Over the years, we have seen a rapid increase in iGaming regulation in different countries like Sweden and the UK, that limit what advertisers can and can’t do. In some cases, the operator can also be liable for the activity of their marketing affiliates.
It is vital for the future of casinos operating in regulated markets to monitor that their affiliate’s marketing activity, is also compliant.
On the other side of the coin are blackhat affiliates. These affiliates exist in markets that do not have local iGaming regulations. Some might say, grey markets. Google, Facebook, and other platforms have taken the stance that countries without local regulation, are not eligible for gambling advertising.
Therefore have put measures in place to block casino ads in these regions.
This is where blackhat PPC affiliates thrive.
Getting through Google and Facebook ad approvals, both automated and manual, presents a huge barrier for entry. Reducing competition and increasing profitability, if done right.
Stick around and get a taste of this interesting world.
What is Blackhat Google AdWords?
Blackhat Google AdWords is based on a SEO technique called cloaking.
Cloaking has been around for ages and it was initially introduced to trick crawling bots to promote sites with a keyword. But users would be redirected to different content or a different site altogether.
When a site uses cloaking, it generates different content or redirects to a different site based on the user’s attributes eg. region, time, or characteristics of the client like IP Address.
Such an approach allows the Blackhat PPC experts of yesterday to publish ads linking to a “safe page” for Google ad approval IPs. All other IPs in the targeted country will see, what we call the “money page”.
This is the page casino ads are shown on; that the affiliates monetize.
Affiliates are getting better at this. They even bypass VPNs IP’s now.
Some go as far as to have laptops or virtual machines and wifi dongles dedicated to aged AdWords accounts. All to avoid triggering an alert on Google Ad approvals.
If you are going to dive into this shrouded world, below are some terms you are going to need to get familiar with:
- Warm-up periods.
- Aged accounts.
- Ad approval IP’s.
- Payment solutions.
- Cloaking mechanisms
- Twice yearly Blackhat ad armageddon.
How to manually detect Blackhat Google Ads?
Detection of Blackhat Google Ads is not a simple process and has become tricky over the years.
This poses a problem for Affiliate Managers that are on the hunt for black hat Google ad affiliates.
Breaking through the affiliate’s safe page requires you to simulate the activity of a user targeted by the Blackhat Google Ads.
The typical approach is to use a VPN or Proxy solution.
A proxy server will proxy traffic from your PC to a server, and the server will act as the middleman between your PC and the site you want to access. As with VPN solutions, there are a lot of companies that provide these services, like hidester.
Good blackhat affiliates add measures to identify IP ranges used by popular VPNs and Proxy servers.
The best approach to get to the blackhat ads money page is to use the power of the cloud.
You can use one of the different cloud services like Azure, Google or AWS to create a virtual machine in a region targeted by the blackhat ads.
By connecting to a virtual machine remotely, you can check the Google Ads by loading a browser and using the keywords that:
- Are most likely used by these affiliates
- Are related to your, or competitors’ brands.
You need to perform checks at regular intervals during the day. To avoid detection, redirection to the money site can be disabled during a time period when you are operating. Particularly if the region is in a different time zone.
Having a mechanism to detect Blackhat AdWords is essential as it will help you identify affiliates that you are on the lookout for.
We at Gainchanger automate the tedious part of an Affiliate Manager’s job, to allow you to scale your results exponentially and focus on what really matters or even rank higher for very specific keywords.
Simon Bonello is Co-founder of Gain Changer. His main area of focus is Business Process Automation, Software Technical Architecture and Technical SEO