Despite being one of the oldest tricks in the digital marketing book, pay-per-click advertising, or “PPC” for short, is still one of the most widely used digital marketing tactics. With more advertising networks and a wider audience to tap into, PPC ads are perfect for both gaining exposure and converting your target audience into paying customers.

PPC advertising is also very effective to generate awareness for a new product or service. When launching a new e-commerce site, for instance, using PPC ads to direct traffic isn’t just good for brand awareness and organic audience growth, but also for customer conversion and the bottom line. Combined with other tactics such as SEO, SEM, and content marketing, you can magnify the impact of PPC ads.

However, understanding the impact of your digital campaigns requires full transparency. PPC ads need to be ruthlessly measured and accounted for, especially since you are paying for every click. Unfortunately, there are still cases of click fraud and misuse of PPC ads, which puts an even greater emphasis on the need for transparency of the data. Understanding click breakdown is an essential thing to do in today’s market – so here are a few key tips

Start by identifying clicks that matter

For this scenairo, we are going to focus on Google Ads, and its Ad Reports function. The same approach can also be implemented across multiple advertising networks and analytics tools, but Google still hosts the majority of existing PPC campaigns, making it the perfect example to use.

The first thing you want to do is understand how Google defines clicks. Clicks on the Google Ads dashboard don’t just represent link clicks or a click-through, but also other actions taken by users on the platform.

For Facebook, clicks can be link clicks, post likes (and comments or shares), clicks that lead to your Facebook Page or Instagram profile, and clicks that simply expand your content, particularly when you have photos and videos as part of the ads. Google Ads incorporates a more straightforward approach than that.

Clicks on Google Ads reports are basically the number of user views and clicks on the ads directly, which are the type of clicks that directs users to your website or app. It is the equivalent of Facebook link clicks, a touchpoint on which Facebook users are exposed to the rest of your advertising campaign, usually in the form of a product page or a landing page.

Now that we have identified the clicks that matter, we need to go a step further and break down the link clicks that our PPC ads receive. Clicks to websites or landing pages are the most obvious. You usually add a URL to the end of your call to action so that users that click on the ad are redirected to the correct page.

On the other hand, Google also offers mobile click to call and click to message, both of which are link clicks that directs users to a specific call to action. In both instances, users are then shown either the native dialer of their phone or a messaging app that connects them to your customer support line directly. These too, are valuable for improving conversion rates.

Driving direction is not so popular among the general PPC ads publishers, but it is incredibly useful when you need to generate traffic for physical retail spaces. Rather than directing users to a landing page or a product page, you ask to provide users with directions. This type of clicks works seamlessly with Google Maps.

By comparison, Facebook Ads also allows you to direct customers to Facebook Canvas, Facebook’s own way of telling brand stories in a compelling way. Facebook Canvas is designed to make brand stories, information about products and services, and other elements of your product messaging more interesting to users. You can add additional calls to action to the Facebook Canvas.

The effectiveness and impact of your PPC ads depends highly on the type of clicks you add to the advertising material. Google will even separate and distinguish “headline” clicks from “sitelink” clicks so you can keep track of whether your copywriting is more effective in converting users than the advertising message overall. In total, there are currently 45 different click types to choose from in Google Ads.

It is important to note that Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel tools can supplement any campaign by offering additional tracking data. Google Analytics’ tracking script placed on your landing pages will gather more metrics about users and give you a clearer view of their actual behavior.

However, adding Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel also means allowing the networks to track users coming to your site for other purposes; this is especially true with Facebook Pixel. When users exit your site and visit websites that also place pixels on their pages, Facebook can build an in-depth profile of those users using tracking data. There are some privacy concerns here, so proceed with caution.

“Click fraud” is also quite common. It is not unusual for agencies or specialists to inflate the numbers by introducing robot clicks. Obviously, those robot clicks are not valuable to your business, since they will never turn into real sales. Clicks fraud can seriously harm your conversion and quickly consume your marketing budget.

In addition, you may not always have the level of granularity in the data that you need to make informed decisions. If you don’t know your users’ location, the actual amount time they spend on your site, and the actions leading up to their link clicks, you really have no information to use for optimizing your advertising campaign. You are losing thousands of potential sales just by not having complete and transparent data.

Build a fraud-free campaign from the start

Boosting conversion is the primary objective here, which is why data transparency needs to be approached as a necessity rather than an option. Fortunately, you don’t have to completely rely on Google Ads reports – or other reporting tools used by your advertising network – and can even automate tracking and optimization further.

Click forensics can help you eliminate common PPC ad campaign issues and streamline your data processing like never before. For example, click fraud prevention capabilities offered by ClickGUARD allow you to gain a much better understanding of your users and their link clicks.

Click fraud prevention is not the only benefit offered by this type of tool. By gaining a better understanding of your users, you can automate other marketing activities, deliver a personalized experience, and significantly increase your conversion rate. Optimizing ad content based on how far along the sales funnel users are is also made possible with this level of data transparency.

As an added bonus, you get better leads with the possibility of real-time optimization. Rather than waiting for a full advertising cycle before doing content reviews and conversion measurement, you can use real-time data and an in-depth understanding of your users to make changes and adapt as users are interacting with your content.

Understanding click breakdown is the first step towards enabling the level of data transparency you need to optimize your campaigns, increase PPC ad conversion rates and assure your ROI on every click.