According to recent research, approximately 40% of traffic is bots, which is a potential driver of fraudulent clicks, and this figure is increasing every year. These fraudulent clicks have the potential to significantly impact ad monetization and user experience. So it’s no surprise advertisers have to be extra careful with them.
To address this issue, Google has released a tool called the Double Click Penalty, which can help advertisers in identifying and penalizing publishers engaged in click fraud. It uses various methods to detect fraudulent activities, such as bot use or deceptive click rates. It also uses machine learning algorithms to identify accidental clicks from users.
What is a double click penalty?
The double click penalty, also known as the Google two-click penalty, is a mechanism implemented by Google to address accidental and invalid clicks on ads. When a user interacts with an ad that is affected by the double click penalty, they are prompted to click again to confirm their intent. This measure aims to protect advertisers from paying for clicks that were not intentional, ensuring they are charged only for genuine and intentional engagement with their ads.
Why does Google impose a click penalty?
Google imposes the click penalty to prevent inappropriate and accidental clicks on ad units. This protects advertisers from paying for clicks that are not intentional or beneficial to their campaigns. By addressing invalid clicks caused by factors like bots, malware, and click fraud, Google maintains the integrity of its advertising platform and ensures a trustworthy and effective advertising experience for advertisers and users alike.
How does it work?
The double click penalty works by monitoring the click behavior of users on ads. If Google sees that a particular ad is receiving a high number of invalid clicks, it will impose the double click penalty on that ad. This will require users to click on the ad twice in order to be taken to the advertiser’s website.
How to check if your ad slots are penalized by Google?
There are a few ways to check if your ad slots are penalized by Google.
- Decreased CTR While Your Site Traffic Is Constant
One way is to look at your ad performance reports. If you see a sudden drop in your click-through rate (CTR) or your cost per click (CPC), it is possible that your ad slots have been penalized.
- Added Visit Site Button
When conducting quality assurance on your website’s ad slots, you might notice a notable change indicating the double click penalty. Specifically, if an ad that previously did not have a “Visit Site” button now includes one, it could be a sign that the double click penalty has been activated.
- Ad Manager Policy Tab
Since the start of this year, Google has implemented a notification system in Google Ad Manager accounts to alert publishers when they have been affected by a two-click penalty.
Sign In to Admanager account ➠ Admin Tab ➠ Policy center
- Third Party Tool
We have many other tools in the market which shows the click penalty and PubGuru Ad Inspector is one among them
How to monitor invalid clicks?
Monitoring invalid clicks is an essential aspect of managing online advertising campaigns effectively. In Google Ad Manager reporting, there are several metrics available that can help you track and analyze the percentage of invalid clicks on your sites.
- Ad server clicks: This metric counts the number of times an ad is clicked on.
- Ad server unfiltered clicks: This metric counts the number of times an ad is clicked on before any invalid traffic is filtered out.
To calculate the percentage of invalid clicks, you can use the following formula:
Invalid clicks% = (Ad server unfiltered clicks – Ad server clicks) / Ad server unfiltered clicks
The main difference between the two metrics is that ad server unfiltered clicks include clicks that are later determined to be invalid, while ad server clicks only include clicks that are determined to be valid.
Invalid clicks are clicks that are not made by a human user and are not intended to generate a conversion. Invalid clicks can be caused by a number of factors, including bots, malware, and click fraud.
By understanding the disparity between ad server clicks and ad server unfiltered clicks, you can gain insights into the performance of your ad campaigns. If you observe a high number of ad server unfiltered clicks but a low number of ad server clicks, it might indicate the presence of invalid traffic.
Monitoring and analyzing these metrics over time can help you identify patterns, detect potential fraudulent activity, and make informed decisions to optimize your advertising campaigns.
NOTE: It is an incomplete view of the invalid clicks%, as they don’t take into account Ad Exchange clicks within the Ad server clicks metric. Including Ad Exchange clicks provides a more comprehensive picture of the invalid clicks analysis.
Let’s compare the snapshots of two different publishers to understand the difference between high and low percentages of invalid clicks:
Factors driving for a two click penalty?
There are a number of factors that can drive a two click penalty, including:
- Placing ads too close to navigation buttons/links.
- Lack of padding between content and Ad
- Displaying ads under the misleading header:
NEXT | Continue | Feel Free to Click
- Irregular Ad Container size
- 1×1 Ad sizes
- Site Jumping on page load
- Bot traffic
How does it affect your ad revenue?
The double click penalty can have a significant impact on your ad revenue. When users are prompted to click twice on an ad in order to be taken to the advertiser’s website, they are less likely to complete the click. This can lead to a decrease in your CTR and your CPC, which can result in a loss of ad revenue.
The second-click requirement impacts publishers who have Google AdSense, Google AdX, or Google Ad Manager. It’s because after the CTR drops, the ad impressions also drop. Consequently, the ad revenue earned through impressions shrinks.
It typically unfolds through distinct stages:
- Ad Unit level
- Device level
- Domain level
- Ad account level (RON)
Performance of one of the publisher after the Google Two-Click Penalty
In the screenshot above, it is evident that the publisher was hit with a two-click penalty on May 8th, leading to a noticeable decline in CTR. Consequently, this decrease directly impacted CPMs and resulted in a decline in ad revenue.
Best practices to avoid click penalty
There are a number of things you can do to avoid a double click penalty, including:
- Place ads in a way that minimizes accidental clicks.
- Use ad sizes that are appropriate for your content.
- Avoid using flash ads and animated ads.
- Make sure your ad content is relevant to the content of your page.
- Use a reputable ad network.
- Monitor your ad performance reports for any signs of a decline in your CTR or CPC.
By following these best practices, you can help to protect your ad revenue from the double click penalty.
Understanding the impact of double-click penalties on your website’s revenue is crucial to prevent long-term losses. By recognizing the signs of a double-click penalty and implementing effective strategies promptly, you can enhance your website’s monetization and proactively prevent future penalties.
How can Cuebeat help here?
Experiencing a Google penalty and losing AdX demand at the domain and account levels is a significant concern for publishers. To minimize the risk of losing valuable demand, our product Cuebeat provides essential assistance. By promptly alerting publishers to drops in click percentage, spikes in invalid clicks, and declines in AdX demand across cohorts, Cuebeat helps identify click penalties swiftly.
With Cuebeat’s proactive monitoring, publishers receive timely alerts as soon as click penalties are detected. By being promptly notified about changes in click percentage, increases in invalid clicks, and drops in AdX demand, publishers can take immediate precautions. This enables them to protect their domain’s reputation, preserve their AdX demand, and mitigate potential revenue loss effectively.
In summary, Cuebeat acts as a crucial tool for publishers to stay ahead of click penalties, enabling them to take necessary precautions and preserve their AdX demand and revenue streams.