Overview

The relationship between Google, advertisers, and publishers is built on trust. Advertisers rely on the relevance of our ad placement, our reporting statistics, and the quality of the clicks their ads receive. Publishers in turn count on advertiser participation, relevant ads which create a good experience for users, and an accurate and reliable source of income which contributes to the success of their websites and business. We take this trust seriously and we know that the Google advertising networks couldn't exist without it.

We have a global team which is dedicated to staying on top of your concerns, monitoring traffic across Google's ad network, and preventing advertisers from paying for invalid traffic. While they provide protection without you needing to do anything, we also know you want to do whatever you can to ensure the best performance for your ads. We have created this website to aggregate various resources that help you learn about invalid clicks and maintain a successful AdWords or AdSense account.

Click Fraud and Invalid Traffic

You may have heard the terms “click fraud” and “invalid clicks” and wondered how or if they are different. Here is a definition of each:

  • Click fraud refers to clicks generated with malicious or fraudulent intent.
  • Invalid traffic includes both clicks and impressions on AdWords ads that Google suspects to not be the result of genuine user interest. This covers intentionally fraudulent traffic as well as accidental clicks and other mechanically generated traffic. Although advertisers are not charged for these clicks or impressions, this traffic may still result in valuable site visits and conversions.

How and Why Click Fraud Occurs

There are two primary incentives for committing click fraud:

  • AdWords advertisers may try to attack competitors by raising their costs or exhausting their budget early in the day.
  • AdSense publishers may click ads appearing on their own websites in order to inflate revenue.

The most common methods for carrying out click fraud attacks are:

  • Manual clicking
  • Click farms (hiring individuals to manually click ads)
  • Pay-to-click sites (pyramid schemes created by publishers)
  • Click bots (software to automate clicking)
  • Botnets (hijacked computers utilized by click bots)

Why Google and Publishers Care about Invalid Traffic

By maintaining our advertisers' trust and providing a level playing field for all participants in the auction, we make it easier for advertisers to accurately plan their spending and calculate bids which make economic sense for their business. This predictability results in better return on investment, which can lead to increased spend. Invalid traffic which affects an individual advertiser prevents them from bidding the maximum amount they could and results in a less competitive auction. In addition, any advertiser spend diverted to fraudulent publishers represents an opportunity lost for Google and our legitimate publishers to earn more.

Dimension of Invalid Clicks and Click Fraud

The vast majority of all invalid clicks on AdWords ads are caught by our online filters. These filters are constantly being updated and react to a wide variety of traffic patterns and indications of click fraud attacks. On average, invalid clicks account for less than 10% of all clicks on AdWords ads. At our current revenue run rate, the aggregate value of the clicks that we've identified as suspicious or invalid and excluded from what we've charged advertisers is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

If you are an AdWords advertiser, you can see for yourself how many invalid clicks have been proactively filtered from your Google AdWords account.