Google Adsense, click fraud and invalid clicks

James Ryan Jonas

The more ad clicks, the more you can earn from Google Adsense.

That’s the mantra of most Adsense publishers. However, not all ad clicks are good. Some clicks can even get one’s Adsense account banned.

To know more about ad clicks, click fraud, and invalid clicks, we’ve prepared a guide below. Read on.

What are invalid clicks?

Invalid clicks are clicks that artificially inflate the cost to advertisers or the revenues to publishers. These include clicks that are of no value to the advertiser or clicks that were determined to be not motivated by genuine user interest.

What are specific types of invalid clicks?

Invalid clicks include but are not limited to repeated manual clicks or impressions through the use of robots, automated click and impression generating tools, or third-party services that generate clicks or impressions such as paid-to-click, paid-to-surf, autosurf, and click-exchange programs, or any deceptive software.

What are invalid impressions?

Invalid impressions are similar to invalid clicks, except only that mere impressions on the page, not ad clicks, can be considered invalid. Examples of invalid impressions include but are not limited to:

  • Third-party programs for purchasing fixed amounts of traffic, e.g. “$10 for 1,000 page views”
  • Third-party programs with user incentives, such as paid-to-surf or auto-surf programs
  • Excessive page refreshes, generated either manually or automatically

What is click fraud?

Click fraud is a subset of invalid clicks intended to drive up advertiser cost or publisher revenue artificially. Examples of these clicks include but are not limited to:

  • A publisher clicking on his own ads, or encouraging clicks on his ads
  • Users or family members clicking to support the site / publisher
  • Third-party programs with user incentives, such as paid-to-click services and click-exchanges
  • Automated clicking tools, robots, or other deceptive software

I accidentally clicked on my own ads. Do I need to report it to Google Adsense?

Not necessarily. Google recognizes that accidental clicks may occur and, also, their system properly credits only clicks and impressions considered to be valid.

Should I be concerned if my site experienced a surge in traffic causing ad clicks to increase?

Not really. As in accidental clicks, Google recognizes that site traffic may significantly increase for various reasons. There is, however, no need to report this to Google since one’s account is being credited only for all clicks and impressions considered valid.

My Adsense reports show there were ad clicks but there were no earnings! Why?

Google’s official explanation is this: It could be that your account has some clicks or impressions which the monitoring system considers to be invalid. Clicks deemed invalid will appear in the reports. However, since advertisers will not be charged for these, publishers don’t receive any revenue for the clicks. For this reason, ad clicks with no associated revenue may still appear on the reports.

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.