As a young teen, I found myself homeless. My own stupidity, and no fault of my parents. I was determined to make it on my own, and that was that. I lived under a bridge at a park in a small town called Elmira, Ontario and spent most of my time around school hanging at a bar called the Steddick.
Many of the regulars came to view me as a bit of a fixture hiding in the games area, and frequently challenged me to a game of pool. I discovered quickly that I was actually a bit of a natural at the game. I had no trouble with the physics, and after watching many games the older guys had played, I had adopted the same hold technique that I had observed the better players using. I rarely could afford the dollar required to actually play on my own, but I spent hours just hitting the white ball around the table.
Read on to find out what happens next – and how this relates to AdWords IP exclusion.
One night a guy named Jerry challenged me to a game, and I jumped up as always happy to play, but Jerry wanted to make it more interesting. I had a $5 bill and optimism, so it was game on. I could probably write out a dramatic version of the game in partially entertaining fashion, but I’ll spare you that.
I won. Jerry paid me with a smile, then asked if I’d like to go again. He offered $10 this time, and I promptly accepted. Jerry broke the balls, cleared the low balls and sunk the 8 ball. I never even got a chance to shoot.
Thankfully for me, Jerry was a shark…but he was a nice one. He let me keep the $10, and then explained to me how he had set me up for the second bet by throwing the first game. Jerry let me know he could tell I was a strong player, and if I needed money for food, he’d just “taught a man how to fish.”
Maybe the concept seems simple now, but to my young mind all I could see was dollar signs. I began hustling the “old guys” daily, usually for $1 or $2 bets, but I always ended the day with enough to grab a sub sandwich for dinner. I figured out quickly that the guys who would show up with their own cue were the best targets. Once in a while I would meet one who was great…and lose…but usually they just had an ego, and I could use that to make $20 - $40. I did alright this way for a couple of months, and finally someone pointed out that a bar up the road, called the Central Tavern, had pool tournaments and I could potentially win some real money there.
So with all the confidence of a young teenager who thinks he has become a master of something, I pooled together the entry money and crept my way into the bar.
The back of the bar featured a jukebox, a pinball machine and two pool tables. The walls were wood paneled, and the accompanying posters featured various women awkwardly posing with beer. To my young mind, this was indeed a place of much magic.
I looked around and spotted a crowd of folks gathered by the bar. Cautiously I worked my way towards the group, nervous that I would either be called out for being a kid, or that someone might decide they didn’t care for my face. Thankfully the group never even looked at me, and I pushed my way up to the bar. A redheaded waitress, who I would come to know as Sherry, looked across the bar at me with a glare that made me want to crawl into a hole somewhere.
I waited for her to speak, but sensing she was doing the same, I said I was hoping to play in the pool tournament. She looked at me for a bit longer, seeming to assess me carefully, and then pointed at the poster. I nodded, then realized she was pointing to the money part of the poster, so I dug into my pockets and handed over the buy in money. It crossed my mind that she might have decided I was old enough to drink, and considered trying my luck for a “real drink,” but I chickened out.
I sat in a dark corner for what felt like hours, babying my small cup of ginger ale and waiting for the tournament to begin. I saw a guy named Jamie pick a fight with a guy three times his size, and subsequently I saw the bigger guy holding Jamie by his throat on the ground and telling him he wasn’t interested in a fight. Jamie said “I’m good, no worries big guy” and the large man walked away.
Another guy remarked to Jamie that the big guy had kicked his butt, and Jamie said “He was a big man…you on the other hand…” and then punched the guy straight in his nose, sending the former heckler immediately to the floor. I was a pretty solid fighter for my age, but these were all “grown” men, and I admit that I was terrified of all of them after I had watched that. In fact, all I wanted to do after I saw that was slip away quietly and head back to the bridge.
I must have jumped a few feet in the air when I heard someone suddenly call out my name. I spun around and saw a man standing over at the tables holding a paper. I walked over to him and announced I was Rob. He simply pointed to the table and walked into the crowd again.
My opponent was an intimidating looking guy. He wore an American flag bandana, and when he saw me looking at him, he flashed me a smile. This put me at ease a bit, so I cleared my throat and asked if he wanted to break. He nodded, walked around to the right side of the table, and smashed the white ball into the formerly triangular arrangement of colored balls. He sunk three on the break, and I had noticed that he had put a ton of backspin on his shot…a technique I would borrow going forward for myself. This guy was good, and I was certain I was done for, but on his last shot he missed sinking the eight ball. With the black ball positioned right in front of a pocket, I made the easy shot and the game was done.
