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Call Only Ads = 80% Invalid Click Rate - Google Refuses to Fix

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

I specialize in driving phone calls to drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers. I've been running ads on my account for the past 6 months, spending $50k+ per month. Until about 2 months ago, Call-Only ads were serving wonderfully. On average the invalid click rate was less than 20% on all campaigns. Starting around the beginning of April, the invalid click rate has exploded across the account. Now getting as high as 95%, but across the account it's 80%. Eighty Percent.

 

Now I realize Google has algorithms that detect invalid activity and doesn't charge you for them. Even if their initial sweep doesn't pick up everything, they sweep the account a second time and add credits to the billing section if anything is detected. 

 

The problem is that with an invalid click rate so high my budgets explode every 20 min or so to 2x the actual budget, causing ads to not serve until Google sweeps the account and deems the clicks invalid, the clicks are removed, and my budget can reset. This is causing major ad delivery problems.

 

I've spoke to Google on the phone about this issue at the minimum of 10x. They say they can't do anything about it. Um what? You can't prevent fraud on your own platform?

 

How can anyone even use this ad type if they can't control the bot situation (it's certainly bots, as the CTR is 100% and I don't ever see a phone call)?

 

Has anyone else seen invalid click rates this high? What do you do about it? Obviously I can't get IPs and block them, as it's impossible to get an IP from a phone number (no calls hit my line anyways).

 

I find Google's response completely unsatisfactory to the situation. 

1 Expert replyverified_user

Call Only Ads = 80% Invalid Click Rate - Google Refuses to Fix

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Has anything else changed? I'm thinking that a higher ad position could be a factor if bots aren't the issue...

 

 

Call Only Ads = 80% Invalid Click Rate - Google Refuses to Fix

Badged Google Partner
# 3
Badged Google Partner

"... the CTR is 100% and I don't ever see a phone call" 

 

That is not necessarily all due to invalid clicks. Call only ads can be tricky because the ad does not allow a user to click through to the website. Not every users intention is to initiate a phone call, and unless you are very clear that a click will initiate a phone call in the ad copy, the call abandonment rates can be extremely high.

 

Have you experimented with standard ads (and call extensions) along with call only ads and compared the actual call volume (and invalid clicks) between the two?

Tom

Call Only Ads = 80% Invalid Click Rate - Google Refuses to Fix

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 4
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

I'm very experienced with Call Only ads. I'm well aware not every click results in a phone call. I have the keywords locked down pretty well and about 80% of the clicks that aren't invalid are actual phone calls. 

 

These invalid clicks I speak of show up in the "Invalid Clicks" column. 

 

Call volume is much lower with standard ads.

 

Higher ad position isn't the problem, as most keywords hover around position 2.5 or 3. This hasn't changed, just the huge uptick in invalid clicks. 

Call Only Ads = 80% Invalid Click Rate - Google Refuses to Fix

[ Edited ]
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

This is what is indicating bot traffic:

 

3 clicks 3 impressions

3 clicks 3 impression

3 clicks 5 impressions

2 clicks 5 impressions

1 click 1 impression

1 click 1 impression

1 click 1 impression

1 click 1 impression

1 click 1 impression

1 click 3 impressions

 

90% of the keywords have 1 click 1 impression. Then they are invalidated by Google's algorithm, as they are invalid.

 

Also, the budget is set on "standard" acceleration, but the budget is blown in 1 min until the account is swept for invalid clicks. 

Call Only Ads = 80% Invalid Click Rate - Google Refuses to Fix

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 6
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi Bob,

 

How are things going? Was this ever resolved?

Call Only Ads = 80% Invalid Click Rate - Google Refuses to Fix

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Google have issues with Call Tracking, I think its a problem with their telecoms provider Colt. It must be happening to everyone running Call tracking campaigns. Problems seem to start around 1pm UK time. Some people maybe don't notice it but if you measure your calls to clicks each hour of the day you will see performance drop massively after 1pm. Clicks also spike after 1pm, where people are double or triple clicking as their calls are failing.