Google AdSense Says Don’t Worry About Accidental Clicks, No One Will Notice

Accidents happen from the Google Inside AdSense blog today caught my eye. Apparently, lots of publishers accidentally click on their ads and write in to Google to say sorry. Don’t worry, says Google, "chances are we’ve already detected your clicks on your ads and discounted them." Bull.

Seriously, bull. Here’s an example. Over on my personal blog Daggle, I have AdSense ads. If I accidentally click on one of those ads, how does Google know that it was me the blog owner that did that and thus automatically issues a credit?

All Google knows about me is that I use British Telecom as my broadband provider. Lots of people use BT. How is Google going to spot my click and know it is accidental?

If I’m logged in to Google, THEN I’m more open to the idea they might see that my Google Account is linked to my Google AdSense account so discount clicks that way. After all, when I’m logged in, they actually know who I am. In addition, if I’m constantly clicking, I have no doubt that sets off alarm bells for possible review and discounting.

But the occasional accidental click, for the non-logged in person? That’s got to get through. And what I read from this post is Google saying don’t worry about it — the occasional accidental click isn’t something an advertiser will notice. Bad message to send.

Here’s a thought. How about a way for AdSense publishers to see all the clicks on their ads? Then if they accidentally click, they can go and delete the click themselves or flag it for review, so that AdSense support isn’t flooded with these requests.

I’m also asking Google if I’ve missed the mark on how they can — and can’t – automatically discount accidental clicks.

Related Topics: Channel: Display | Google: AdSense


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Philipp Lenssen

    Agreed, it’s impossible for them to differentiate between accidental clicks and clicks-to-increase-revenues in certain cases… like when you’re logged out, cleared all cookies & the IP changed, etc. I guess their support was swamped by emails and they figure that an accidental click once a year by an honest publisher isn’t really worth fretting about…

  • Gang0rraZ

    From the Desk of Gang0rraZ
    Friday May 25 10:45AM
    The Internet

    Dear Danny,

    I hate to say this but there is actually a very simple way for them to tell if you are clicking your ads.

    You don’t need to be logged on. They simply need to record your ip every time to login and then match you clicks to that ip.

    Another more advanced way to it, is to identify you via the Google toolbar with PageRank checking, but I can’t tell for sure they are doing this.

    You fan,

  • Milos Mileusnic

    Gang0rraZ, that could be tricky because of dynamic IP addresses provided by ISPs. For examle, I login to AdSense, Google remembers my IP. After a while, I disconect my modem/cable/whatever. ISP can assign my IP address to anyone else then, and clicks from that users won’t count because Google still believe it is me clicking on ads?! I don’t think so…

  • Gang0rraZ

    From the Desk of Gang0rraZ
    Friday May 25 10:45AM
    The Internet

    Dear Milos,

    I oversimplified it to not get into all the technical details. To avoid the problem you mention they would simply record more information, not only the ip. For example, to make it more improbable, they could record the user agent string as well “”Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; (R1 1.5); .NET CLR 2.0.50727)” in addition to the ip.

    Now a more evil, I mean “advanced” approach is to use the Google toolbar with PageRank or Desktop Search to notify Google when you change ips. They would not do this in the open and would probably hide the notification in a hashed value.

    Your pal,

  • netmeg

    They’re matching something up, whether or not you are logged in to your Google account. I have occasionally had “accidental” clicks over the years. I have three IP numbers from which I log in to my AdSense account; one at home and two at work, depending on whether or not I’m on the cable or the dsl connection. The two work IPs have been the same for years, the one at home changes every six to eight months or so. Google has never once attributed any earnings to my accidental clicks, and I’m pretty sure about this, because on the few occasions that it’s happened, I’ve looked for it. They record the click, but there’s zero earnings for it. That happens whether or not I’m logged in to one of my Google accounts at the time of the click.

  • SEOrefugee

    Danny, you and I both know there’s no way they would catch it and yet, lots of people readily believe Google’s AdSense/AdWords fraud numbers. That’s always baffled me.

    If they don’t catch it, they must not know about it. If they know about it, then why don’t they catch it?

    I don’t know whether the AdSense team intentionally lies to the public or if they just don’t get it but either way, it’s disturbing.

  • vsd 32

    Really is a great title for this entry but i don’t know if we really shoud beleive it: ???
    Google AdSense Says Don’t Worry About Accidental Clicks, No One Will Notice

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