Imagine the following: You have put time and effort into keyword research. Your digital agency created the perfect landing page and optimized it even further to get a good quality score in Google Ads. Your copywriter has written the most attractive ad text for your campaign and the budget is also approved. You are ready to launch your new Google Ads campaign!
After launch, you eagerly await the first new customers to sign up for your product or services. The click numbers are steadily increasing, but the conversions are not keeping up. You check and tweak every setting in your Google Ads account, but still your conversion rate is dropping rapidly every day.
After talking to your IT and analytics team, the scales fall from your eyes: You are a victim of invalid clicks! The clicks that Google Ads reports do not come exclusively from real people, but from automated software bots. Of course, these bots have no interest in your product or service and therefore cannot convert.
Every day, companies that place ads on Google experience a similar situation. Running ad campaigns on Google can be expensive, even if you are a small business. A successful PPC campaign can quickly cost several thousands in ad spend.
Although Google has taken various measures to combat click fraud, 11% of clicks on search ads and 36% of clicks on display ads are fraudulent or invalid. So for every $5 spent on advertising your product or service, $1 goes into the fraudster’s pocket.
If you believe you have been a victim of click fraud or have noticed fraudulent behavior in your campaigns, you should submit a Google Ads refund request.
In this article, we will walk you through all the steps to submit a refund request. We will also give you a few tips on how to increase your chances of getting your claim approved, since only 20 to 25% of claims will actually get a refund.
Before you can claim a refund from Google, you need to make sure that you collect the right data and information to prove that you are eligible. This step is crucial to your success and you should not take it lightly. Google will only provide you with a refund if your data is enough evidence to indicate invalid traffic.
Also, you should not just submit your entire ad click history and hope that Google will do the work for you. In fact, it will significantly reduce the chances of getting a refund.
You need to spend time and effort sifting through your data and campaigns because Google asks for very specific information. The burden is on you to provide the correct data and all the evidence.
Also remember: You can request a refund from Google every 60 days. Therefore, it is critical that you provide all the correct data.
Besides invalid clicks from bots, there are other reasons for which you can request a refund from Google Ads. The most common are:
In each of these cases, you must provide Google with the same information. Just be sure to explicitly tell Google the reason for your refund request so that the investigation can be conducted as efficiently as possible. Google employees are permanently under pressure, so make it as easy for them as possible.
As for invalid clicks, you should pay attention to the following in your reports:
Before you can submit a Google Ads refund request, you need to collect a number of details. In particular, the Google Ads refund form asks for the following information:
As you can see, this is a long list of required information that takes a lot of time to compile and fill out. In addition, it often takes Google several weeks (up to six weeks) to process each request, and there is no guarantee that you will actually receive a refund.
Unfortunately, this is the only way to request a Google Ads refund.
Please note: You should take the data collection step very seriously. Not only can you request a refund only once every 60 days, but Google may remove your ability to request refunds in the future if the information you provide is incorrect or insufficient.
Probably the most important thing you should include with your refund request is a list of suspicious IP addresses.
By default, Google Ads and Google Analytics do not record the IP address of users who have clicked on your ads, as they are classified as personal data under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If you do not use other analytics software, you will need to dig deep into your server log files. Talk to your IT department to get the full data set.
Next, you just need to identify the users who came to your website through one of the affected ad campaigns. This can be done either via specific landing page URLs or via URL parameters that you have attached to the campaigns.
The last thing you should do is look for repetitive IP addresses in the remaining data set. IP addresses that appear several times a day over a long period of time are most likely fraudulent and therefore invalid.
As an additional step, you can also look up the suspicious IPs using an IP address lookup tool:
If any of the IP addresses in your data set appears in a blacklist, there is a good chance that the IP address has some suspicious behavior and could be linked to a botnet.
After you have successfully submitted the form, you can only wait for Google’s response. Google will notify you if and when your claim is approved. You will also be able to see the returned credit under the tab “Transactions” → “Adjustments” in the billing area of your Google Ads account.
It is important not to get your hopes up too high, as only 20-25% of refund requests are actually refunded. Furthermore, only about 10-15% of each claim is actually refunded, so the overall refund rate is just under 2% of spend.
Instead of retroactively trying to fix the damage done to your campaign budgets by invalid clicks from fraudsters or your competitors and relying on Google’s goodwill, you should take proactive precautions to protect your ad budget.
You may not even know how many fraudulent clicks your ad campaigns receive, losing hundreds or even thousands every month.
Although Google claims to have various mechanisms in place to protect you, these measures are not nearly enough to deal with the volume and persistence of some fraudsters.
Let us be honest: it is unrealistic to fill out Google’s form every time you need to claim a refund. Not only is there no guarantee of a refund, but you are also wasting precious time on something that can be prevented.
Our real-time anti-fraud solution excludes fake traffic from all your media buying channels like Google Ads, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram before fake traffic eats up your advertising budget.
It’s time to stop worrying about fraudsters and focus on your potential customers.
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