How to Know if your Ads Generate Accidental Clicks?

Ad Optimization
February 7, 2024 | by Aleesha Jacob
accidental-clicks-on-ads

Google is strict when it comes to ad placements – making sure web users are not misled to accidentally click on ads. Their strict stance on ad placements, aimed at preventing users from being misled into accidentally clicking on ads, is rooted in a commitment to fostering a trustworthy, user-friendly, and ethical online search space.

How to Know if your Ads Generate Accidental Clicks? MonitizeMore

The bar chart above (source: PubGuru reports) illustrates the growth of accidental ad clicks year over year from 2019 to 2023. As depicted, there’s a clear upward trend in the number of accidental clicks, indicating significant growth each year.

Google policy has outlined a number of scenarios where one could get flagged for creating ad placements susceptible to accidental clicks:

1) Unnatural attention to ads

Asking too much attention from viewers is a no-no for Google. Ads that include flashy animations, arrows, and symbols pointing to the ad, ads on floating boxes or on sticky areas will surely get you in trouble. So steer clear from those and you’ll be safe.

How to Know if your Ads Generate Accidental Clicks? MonitizeMore

2) Placing ads under misleading headers

Always remember to make sure that your viewers can easily identify which is the site’s content and which one is the ad. One way to do this is to label your ads with “Advertisements” or “sponsored links” only. Listed below are the labels that should NOT be used:

  • “Feel free to click an ad.”
  • “Contribute to the cause by clicking an ad.”
  • “Help keep this site running. Check out our sponsors!”
  • “We need a new server. Support us!”

3) Aligning images with ads

When you see your site and found that your images look related to the ads, do not attempt to align your ads with your site’s images. Usually, this happens when there’s no space and labels in between site images and ads. Change your layout before you get dinged by Google.

The Importance of Proper Ad Separation:

 

  1. User Experience (UX): A fundamental principle of UX design is clarity. Users should be able to distinguish between editorial content and advertisements easily. When ads are seamlessly integrated with site content, it confuses users, leading to accidental clicks. This not only frustrates users but also devalues the user experience by making navigation deceptive.
  2. Transparency and Trust: Transparency is key in building and maintaining trust with your audience. When ads are clearly labeled and separated from content, it demonstrates respect for the user’s ability to make informed decisions about what they choose to engage with.
  3. Compliance with Advertising Standards: Platforms like Google enforce strict guidelines regarding ad placement and labeling to ensure a fair and transparent digital advertising ecosystem. Failing to adhere to these guidelines can result in penalties, including the demotion of your site in search results or removal from the Google AdSense program.

Related Read: Top Ad Implementation Mistakes for Image-rich Sites

4) Site layout that pushes content below the fold

What would you feel as a reader when the moment you open the page, all you can see are the ads? Of course, Google feels the same way so they are not allowing their publishers to have ads that push the content down both on desktop and mobile. Such practice is not good for user experience.

5) Formatting content to mimic ads

This is one sure way to get flagged by Google for misleading users by formatting content to mimic the ads. Google does not allow publishers to format their content in a way that looks like an ad. This is very common in search result pages so be sure that your ads look distinct from your search results.

How to Know if your Ads Generate Accidental Clicks? MonitizeMore

6) Offering compensation

This is one way of saying that you are bribing your readers for a click and anything that sounds similar to this kind of setup is not permitted.

The practice of offering compensation for clicks, often viewed as a form of bribery, directly undermines the integrity and authenticity of user engagement online. This tactic involves promising rewards, monetary or otherwise, to users in exchange for clicking on ads, links, or performing specific actions on a website or app. Such strategies may initially seem effective in boosting metrics, but they carry significant drawbacks and ethical concerns, as well as potential violations of advertising standards and policies.

The practice of offering compensation for clicks, often viewed as a form of bribery, directly undermines the integrity and authenticity of user engagement online. This tactic involves promising rewards, monetary or otherwise, to users in exchange for clicking on ads, links, or performing specific actions on a website or app. Such strategies may initially seem effective in boosting metrics, but they carry significant drawbacks and ethical concerns, as well as potential violations of advertising standards and policies.

Ethical Considerations

 

  1. User Trust: When users discover that incentives are driving clicks, trust in the content provider and the legitimacy of the engagement metrics is eroded. Authentic engagement is built on genuine interest, not on transactions.
  2. Quality of Engagement: Clicks generated through compensation often result in low-quality engagement. Users motivated by rewards may not have genuine interest in the advertised product or service, leading to poor conversion rates and engagement metrics that don’t accurately reflect user interest.
  3. Fairness and Transparency: Offering compensation for clicks can create an uneven playing field, where content quality and relevance take a backseat to incentivized actions. This undermines the principle of fair competition based on merit and value.

Legal and Policy Implications

 

  1. Violation of Policies: Many advertising platforms and services have strict policies against incentivized clicks. Engaging in such practices can lead to penalties, including the suspension of advertising accounts or removal from platforms.
  2. Legal Risks: Depending on jurisdiction, offering compensation for clicks could run afoul of laws regulating advertising practices, potentially leading to legal challenges and fines.

7) The distance between ads and flash games

We all love games. They are our best friends when we are bored, but accidentally clicking on ads while you’re about to win the game is never fun. Google recommends at least to have 150 pixels distance between the ad and the edge of the game, but some games might need to have more distance depending on how the game is played.

Now that we are aware of what can cause accidental clicks, we should also know where “NOT” to put your ads.

As you know, Google only allows 3 ads for content units, 3 link units, and 2 search boxes. They strictly implement that there should only be 1 large ad unit per page such as 300×600, 100×1050 or 970×250 formats. Be mindful as well, on where you are going to put the max number of ads so it won’t look messy on your page. The number of ads allowed is also the same for mobile but remember that 2 or more Adsense ads may not appear on your mobile screen all at the same time.

Auto-refreshing a page even when the user did not request it is not permitted by Google. So putting your ads on pages that auto-refresh or auto-redirect is a violation of the policy.  Pre-roll ads are also included on the “Don’ts list”. These types of ads show up even before the visitor can actually read the site’s content.

Related Read: Adsense Policy on Auto-Refreshing Ads

Best Strategies for Proper Ad Alignment

How to Know if your Ads Generate Accidental Clicks? MonitizeMore

  1. Use Adequate Spacing: Ensure there is sufficient space between your site’s images and advertisements. This helps users visually separate content from ads, reducing the risk of accidental clicks.
  2. Implement Clear Labeling: Ads should be clearly labeled as such. Use terms like “Advertisement” or “Sponsored” above or near the ad units to alert users that these are paid placements, not part of the site’s editorial content.
  3. Reconsider Layout Design: If your current site layout makes it difficult to distinguish between images and ads, consider a redesign. The layout should facilitate a clear division between content and advertisements, prioritizing a user-friendly experience.
  4. Adhere to Best Practices: Familiarize yourself with and adhere to the best practices and guidelines provided by advertising platforms and regulatory bodies. This not only enhances user trust but also safeguards your site against potential penalties.
  5. Regular Review and Testing: Regularly review your site’s layout and user interaction patterns. A/B testing can be an effective way to find the best placement for ads that doesn’t interfere with or mimic the site’s content.

MonetizeMore helps publishers stay compliant with Google’s ad implementation policies. If you need advice on how you can get your ads enabled again, contact our team and we’ll be glad to help!


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