Recover From “Two-Click” AdSense Penalty On Mobile

by | Jun 22, 2017 | Industry News, Monetization & Ad Earnings | 62 comments

Recover From “Two-Click” AdSense Penalty

Publishers leveraging Google AdSense ad units on their site have recently noticed a new Google penalty affecting their ad earnings. Both AdSense publishers and larger publishing groups that leverage Google AdX  (and serving AdSense ad units) were caught off guard by this latest change. This penalty is often referred to as the “Two-Click” AdSense Penalty.

google adsense penalty

Below, I’ll show you exactly what the penalty is, how to check if you’re being affected by it, and what to do in case you want to remove the AdSense penalty.

What is the “Doubleclick” AdSense Penalty?

You’re probably not sure what the “Two-Click” –  or double click AdSense penalty is, but are likely reading this because you’re concerned it could be affecting you (or will affect you in the future). There isn’t a cut and dry answer that I can give you. I can only give you a Google answer. Below is Google’s response to our inquiry about a publisher affected by the penalty.

FROM GOOGLE: “I took a look at the invalid activity deductions on your account and they are due to users on your site accidentally clicking on AdSense ad units.

You can reduce incidences of accidental clicking by making sure your ad implementation doesn’t encourage clicking on the ad units and can’t be mistaken as site content. Begin by reviewing your ad implementation to ensure;

  • Ads are not placed too close to other clickable content. You can do this by increasing the distance between the ad unit and your site’s content.
  • Any navigation buttons (e.g. next page icon) are positioned below above any ad units.
  • All your ads are clearly labelled as ad units by using “Advertisements” or “Sponsored links” above the ad unit.

In an effort to protect our traffic systems we can only share certain details about the invalid activity on your account, but hopefully this will be enough for you to work with:
Your earnings were deducted due to the detection of invalid activity particularly on Mobile (but also on Desktop).”

There you have it. A very Google answer; yet it does provide us with enough insight to investigate and solve the problem.

Am I affected by this double click AdSense penalty

decrease in adsense ad earning

The number one warning sign of the penalty is decreased AdSense earnings from AdSense ad units. This is super easy to check in Ezoic. Check earnings/EPMV by a device for a sudden dip in mobile EPMV to see if you could be affected by this issue.

adsense ad penalty

The next step in diagnosing the issue is to see if you are being affected by the penalty. This will require you to install the Google Publisher Toolbar. The toolbar will allow you to see if there is an added click necessary for users once they click on an ad unit (this means users would have to actually click an ad twice for it to take them to the advertiser’s website).

google ctrSign-in to the toolbar and enable the overlay to begin viewing your pages with AdSense ad units. If you have an ad (or several) in locations where the CTR (click through rate) suddenly fell off a cliff (declined significantly) this is your smoking gun! The reason for this is that users now actually have to double-click AdSense ad units once the penalty is in affect. Keep in mind this only happens for Google ads. Other ad providers (e.g. Criteo) will not have the penalty present for their ads.

A decline in overall EPMV and CTR on your current AdSense ad units are indicative qualities of this penalty taking place.

Getting rid of the Two-Click AdSense Penalty

Now you probably want to know how to identify all ad units with invalid activity to fix it…

  1. Run a report in ADX to identify ad units with high CTR (if you’re an Ezoic customer, your account representative can help you with this if you’re not sure how to do it on your own). See all of the ones that have fallen off in the same manner recently (you can also just repeat the step from the last section and use the Google Publisher Toolbar to do this).
  2. After the ad unit is identified, either delete it or reduce sizes to smaller sizes on mobile only – e.g. 320×100 (no boxes) and add extra padding, 30px top and bottom.

This will likely fix the issue; although the results will not be instantaneous. This can be the frustrating part, but just remain diligent and ensure you’re monitoring the potential problem units and your EPMV.

adsense ad penalty revenue

What else we know recovering from the two-click penalty

A two-click AdSense penalty does not receive a violation notice from Google; nor are there any notifications in the publisher’s account if they are being affected by this (from Ezoic or Google).

The penalty is an automated change by Google based on sites getting a high percentage of accidental clicks. Penalties are temporary. Typically, they are lifted within 2-4 weeks (sometimes sooner) after Google does another round of automated site reviews.

Be patient and your missing revenue will return to normal levels after the penalty is removed.

Wrapping up

Share your experiences with this penalty below. I’ll monitor the threads and contribute however I can to help. If you’re using the Ezoic platform, you can reach out to your account rep for assistance.

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62 Comments

  1. maheder

    Is that you mean that if you reduce ads above-the-fold, the penalty doesn’t instantly disappear?

    Reply
  2. tahseen

    Nice and helpful. This will help me to be more careful. Thanks.

    Reply
  3. ioanna

    Hi! very helpfull!thank you..two questions..
    1)Typically, they are lifted within 2-4 weeks (sometimes sooner) after Google does another round of automated site reviews. This means that it will be lifted anyhow? or after you make the changes?
    2) the text ad in the photo:” monitor the ads after you ve applied changes”, the arrow button shows something? it changes form for some reason?

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      1.) If you’re being penalized for the double click violation, you will likely see it removed in 10-14 days after the correction, but this isn’t a hard and fast timeline. You need to make the correct changes and be patient.
      2.) There is no change here in the way the ads appear on the surface.

      Reply
      • ioanna

        thank you Tyler

        Reply
  4. Rather Notsay

    I am having this frustrating problem with one off my websites.
    The website is online for 6 years making 6 figures a year with 70% mobile traffic (past 3 years).
    Revenue dropped 93%! for mobile devices.

    Google Adsense made with their 32% share more than 400K over my website
    and now they just dropped me without a warning what so ever.

