Hiding PPC Ads From Your Competition

Internet marketing and all its sub-categorical fields are intrinsically competitive industries, and pay per click (PPC) advertising is a perfect microcosm that reflects this. Indeed, PPC can be such a contest that at times it may be ideal to hide your PPC ads from competitors for various reasons.

Hiding PPC Ads through Geo-Targeting

Google AdWords offer a special targeting feature for PPC marketers called geo-targeting, where you can specifically target locations to advertise to — or NOT. If you can find out the physical address of your competition (which is the most likely place they use to access the Internet), you can set this address along with an indicated radius and instruct AdWords to not show your PPC ads in this region. Selecting a competitor’s address and setting a 1 to 3 mile radius blacks out that area from receiving your PPC ads.

Hiding PPC Ads through IP Exclusions

The downside to geo-targeting — or using it to hide PPC ads — is that an entire area misses out on your PPC ads instead of just specifically your competition. If you want a more fine-tuned means to hide your PPC ads from competition, you can also block their IP address.

The IP address for a computer (or any other device connected to a network) is set quasi-permanently. For small to mid-sized businesses, it’s a good bet that the IP addresses are all but permanent. The exclusion option is available in Google AdWord’s Display Network tab. Just choose Manage IP exclusions.

Wait, Why Am I Hiding My PPC Ads?

Now that you know a couple of methods how to hide your ads, you probably want to know why. Among the several most typical reasons are:

  • Click fraud: click fraud (invalid clicks on ads) is not much of a problem, admittedly, but when costs per click can soar to as high as $10, (high stakes bidding competition), it’s best to avoid click fraud like the plague.
  • Fooling the competition — Most PPC marketers in the small to mid-sized levels check competitor ads to get a good idea who they’re up against in bidding. If they can’t see you’re a top competitor, they lack enough information to use against you.
  • Preventing data analyses — in the same vein as fooling the competition to think you’re not in the running for top PPC ads, hiding your ads also prevents competitors from gleaning as much information as they can from them. From your marketing copy to your landing page, competitors intent on getting to the top of the PPC ad battle can learn a lot from reading and following a PPC ad.

While hiding PPC ads may seem counterintuitive at first, it serves a purpose. There are, however, ways to circumvent these rather simple means to hide your ads that can render the effort fruitless — the same ones you can use to ensure that YOUR competition aren’t hiding any ads from you. But if you think an extra layer of defense for your PPC ads is necessary, then hiding your PPC ads from competition can be a good defense to set up.