GDN placements.. Can I have my $595 back now please Google?

Talk about falling through the cracks! This doozy which I believe is an awesome example of click fraud (hard to debate it) somehow got through Google’s fraud detection and straight into Jimmy’s wallet! However with some deeper research I exposed the culprits and even convinced a Google rep that I am right (As a husband… its been a while)

A bit of Background

So we decided to run a GDN campaign with some keyword targeting to generate some branding for Jimmy and also possibly some signups.

We kept it a little broad to get volume however had a relatively small budget of around $100 a day, just high enough to test the waters to see what it could deliver as well as small enough to run over a longer period of time to check multi level attribution funnels which I’m kinda obsessed with at the moment.

Results not as expected

After a week I didn’t really notice much of a volume increase in Analytics which is where we gauge all traffic. So insignificant was the increase, I completely forgot that we were running this campaign!

Out of interest today I jumped back into our Adwords account and saw that in September 2014 we received 1164 clicks from this new targeting and spent $595. 1164 clicks?

GDN Suspicious clicks

Oh crap! Wrong landing page!.. nope.. all good. Faulty Analytics! ah of course.. damn tag manager.. maybe I didn’t publish… nope. That was fine too. The search campaign matched up but this made no sense.

Something is Fishy

Hang on.. 0.50% CTR on a Keyword based GDN campaign? 46 Conversions?! This the best performing GDN campaign ever!! Well without the traffic or conversions that is.. who know where the went but who cares right?!

Digging a little deeper I discovered a placement which, if the placement reports are correct, is one of the most popular websites in the world! This one placement alone ate up most of my budget.. Look at those click through rates! Epic! Yeeow!

viralnova GDN placements

However lets check this out in Analytics.. same date range and I get….


42 clicks. 42. hmmm…. right. Should I still be giving this placement the benefit of the doubt.. Maybe they have 42 over zealous users who just really like Jimmy’s ads… especially the text ads because uno.. they are just so clickable. Let me just check out some detailed placements:


Thats right…

Go there… its super awesome!

I don’t know about you but when I see the words ‘affiliate’ in a placement url (using a url slug that has no relevance to any other slug on the website!) or 1 single placement (that doesn’t load mind you) bringing in all the traffic then I know something funky is going on. Considering I was actually only targeting Australia this must be the most popular page in Australia!

A quick email to my Google rep was due and thankfully, after some begging and pleading mind you, Google is currently looking into this ultra well performing campaign and will hopefully take some action (my money back would be fantastic as well).

Don’t worry big G.. your products are awesome but to Viralnova… not cool.. so not cool. Maybe it’s one of your affiliates.. maybe someone doing some fancy arbitrage but I’d love an explanation. Doubt I will hear one.

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