Why You Should Block VPN Traffic From Your PPC Campaigns

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VPNs or Virtual Private Networks are an effective way of hiding your home IP Address from the world. People use VPNs for a variety of reasons including their concerns over online privacy, tricking Netflix and HBO, and hiding illegal activities ranging from committing fraud to pirating movies and music.

Do you really want people who are engaging in illegal activities clicking on your ads? With the right tools VPN traffic to your website is very easy to recognize and with a little work can be effectively blocked from your Adwords and Bing PPC Campaigns.

Should You Block VPN Traffic?

Not all traffic from VPN servers is fraudulent or engaging in some kind of illegal activity. There are people who are genuinely concerned for their privacy that use VPNs to hide their ip address. These people shop online, spend their money and more importantly request mortgage quotes online.

Unfortunately, there is no way to distinguish these people from click bots or people engaging in fraudulent or illegal activity and in my experience you’re missing out on a very small segment of traffic by blocking as much VPN traffic as possible.

Click Bots Use VPNs to Hide in Plain Sight

There are a lot of dishonest advertisers using PPC in the mortgage industry and other competitive niches online. PPC click fraud is estimated to account for as much as 40% of your traffic. In my experience generating mortgage refinance leads via Adwords and Bing 40% is an accurate account of fraudulent traffic from competitors and bots.

Here’s a question for you: Even if these are real people who most likely are engaging in some kind of illegal activity online, do you really want them clicking on your ads?

If you’re using a proper analytics package on your site (Google Analytics is NOT) it’s very easy to measure visitor engagement with your landing page to determine if useless VPN traffic is draining your budget.

Why Google Analytics Is Completely and Utterly Useless

Google has hobbled their web analytics package in the pursuit of being greedy and making as much money as possible. In the name of user privacy of course. If you rely on organic traffic and are lucky enough to get it they refuse to share with you the keyword that a user entered to get to your site. What exactly does the keyword have to do with online privacy? They also do not share ip addresses or session ids of your visitors.

On the PPC side they give you the keyword but withhold everything else you need to effectively monitor your PPC ad spend for fraudulent clicks from competitors and bots. Of course they use this information themselves to track your online activities and serve ads you’re most likely to click and are in the running for the crown title of greediest company on the planet. Sorry Microsoft.

Irregardless, if you’re serious about web analytics, then Google Analytics is simply woefully inadequate. If for no other reason than controlling your own data, open source solutions like Piwik are vastly superior.

You Absolutely Should Block VPN Traffic From PPC

If you see a web host in your server logs 99.9% of the time it’s bot. Bots don’t have bank accounts, they don’t dive cars and they don’t have mortgages. All they do is waste your time and money. Web hosts are used to run bots or host the VPN services that mask their operations.

Blocking unwanted VPN traffic is labor intensive and requires monitoring a proper analytics package on a daily basis however, it can be managed effectively and at little cost. Detailed instructions can be found here: Definitive Guide to PPC Click Fraud.

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