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S2 E4: Should You Use Click Fraud Tools in PPC? - with Ekta Gupta, Witrame - PPC Ponderings Podcast

S2 E4: Should You Use Click Fraud Tools in PPC? - with Ekta Gupta, Witrame - PPC Ponderings Podcast

10/25/19 UPDATE: Hello Facebook Agency Visitor Person!  We’re delighted to have you visit this awesome post. About a year ago, ZATO stopped offering Facebook Ads solutions so we could focus solely on what we do best: Google Ads. Because of this, we’re always interested in partnerships with great Social Advertising agencies (like yourself, wink wink!) and we offer referral fees for signed clients!  Anyway, back to it, and happy reading…

Post Summary

Ever wondered whether click fraud tools are worth it? Us too! So we had Ekta on to meet her, and quickly learned of her international experience with click fraud tools so thought we would take advantage of that knowledge and share it with you. Come listen to Kirk meet PPCers he doesn't know and chat about their expertise! We chat click fraud, how PPC is like gambling, and even a little about attribution.

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Guest Biography

Ekta Gupta is the Founder and Managing Partner of Witrame. After successfully managing more than $1.8 Million in Google Adwords, she is aware of the ins and outs of what it takes to do customer acquisition or get a return on what you have spent on advertising online. Ekta helps businesses with the following things:

1. Cutting down cost of Paid Advertising for the same result to get more Roas.

2. Increase the results with the lowered CPA.

3. Improve Conversions on your Landing Pages.

4. Help you with setting up GTM & GA4 along with other 3rd party tracking solutions.

5. Automations in your paid advertising.

Find Ekta on LinkedIn or on her website.

PSSST, hey you!

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Episode Transcript

Chris (Narrator) (00:02):

Welcome to season two of the PPC ponderings podcast. In this season, we're platforming people we don't personally know well. But who do know PPC well. Kirk is a big fan of making new friends, So look at these episodes as friendly chats between two new friends, learning about PPC together. Today, we join Kirk as he has a conversation with freelance PPC expert Ekta Gupta. Ekta joins us from India and chats with Kirk about how gambling can relate to PPC conversion attribution, and how to combat click fraud. So sit back, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy our conversation with Ekta.

Kirk (00:41):

Ekta, it's great to have you on the podcast. Thank you so much. And where are you joining us from?

Ekta (00:48):

I'm like really excited for this. I'm joining from India currently. Awesome. I am sitting in my hometown that is situated in Patna, so, yeah.

Kirk (01:01):

Very cool. So what time is it there right now for you?

Ekta (01:05):

Currently it's 8:37 PM

Kirk (01:09):

Okay, cool. Cool, cool, cool. Well, we are, we are in the morning. I'm just getting started with my day, so you're, you're wrapping it up. Thank you so much for, you know, being able to hop on, you know, kind of a different scheduling call there. really excited to, to meet you and to discuss, you know, some of the, the PPC questions as well as a little bit more about you. So, as we've been trying to do in these, you know, in these kind of short, short PPC pondering podcasts with strangers, interviews people, I don't know can you maybe start by giving us just a little bit of information about yourself? Like, like who, who is Ekta?

Ekta (01:45):

Yeah, sure. So if I have to define myself as a, like, as a person or as a character and I stand in a third person perspective, I would say this person is someone who likes to experiment a lot, because that's what I have done throughout my life. you can say that since the beginning. Like even when I was in high school, I was kind of experimenting a lot, even experimenting with the schools that I'm going, the colleges that I'm trying to pick. so I started, the whole thing started when I was in my high schools. I was completing it and I was almost about to like switch to the college and I was looking for different options that are all around there. And I happened to like miss that opportunity to get in a college. there were some issues in the documents and I also don't want it to like get in that college stuff again.


So that's why I started figuring out that what else can be done, basically to make money without getting an official formal degree <laugh>. And that's when I started like looking for different options. And that's when stumbled across the marketing and sales as a like, job thing. And I came to like get this exposure of completely different universe that existed and I was not aware that something like this existed in this planet. And I kind of started delving into that, that what is this? What is that? And that's how I got my first marketing gig that was managing a social media page for education like company or something. So that's where the whole thing started. And currently now, like almost six years in and I am working as a customer acquisition consultant. I work in both the realm of sales and marketing in marketing. I manage growth in PPC side and in sales. I usually look all the outbound data are text based. For example, you have cold emails, you have text based outbound. So all these kinds of things. And as a whole, if I would say I overlook all the revenue operations in a company. So that is like a brief introduction about me.

Kirk (04:05):

That's awesome. A a person with, with many skills and talents, <laugh> and knowledge. So, yeah. No, it's, it's great to meet you on your questionnaire. Like, you know, cuz we, we, you know, send over the questions to all of our guests and that you had mentioned kind of an interesting analogy that I kind of liked. I'm curious for you to talk a little more. You had said something like gambling and ppc marketing kind of are the same thing, like placing bats, that sort of thing. What do you, what do you mean by that? Like how, how is PPC similar to gambling?

