What is Click Fraud?

What is click fraud? Simply put, click fraud is the intentional abuse of a pay-per-click advertising system like Google AdSense. It’s essentially theft and it always results in a complete ban from the advertising network. Click fraud is never okay.

Click fraud is theft because you are stealing money from advertisers. To really understand why this is so terrible, you need to understand how pay-per-click advertising works.

With Google AdSense, advertisers use the AdWords platform to pay for ads targeted to certain keywords. Publishers (website owners) write content and provide space on their websites for Google advertisements. The Google advertisements are contextual, which means the ads that show up are relevant to the content of the page. This ensures that readers see ads that are relevant to the users, which means they are more likely to click on the ads. The readers see ads that interest them. The advertiser generates leads from a relevant source. The publisher makes money! Everybody wins.

What is click fraud?

Click fraud happens when a publisher clicks on their own ads (or encourages someone else to do so). This artificially increases their earnings by stealing money from the advertisers who paid for those ads. Click fraud is theft.

Google AdSense, and other pay-per-click providers, have security measures in place to protect their advertisers from  invalid click activity. Their protections ensure that advertisers only pay for valid clicks. This system automatically detects invalid click activity and will automatically ban your account if click fraud is found.

All sites encounter a small amount of invalid click activity. Each month, my estimated AdSense earnings are reduced by a small amount (usually less than $50) because of invalid clicks. Invalid clicks are usually accidental and result from someone clicking an ad by accident. These clawbacks are somewhat annoying but insignificant because they represent such a small percentage of my overall AdSense activity.

However, when your invalid click activity is significant, you will be found guilty of click fraud and you will lose the ability to use that advertising program. The internet abounds with horror stories of banned accounts. It is essential that you read and understand the terms of every advertising program you use.

How can you avoid click fraud?

Click fraud can happen in a number of ways. It’s important to always follow these steps to ensure that you never lose your advertising account.

DO NOT CLICK ON YOUR OWN ADS. Don’t “test” them. Don’t even touch them! Clicking on your own ads is a surefire way to get accused of click fraud.

DO NOT ENCOURAGE OTHER PEOPLE TO CLICK ON YOUR ADS. Don’t tell your Mom how you make money. Don’t tell ANYONE to click ads. Don’t even use text to your ads “sponsors” or “visit our advertisers” or anything like that. Don’t let your drunk best friend go slap-happy on those ads, either. Your well-intentioned friends and family can and will get you banned from AdSense if they create invalid click activity on your behalf.

DO NOT PLACE YOUR ADS IN PLACES WHERE PEOPLE HAVE TO CLICK THEM. Have you heard the sad story of Idris Sami, the 19-year-old who lost $46,000 in Google AdSense payments when he was accused of click fraud? His service, MesTextos, required users to click a large ad before they could use the free texting service. That’s why he earned so much money – and that forced-click activity is exactly why he lost everything.

Here are a few more mistakes that can result in a ban… :\

What happens if you’ve been banned for click fraud? 

If you’ve been banned due to invalid click activity, you’ll need to find a new way to monetize your website. We’ve found some other effective monetization techniques here.

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