The guy shook my hand, smiled and walked away. I quickly found my way back to my dark corner, and did my best not to make any eye contact with anyone while I waited for my name to be called.
One Versus the Many
For my next match, I headed straight back to the cues, grabbed the one I had used in the first game, and turned around to meet my opponent. What I was met with instead was a familiar face, surrounded by five other ones. I realized that the guy glaring at me while assembling his cue was someone I had recently hustled at the Steddick. I was thrilled, as I knew I had beaten this guy easily, so I figured I had this game in the bag. I watched him turn around and chat with his friends, and then realized I might be in some trouble as all of them turned to glare at me.
I’m not sure what he told them, but I realized after the tournament I should probably make myself scarce. I offered him the break, and without a word he walked over and struck the ball hard. It bounced twice, hit the pack of balls, and then shot off the table, stopping with a loud thud on the men's washroom door.
I knew enough to say nothing, and one of his friends placed the ball back on the table. I grabbed it, moved it to where I would have the best first shot, and took aim. Just before I could make contact, something smacked off of my cheek just below my eye. I looked at the beer cap on the table green and then looked up to see the guys laughing.
One large bearded guy said “Oops,” and then continued laughing. I removed the cap from the table, and quickly took my shot. I was so focused on just getting the game over with, almost certain these guys were going to give me a serious beating at any moment, that I didn’t consider anything else around me. Just pure focus. I sunk ball after ball, leaving myself with excellent shape after each, and despite various comments about my mother coming from the guys around the table, I sunk the eight ball.
The guy with the paper came over a few minutes later and asked how it went. I stepped forward ready to announce my victory, when the large guy with the beard stepped forward and pointed to his friend.
“James destroyed the little punk,” he said. (Full disclosure: His language was a bit stronger than portrayed.)
The guy with the paper just nodded, made some mark on the paper he was holding, and walked away. I was so conflicted, and felt like I should protest in some way, but my opponent, who I now knew as James, stared me straight in the face. I knew he was looking for any excuse to hit me at that point, and my survival instincts kicked in hard. I just put down my cue, and quietly slipped out the front of the bar.
Once outside, I hurried to a restaurant called Champs, and with my last $5 I grabbed a coffee and fries. I was so mad/disappointed, but I knew full well I couldn’t stand against this guy and his friends. After some internal consideration, I realized that if I was going to win my way to food going forward, I would need to make sure that any game that involved money was one on one. If the person had friends with him, forget it. Exclude the unnecessary dangers, and focus on the goal at hand.
Adwords IP Exclusion
In the world of AdWords, your competition (or your client’s competition) often have friends too. Great steps have been taken to try and identify click fraud by Google, but at last check this is far from a guarantee of budget security. From the little guy to the big-bearded corporations, competitors are still clicking on your ads to hurt your budget.
[Tweet: Competitors are still clicking on your ads to hurt your budget."]
From their standpoint, it makes sense. Standard management will result in specific keywords seeing lots of clicks and minimal conversions getting bid down or removed. Clearing the way for your competition to claim the win on the term. Even if you don’t see much evidence of malicious clicks, the minimal amount of effort required to block, at the very least, your competition from your ads is worth every cent.
You may already believe you know who your competitors are, which may be true, but I would encourage you to check out the auction insights within your Adwords account anyways. I personally block each one listed, just to be safe. To see this list, open your Adwords UI, click on the details button, and then click “ALL”:
Once you enter, you will be presented with a list of competitors your campaigns are currently competing with. Make a note of all of them, and then go “IP hunting.” Finding their IP address should be relatively easy…most of the time. My first stop is usually to domain tools, where you can just insert the domain name, and it will give you back the IP address associated with it.
Another option is to find a contact us section on your competitors site, send an email asking some general question, and when the reply email comes through, grab the IP info out of the email header. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to do both methods, and if they are different; block both.
Once you have the IP addresses, enter your Adwords account, click on a campaign, click on settings, and then scroll down until you find “IP exclusions” option:
Click edit, and then paste or type in your list of IP addresses to exclude:
Perfect. Save, close and repeat until you have all of your campaigns covered. Hopefully you’ll find search excellence easier to focus on with less distractions. Pick your shots, work your angles, and don’t worry about what the friends are doing. You control the game.
Have you tried IP exclusion in AdWords? Let us know if it made a difference for you.
Rob T. Case is a digital marketing expert, musician and inventor. He is currently Director of Performance on the 2015 Google Search Excellence Award winning team at Direct Access Digital. Rob worked as a contractor for a year at Google, where he trained staff on AdWords best practices, audited accounts, helped develop an automated account auditing system and served as one of four judges for the 2014 Google Search Excellence Awards. Twitter: @robtcase