Ekta (04:33):

Yes, it actually is because first of all based on the current situation, both are super unpredictable. You cannot predict a lot of what is going to happen. And especially after getting introduction of Pmax, it's like quite similar to that <laugh>. So that's that's the first thing. Apart from this, even if you say all the marketing or sales operations that any any marketer, salesperson, a freelancer consultant in-house person or anyone who manages, they all come up with some kind of hypothesis. They don't have a fixed thing that you can say that this is like a very firm process, a very fixed iterated process that will work every time until like there exists something like that. And based on the time, based on the market industries, verticals, everything's keep changing. And that's why it's quite similar to gambling. Even there you have like very less predictability of what is going to work. And you have to keep experimenting to kind of see some kind of pattern that, okay, first I got six and then two and something like that. And in the same way you experiment a lot with PPC, what kind of audience, what kind of placements, what kind of networks and all those things. So that's why I think it is, so

Kirk (05:55):

Yeah, I, I love that. I think that that is, that is a piece of the puzzle that I think I've changed on in my thinking over the years, and I've tried to communicate that better and better to clients that there is risk involved in marketing, right? I, I think, you know, kind of to your point, I think in the past, especially as agencies, but even in-house people, right? You're given, you're given certain metrics, you're given certain goals, and, and there's just kind of this expectation of, because I created this financial goal now, like you just need to figure that out and do that. and, and, and I'm not saying goals are wrong, but I think there is some level of risk that has always been in marketing and, and at times it seems like the companies that really have figured it out and actually seen like scaling in that, it's because they're willing to make those, those smart bets, right?


They're willing to, to put some money down that they might lose. They're willing to try that YouTube, you know, try to that crazy YouTube video that they're not quite sure if it's gonna work, and then it invests a lot of money into it. And then, and then absolutely, then, then that's that then like science and data works into that as well, for sure. To like minimize your bets. But like, I would totally agree, I think there's just a risk in marketing that is an important part of marketing that it's, it's maybe even necessary to accept. So yeah, I, I like, I like that you pointed that out, so that was cool.

Ekta (07:19):

Yeah. One more point that like just strike my mind is when I worked, so I worked as both like a lot of positions as an in-house marketer, as freelancer, as consultant, and now like moving towards, going towards like becoming an agency kind of thing. so what happens when you get certain company so in that you have different titles like CEOs, marketing head, and then all the roles. Now if you are going as an in-house person, the marketing head is, or the co-founder or co-founder is are the person who are going to set the goals for you. So they have the vision and you kind of align with that goal. They set the numbers or sometimes you both come up with the numbers to kind of work out in a campaign. And when you are going as a consultant or as a freelancer, you are supposed to get, have those numbers based on your experience.


So sometimes it's like you have to come up with some numbers, but there is no fixed thing that we are going to hit this when we do this. So it's kind of setting the bets, you play the dice and then see what is going to work or not. And that's how the whole thing has been going since, like, it all started from the time like it was direct mail and all those, and now it's digital advertising and soon it's going towards like all automated advertising kind of thing. So yeah, that's how I think the whole thing is going on.

Kirk (08:54):

I I, yeah, I would totally agree. Especially it's been interesting to watch the evolution, the change maybe in the space in regard to attribution in that re you know, in, in, in that instance because we watched kind of the digital world first get this concept of like click-based attribution, which is, hey, we can track what actually occurred in a visitor's in, in a visit, well, in a person's visits to our website, right? Where they came from and all that. And like I remember especially when that was such a big part of, wow, this is why digital is so awesome and this is so good. And I think there is, I think there is an element of that it does give more information, it does give more information than just like, Hey, there's a billboard sign out there and we're not fully sure what actually is going on, though we can trace some, you know, there are ways to trace some level with like geotargeting or specific products on the billboard or whatever, right?


But overall, there is more information and so that gives you more data to make better decisions on, for sure. But the, but the flip side is like, I, I just really think that we just asked attribution to tell us more than it actually could. So we would, we would think we had more information about people based, like solely on, on just like visit data, right? Like, just, just kind of like what they did and where they went to. And so it's been interesting, like, I, I've just observed, this is kind of just an, an aside, like a pondering just like the podcast. like I've, I've observed just this, this interesting evolution where like I, I feel like PPC went through PVRs went through kind of this like love and then realization of the limits of attribution before like a lot of brands. So I'm seeing like we've seen in the last year or so, a ton of attribution conversations in the, like the D2C world on social media.


