6 Signs That Your Ads Are Being Blocked by Competitors

In my previous article I wrote about how automatic scripts were used to block advertisements online. These manipulations create fictional visitor flow into your social networks, websites, e-shops and waste your advertising budget. Your ads are not shown anymore, and in their place competitors can put their own ads for a lower price. Now I want to elaborate on how you can detect manipulative activity and increase the effectiveness of your advertising investments.

If you are using metrics system to analyze your digital communication, it will not take long to detect if your ads are blocked by automatic scripts.

First of all evaluate the effectiveness of different advertising channels separately and the total communication effectiveness. This will help you identify the “suspicious” channel faster and see its influence. Bot activity creates rapid decline of effectiveness indicator values. You can also compare different time periods. Google Analytics can automatically send a message if indicator values exceed pre-set limits.

Qualitative metrics that can clearly show corrupt processes: ROI, CPA, CPS. If you use qualitative metrics (CPC, CPM or bounce rate), you should compare them to find the real cause of bad results, because it may have nothing to to with bot activity.

Virtually any company, not only e-commerce systems, can create and use metrics system to measure ROI. Meanwhile, CPC, CPM, CTR, bounce rate and other metrics can be found in Google Analytics account or AdWords reports. Let’s see how to analyze them.

Invalid Clicks

If Google detects bot clicks, the money spent on them will be refunded and reflected in AdWords report as Invalid Activity.

Netikri paspaudimai

Unfortunately, many publishers and even agencies do not show their clients this important metric. It does not mean that you should stop working with them. Instead, measure various qualitative metrics and then decide if they are acceptable for you.

High Invalid Click Rate

When this metric value comprises up to 20% daily budget, there is no need to worry. However, if it reaches 30-50% and up to 101 000 total clicks (example below), it is not normal.


Increased Count of Sessions, Decreased Number of Transactions

Compare the rate of session count and transaction count in your Google Analytics account and look for trends. A bot creates visitor visitor flow, but does not buy anything. Some bots are designed to fill in the forms and send fake enquiries. Such bots distort ROI, CPA and CPS metrics, so you should count fake enquiries and adjust values. In e-commerce systems, it is harder for bots to make fake orders because of authorisation and payment processes. Bot activity is signalled by increased visitor flow and, usually, decreased percentage of oders. A bot uses up daily budgets, set up in CPC or CPM campains, so in the end your website attracts less real visitors, even though statistics shows increased visitor flow.

Below you can see a chart that compares session and transaction count in AdWords campaign on the Display Network. On the right side, visitor flow created by bots was blocked. Consequently, sessions went down, and transaction percentage increased because of flow of a higher quality.

sesions vs transactions

Below is a remarketing campaign chart. As you can see, remarketing campaigns are more sensitive to bot activity than advertising on the Display Network based on context or interests. On the right side, again, invalid flow was blocked. Session count drops twice, and transaction number with 5000 visits is higher than it was with 17 000 visits. This is because the bigger part of daily budget was used to pay for real visitor flow.

Remarketingo kampanija

Increased/Very High Bounce Rate

When the bounce rate from a particular channel is significantly higher in comparison with other channels, this could mean bot activity. For instance, if your average bounce rate is around 50%, in the case of bot visitor flow it can go up to 90%.

Atmetimo rodiklis

Unusually Short Session Duration + High Bounce Rate

Another potential sign of bot activity – visits that are extremelys short, for instance, 1 second or less. Most often these visits are also paired with 90% or higher bounce rate.

Atmetimo rodiklis procentais

The principles mentioned above clearly show the percentage of high-quality visitor flow not only in AdWords, but also in any other type of digital advertising. For instance, if you buy ads in other platforms or directly from websites, a look at session duration and bounce rate can be enough to identify if your ads are being blocked.

Suspicious Website Names

You can use the chart above for an example of source websites generating many visitors with high bounce rate. Advertising account managers have to spend a lot of time analyzing flow sources and filtering websites that create low-quality flow. If you want to earn more from remarketing and banner campaigns, you will have to add new addresses to a black list on a regular basis to make sure your ads are not shown in them.

išfiltruotos svetainės

How to Prevent Wasting Advertising Budget

  • Measure not only quantitative but also qualitative metrics (e.g., ROI, CPA).
  • Look for metric changes more often.
  • Create automatic messages in cases when metrics deviate from predefined values.
  • Spend more time optimising your advertising campaigns.
  • Weed out low-quality websites and constantly update their list.

Google spend a lot of effort detecting fictional visitor flow and, if they manage to do this, you will be refunded money wasted by bots. However, keep in mind that if you place advertisements on other platforms, you will have to detect various manipulations yourself. In this case a properly set digital communication metrics system and correctly installed measuring tools are vital.