Media Insights

Is Your Agency Profiting Off Click Fraud Credits?

  • • As a brand, do you have an agency managing your AdWords account?
  • • Do you have access to your account?
  • • Are you running Google Display Network campaigns?
  • • Does the monthly spend in the AdWords UI equal the same spend on your agency invoice?

 
If you answered “no” to the second question, that’s a whole different issue. You should have access to your AdWords data. If you answered “yes” to all the above, I guarantee your agency is taking a higher margin for the AdWords campaigns than what’s in your agency agreement…. let me break it down for you.

By running display campaigns in AdWords, brands are exposed to fraudulent click activity. Don’t get me wrong. It happens in search and display. Display is just much more rampant. It occurs in AdWords, publisher direct buys, programmatic buys… everywhere. It’s the nature of the beast. The difference is buys outside of AdWords allow brands to layer on 3rd party ad fraud tools, like Integral Ad Science, designed to block bot activity. AdWords doesn’t have that. What it does have is an automated internal system that monitors and filters out invalid click activity, including spend in the UI. It even reports on the invalid click activity in a separate column in AdWords. What it doesn’t do is catch all invalid activity the first time around.

If evil bot traffic escaped their initial sweep but is found within a two-month window, credits are given to an AdWords account on their invoice. This is where you’re getting cheated out of media budget because that credit isn’t reflected in the AdWords UI. Here’s a real-world example:

One of our clients has been ramping up their display budgets the past two months since spring is a really big time of year for leads. In fact, 42% of their media budget is going towards display targeting in AdWords. That increase has led to a spike in fraudulent click activity the last two months. In fact, they’re getting a credit back to their media spend of 29% of their total media spend for this month. That means their April invoice from Google is 29% lower than what’s being reported in the UI. Because it’s a two-month window, AdWords can’t report on when, what campaigns, what placements resulted in the click fraud credits.

The plus side, it was caught, and we can reinvest a large portion of their budget into their campaigns. The sad part is a large portion of media agencies don’t account for this. They bill off of spend in the UI instead of what’s actually billed by Google. If Media Two did that, we would have a 29% increase in margin for that client. That’s just not right.

This isn’t difficult information to find either. In AdWords, all the information is housed under billing where you can see a daily breakdown of billable click activity and credits:

Transparency has been a hot ticket item over the past few years and rightfully so. As a media agency, we want to invest our clients’ media budgets in legitimate placements in order to hit their goals. As clients, brands want to make sure they’re getting what they paid for… it’s a simple concept. It’s been something that we’ve always done. Only recently have we found that it wasn’t standard practice in the industry. The next time you’re on a call with your agency team. Take a look in AdWords and compare spend with what has been billed. If it’s exactly the same, you might have a bigger problem than just a higher CPL for the month.


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