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Operation Camouflage: Redux

Posted on by in Google AdWords

Operation Camouflage: Redux

There is a little talked about feature in Google AdWords listed under the Tools section called IP Exclusion.  This feature allows you to block your ads on Google from being seen by a specific computer. You are allowed a maximum of 20 IP’s per campaign.

Many SEM analysts focus more on Search Phrases, Demographics, Referring URLs, etc… But what about the visitors IP address?  Provided that the visitor has a Static IP, we can assume that each visit under the same IP address is a unique visitor.  One known exception would be any visitor which has AOL.com as their Host Domain.

If you are using a Website Analytics product which allows for custom reports to be exported (including the visitors IP address), you are in luck.  If you are only using Google Analytics, you are out of luck as they do not capture this information – although there is another way…

Export the largest data sample you can and open it in Excel.  Select the IP address column and perform a Pivot Table. (See Instructions)

  • Save the file to your Hard Drive (Any Name)
  • Select the IP Address Column
  • Select the <Insert> tab
  • Under the <Tables> ribbon you will see PivotTable
  • Select <OK>
  • A New Sheet will open and on the right hand side of the screen you will see “IP” with a check Box
  • Select the Check Box
  • Drag the “IP” and Checkbox while holding the left mouse button down into the Values Field directly below.
  • Now Select the 1stvalue under “Count of IP” in the cells to the left
  • Right Click >> Sort >> Sort Largest to Smallest

What this action has done is show you the number of times a unique IP address has visited your site. Typically the 1st IP address is your own, but what about the others?  You can blindly add the top 20 IP address to your AdWords campaign immediately if you would like, but I highly suggest you investigate further… Who are these visitors?  Are they Organic visits or PPC? Are they returning customers who have bought in the past or are they a possible competitor who has clicked your ad 20 times off of your most expensive keyword?  There are many questions a data analyst should ask before ultimatly using this information in Google.  The better the filtering capabilities of your analytics, the greater the chance that you are isolating your competitors and avoid blocking your best customers.

There are many benefits to blocking your ad from competitors.  If you are both competing for the top position, you will be less inclined to increase your bid if you see yourself in the 1st position (meanwhile the rest of the world sees you in the 2nd).  You will also decrease the number of impressions which will ultimatly help your CTR.  And most obviously, you will limit the number of poor quality/fraudulent clicks.

Worst case scenario is that 20 people in the world may not see your ads but the best case is that you will save money on bad clicks, keep competition down, and increase your CTR.

If you do not have an analytics package which allows you to see the IP address, there is a black-hat method of discovering your competitions IP address.  This method is by no means perfect, although I would venture to say that this stratagy has a 90% chance of being effective.  But you will need to ask me directly to find out.  This one is private 😉

If you’ve noticed that the Contextual Targeting status within the Ask.com user interface is turned on at the Ad Level, but turned off at the Keyword Level then you are not seeing things.  Double check that the settings box is checked for Contextual Targeting, meaning you do not want to advertise on the Contextual Network. If this is the case, we saw it as well, and contacted Ask.com through their online form to inquire about this discrepancy.

A side note: My experience with Ask.com’s online form, basically customer service email only, has been superb. Although it doesn’t beat an immediate voice on the other end, they have responded to questions on the same business day (given the emails were sent no later than 9:30am). So for anyone looking to use it, the responses came back anywhere from 3-6pm.

Back to the Contextual Targeting discrepancy, Ask.com confirmed that is was a technical error and reassured that the Contextual Targeting was off, which was reflected at the Keyword Level. Please see response below:

“After reviewing your account, your contextuals are currently “off.” We are experiencing technical difficulties which result in our system incorrectly displaying your contextual setting as being “on.” To verify that your contextuals are indeed “off” please view your setting at the keyword level.”

Ask.com client representative contact form response

I just wanted to share this knowledge so that anyone advertising in Ask.com won’t be confused when coming across this occurrence too.