And it's just really funny to me because a lot of times they're, they're talking about the exact same stuff that in PBC we were talking about like a few years ago. And that's totally okay. But it's, it is just interesting to me that I think more and more people are starting to realize the limits of attribution, especially as privacy works into that. And, and we're, we're increasingly gonna get back to your point of like, what is marketing and like making, you know, making wise, I hate to say bets, but in some ways, like, here's the data, here's our forecasting, here's the best bet that we can, and then at the end of the day, yep, let's risk some, let's risk some cash on it, see what happens. It might not work. And, and that doesn't mean that the person failed. That's because maybe it's just something to figure out and try again.


And like that's part of marketing is experimentation in that. So let's, let's hop into, I, I'd like to talk to you a little bit about some, I'm just curious, you know, you had mentioned something about click fraud. I'm a little curious to ask you about like your experience with click fraud and some of the things you've done about that. first like, I've gotta get my camera fixed because like now it's fuzzy. I don't know if you can tell, but it, it's supposed to be this fancy auto zooming thing and it <laugh> it drives me nuts. So anyways, while I'm trying to figure that out, maybe just walk us some of what you've learned about click fraud, some of your experience. Yeah, take us down that path please.

Ekta (11:59):

Sure. So this story is about like 2020 one last like around September, october. And I was working with some of the ppp some of the FinTech giants based in Europe. And they had like six figures plus budget in ad spend going on just on Google ads. And you have a lot of traffic to manage there. And that's when like I realized that some fishes going on because they were getting invalid clicks, which was like more than 13, 14% per campaign, and sometimes it's like 15 to 20% of invalid clicks. And that's when I realized that something must be fishy going on. and that's why we have like so many of these. So we talked to all the customer support that Google has, and they mentioned that the locations that from which we are getting these clicks are basically banned on Google ads.


So you have some locations like Iran, Iraq, South Korea, sorry, North Korea and all those locations which are basically banned in Google ads and you are not allowed to run ads on those location. And we were getting clicks just specifically from those locations. So I kind of sense that this is kind of click fraud thing going on. Some of some, or maybe one of our competitor have lost this fraud where you have various servers set up in these locations and all they do is click like search for all those search terms and click on this first, this can be happen. And second thing, maybe there are bots set up in all those location server and they are basically searching the terms, clicking on your ads and exhausting your budget on all these. So it was a huge thing to know because it was like almost exhausting 20 k, 30 k per month of Google Ads budget which was like huge for any company if you think about it.


So that's when I started looking into it. I like looked a lot into Reddit on Twitter, like asked the PPC chat that what's going on, what we can do, and I was looking into it, so I found some of the solution, which we can use to decrease that, but after trying everything, one thing was, sure, we cannot completely remove this thing, we have to face this. So I started looking for tools using which we can block ips some of them where like click guard and traffic guard and all those kind of tools, which basically lets you block the ips, which detect which has like certain criteria set in the tool itself, and you can basically remove those ips. So that's what I like did to manage and it came down to like 5%. It's not a huge thing if if you say like, we still were getting all those invalid clicks, but it decreased. So that's my take on anyone who is running with big budgets and high competition, especially in volatile markets. So you have cutthroat competition there and you have to make sure that you not only focus on your own thing while running PPC or any other campaigns, you also have to like, keep looking for what are the actions your competitors are taking, which could potentially affect what you are doing or your performance. So that's what happened. And that's the whole thing about Click product.

Kirk (15:36):

Did you primarily see it as an issue on like the Google display network, pmax, that sort of thing? Was it as much of an issue on like in like search and shopping campaigns or was it, was it more around like the gdn or

Ekta (15:50):

It was specifically for search and that was the most shocking part because few months later you, you have, you had like PMax launched and I also tried some of the PMax campaign and inva clicks like increased massively. so that was when from 10% it reach to like 20% and we decided to stop any kind of Pmax campaigns that was running for legion campaigns.

Kirk (16:18):

And so, and so, just so I'm clear, so you're seeing like the invalid click report in Google that you're trying to, you know, decrease Google gives those, those that money back. So, but did you find another benefit in trying to click fraud tool Tool as well? I, I like full transparency. You know, I've not, we've, we've tested a click fraud tool. Like we've, we've worked with them in the client and that who had, you know, contracted with them and that, and I, I just, I have to admit, like, I'm not really sure what I think about them to be honest. so this has been like helpful for me, so yeah. Yeah, I'm, I'm just curious. So were they actually like saving you money on that or were they just helping you reduce the invalid clicks, like to, to make your reporting and is I guess especially Yeah, just curious on that, why'd you go down the route of the two so

Ekta (17:07):

Road? Sure. So two things actually happened. First is Google returns some of the amount, but it didn't return all the amount that we spent on that mm-hmm. <affirmative> because of the location that we have set. they mentioned that since we are not responsible for these locations, we cannot return you any money back from the those, and we hadn't set any of those campaigns in those locations. So yeah, so money is first thing and when we use these tools, so yeah, we were able to save some like money on that part. But the second thing that also happened is the data that we getting is so in, in like big companies, one thing that you'll see is a big issue is data. You will find like so many difficulties in gathering those data mm-hmm. <affirmative> setting all those attribution, and especially if you're doing leads and kind of form campaigns.


