is another measure by Google to show how serious they are regarding Invalid clicks.
Imagine how much efforts Google needs to put in in order to do this: developing algorithm to analyze log file, making sure that money being refund is justified from a business stand point because these are revenue loss to Google, a proper finance process need to be in place etc…

The same question for other local media owners, publishers applies here. Which media owners/publishers/portals actually refund advertisers due to invalid clicks? Further more, it’s not justifiable to argue that display banner incurs lesser invalid clicks as a percentage compared to Pay per Click either.

In short, while invalid click is a valid concern, i hope the above sharing is comprehensive enough to show that this concern shouldn’t be a barrier for advertisers to start using Pay per Click in Viet Nam. Google clearly puts in a lot of efforts to combat invalid clicks, in comparison to other media owners. But again, if you have any comments/feedback, feel free to email me at chandlerblog@gmail.com

Cheers,
Chandler

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