Ad review center & blocking controls

Find the click string of an ad

A click string is the URL that takes a user to an ad. They're are also known as click tags or tracking URLs. You can find a click string directly from within a mobile device or by reviewing mobile traffic in a mobile session traffic log.

From a mobile device

Disconnect from any internet or cellular service, then click or tap the ad. The ad will attempt to open in a browser window, but because there's no service it will not load. However, the click string will be exposed in the URL. This approach can also be used on a computer.

From a mobile session traffic log

You can use a debugging proxy, such as Charles or Fiddler, to view mobile session traffic logs and find the click string of an ad.

Requirements

  • A web debugging proxy, such as Charles or Fiddler
  • A Wi-Fi network that allows peer-to-peer traffic
  • A desktop or laptop computer
  • An iOS or Android mobile device

Proxy configuration

  1. Get your system IP address from your desktop or laptop computer. You can retrieve this by clicking this link.
  2. Tell your mobile device about your desktop’s IP.
    • Android
      1. Click Settings > Wi-Fi and select your Wi-Fi network.
      2. Select the “Show advanced options” check box.
      3. Under “Proxy settings”, select the manual option and enter the IP address from step 1 in the “Proxy hostname” field.
      4. Enter 8888 in the “Proxy port” field.
      5. Click Save.
    • iOS
      1. Click Settings > Wi-Fi and select your Wi-Fi network.
      2. Under “HTTP Proxy”, select the Manual button.
      3. Enter the IP address from step 1 in the “Server” field.
      4. Enter 8888 in the “Port” field.
      5. Close out.
  3. Configure your web debugging proxy tool:
    1. Set the HTTP proxy port to 8888.
    2. (Charles only) If the “External Proxy Setting” is selected, deselect it.
    3. (Fiddler only) Select the “Allow remote computers to connect” option.
  4. Set up SSL (Charles only):
    1. At the menu bar, go to Proxy > SSL Proxy Settings.
    2. Click Add.
    3. Enter pubads.g.doubleclick.net and googleads.g.doubleclick.net in the "Host" field and 443 in the "Port" field.
      You may also consider capturing all traffic by entering the wildcard "*" in the "Host" field while leaving the "Port" field blank. This can be useful when there's an issue outside the above two domains.
    4. Click OK.
    5. Install the Charles certificate on your machine by using the Charles SSL setup guidelines.
    6. Once your device is proxying to your desktop/laptop machine, go to your phone’s browser and type http://www.charlesproxy.com/getssl to download and install the machine certificate.
  5. Start capturing HTTP traffic from your mobile phone (Charles only).
    • You should see an alert asking if you want to allow your mobile device to connect. Select Allow.
  6. When you have finished capturing network traffic, be sure to turn off the proxy settings on your device by reversing step 2 (set proxy to None).
  7. Review the log to find the click strings of the viewed ads.

Considerations

  • Google does not endorse Charles or Fiddler HTTP Proxy in any way and you may use it at your own risk.
  • The HTTP proxy software can capture any activity from your device. Be sure to disable the proxy when finished recording the relevant traffic.
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