Yeah. You have like so much skewed data going on. So for, for this particular company, we, we are getting all the data from the internal database called Hadoop, which was like the centralized Oracle kind of thing. And we were pulling out all the information from that. So we had the exact information, all the click IDs IPS locations, and we use this tool to like take all those locations and ips and kind of manually feed the tool with all these and then set the variables that if this thing happen you have to like block this. So it also helped us in reporting and attributing back to mm-hmm <affirmative> everything that is going on with PPC and then sales team because with Legion you have sales team involved as well to convert these people. So it helped in both the segments

Kirk (19:01):

That, that is really helpful. So even, I mean, I would imagine a lot of the click fraud and that is are using like dynamic IPs and that, but even, even excluding the IPS that you discovered, you, you saw those that invalid click rate drop significantly it sounds like. So, so it was doing the, the job, like the click fraud tools were working for you is what it sounds like?

Ekta (19:19):

Yes, that's correct.

Kirk (19:21):

Yeah. Yes. Wow, that's pretty cool. So they all need to send you like a care package or something because I know like there's a conversation all the time on social media about like is, you know, is click are click fraud tools a scam or like what's going on with that? and so that's helpful. We had, we had a, a client, most of our clients are us too, and it just doesn't seem, we're like, if we're just advertising the US doesn't seem to be quite as an issue right in, in those, those inva click rates. So it does seem to, there seems to be a geo the like a location based thing there to be aware of, but it is really helpful for anyone to hop into those reports just to see like what are your inva click rates in within Google ads the ui.


But we had a client that, you know, was, was larger in terms of traffic and that sort of thing. And I, I'm, I'm trying to remember like, I think over a 90 day period, maybe I'm not remembering correctly, I wanna say that they had excluded like a million ipss or something like that. It was like this, like massive amount <laugh> and it was like, like they're going at it, like they're, they're, you know, they're going at it change history wasn't, I feel like we, yeah, the change history helped. I think when they started changing the filtering too, where you could remove like IP changes from, from change history. Cuz that was another thing we had struggled with is we, we couldn't even tell what had happened in the account cause it was just, it was just all IP exclusions in our change history. but now they allow filters for that too. So anyways. Cool. I think that's all we have time for eta. thank you so much. Like, learned a lot. help me hopefully, you know, it was a, it was a fun chat for you as well. where, where can we find you online?

Ekta (20:58):

so currently you can find me online if you search for Witrame or the second thing where you can find me is at the rate one Ekta Gupta, that is Ekta Gupta. So you can find me on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on Instagram. Then my website is coming soon. So you can also check all the things that I do there. So yeah.

Kirk (21:26):

Awesome. Fantastic. we'll have all those links in our show notes. so thank you again. It was, it was fantastic to meet you and have a have a good rest of your evening.

Ekta (21:35):

Yeah, thank you very much. you too.

Chris (Narrator) (21:38):

We hope you enjoyed today's conversation. Stay tuned for the next episode of the PPC Ponderings podcast. Keep learning PPC. If you are a person with a brilliant PPC tactic that the world needs to know about, please apply to be a podcast guest online at If you're enjoying these podcasts, please make sure to leave us a review on whatever your preferred podcast provider is. But in the meantime, may the auctions be ever in your favor.

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Kirk Williams
Owner & Chief Pondering Officer

Kirk is the owner of ZATO, his Paid Search & Social PPC micro-agency of experts, and has been working in Digital Marketing since 2009. His personal motto (perhaps unhealthily so), is "let's overthink this some more."  He even wrote a book recently on philosophical PPC musings that you can check out here: Ponderings of a PPC Professional.

He has been named one of the Top 25 Most Influential PPCers in the world by PPC Hero 6 years in a row (2016-2021), has written articles for many industry publications (including Shopify, Moz, PPC Hero, Search Engine Land, and Microsoft), and is a frequent guest on digital marketing podcasts and webinars.

Kirk currently resides in Billings, MT with his wife, six children, books, Trek Bikes, Taylor guitar, and little sleep.

Kirk is an avid "discusser of marketing things" on Twitter, as well as an avid conference speaker, having traveled around the world to talk about Paid Search (especially Shopping Ads).  Kirk has booked speaking engagements in London, Dublin, Sydney, Milan, NYC, Dallas, OKC, Milwaukee, and more and has been recognized through reviews as one of the Top 10 conference presentations on more than one occasion.

You can connect with Kirk on Twitter, and Linkedin, or follow his marketing song parodies on TikTok.

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