    After adding extra padding and labels I contact Adsense support to check the status.
    Got a reply that it was good I made the change and now is policy complaint.

    It now is 46 days later and still no change in revenue.
    The only answer I get from Google is “We can’t give you a definite time frame”

    GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGRRR
    Understand my frustration?

    Reply
  5. ioanna

    hi again!
    i contacted google adsense support and they informed me that the two click ads penalty has been removed. my earnings are still very very low,rpm,ctr etc.(same as it was during the penalty)
    Does it take time to get back to normal, since the penalty is removed?

    Reply
    • Pgz

      Same here, have you recovered? My ctr from 1% is now 0,22% :/

      Reply
    • Robert

      Has your site recovered?

      Reply
  6. saveinsta

    Same problem…
    Mobile Italian traffic only was hit – 0.19% ctr dropped to 0.01%…. I added ,,Advertisment” label, a 20px padding top/bottom, anything else that I might need to do to speed things up?

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      Nothing you can do to speed up the process. If you work with Ezoic, contact your account rep. They can usually review and make sure everything is properly fixed and then work with Google to ensure things get coordinated quickly.

      Reply
  7. John

    I had same problem on 2 weeks, it still not remove on my site. Help me

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      Are you confident you have removed the issue?

      If so, it can often take a while for Google to remove the penalty.

      Reply
      • Robert

        How long would you consider a while being?

        Reply
        • Tyler Bishop

          Several weeks.

          Reply
      • John

        Google had removed the penalty for one day on my website, but then my website still has this problem

        Reply
        • Tyler Bishop

          What type of data were you looking at that made you believe that they had actually removed the penalty?

          Reply
          • John

            I tried to click ads, i saw ctr increase on June 16, but from june 17 my site is still the same

  8. John

    a month has passed, hasn’t yet solution for this problem

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      What have you done to ensure that this has been resolved? Also, have you been able to actually confirm that you have the two-click penalty?

      Reply
      • John

        I added a label to the ad, increasing the distance to over 30px. I found out that my site has a large amount of traffic from Facebook bots (25% of ad impressions), could it be the reason for this penalty?

        Reply
        • Tyler Bishop

          This would not be the reason for a 2-click penalty.

          2-click penalty, or “double click ” penalty, can be determined using this blog. Not something that has to be guessed.

          Reply
      • Jay

        Great article, Tyler. I saw my CTR for an ancient and very consistent site go go over a cliff – from 1% to trending between .2 – .3%. Having read the article through 3x, I’m sure I’m being thick here, but precisely how do you confirm that you have a double-click penalty?

        Reply
  9. Robert

    I am noticing slightly lower CPC after recovering from the double click. Is this normal or could be due to seasonality?

    Reply
  10. Robert

    Thank you for letting me know about this article. I believe it is seasonality as well, but it’s never been this low before during July. If it is because of smart pricing, do you have an article on that or know how long it takes to recover from smart pricing after making the correct changes?

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      Usually, the seasonal drop from July will last – at max – 4-6 weeks. Since we are in a record-breaking year, if it is seasonal you will see it rise back up in August. Pretty much every major site sees a drop to start in July.

      Reply
  11. Robert

    The reason I’m wondering is because the drop is 40% to 50% in CPC and I believe it started on July 1st but it is hard to tell because that is the same day that the double click penalty was lifted. My CPC right now is 2 or 3 cents average and it is freaking me out. What is your opinion?

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      That it is in all likelihood seasonality.

      Reply
  12. Robert

    Ever since my site recovered from the double click penalty, I’ve been seeing a lot more rich media ads being served than usual. Is this normal? Is there anyway I can bring text ad ratio back up?

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      Robert, there are a lot of other phenomena that could cause you to see different types of ads. Do you have any objective data showing that more rich ads are showing? What is the concern that you have with them? Just curious.

      Reply
      • Robert

        Yes. It shows in my reports that the amount of rich media ads on my site has increased. I am only concerned because it is causing a decrease in CTR and earnings. Text ads seem to do better on my site. Is there any way I can increase the amount of text ads shown on my site without opting for text ads only? I heard that lowers overall CPC

        Reply
  13. Robert

    Would be you be able to give me any advice on what variables may affect text ad ratio? All of your repsonses have been very helpful

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      Rich media is always bought on cpm, not cpc. This might mean that Google has seen that your eCPM is higher with more rich media ads. It may be optimized around this now. This might mean lower CPC and lower CTR, but better CPM rates. But CPMs and CPC are both terrible metrics for publishers to optimize around. Rev should always be optimized around ePMV. Thats what Ezoic does.

      Reply
  14. instagram story

    Thank you for your article, very helpful for my optimization.

    Reply
  15. Robert

    Hi. I am seeing a new text ad style where instead of arrows it shows and open button on the as on almost every site. Have you seen this?

    Reply
  16. JH

    Hi Tylor,

    First, I would like to thank about this article. It’s the only clear one that I’ve found on internet regarding double click penalty.

    As you may already guessed, I am also facing the DC Penalty from adsense. And this IS LASTING since nearly 1 month..

    I tried your tips : paddings, new ad blocks, “advestisement” text … but nothing changed except some “wrong” signs of recovery …

    Now, I am using auto ads since 2 weeks, guessing that google will only place ads according to its own policy but … still have this penalty .

    I was previously using Ezoic but I stopped it because of some speed issues…

    Now, I have two questions :

    -Does the recovery could happen if I continue to use Auto Ads ?
    -If I switch again with Ezoic, I will get some help from my Ezoic advisor and surely get rid of this penalty ? ( I know that the customer support is great around here ).

    Thank You

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      1.) Auto Ads will not fix this issue if it is truly DC penalty (it could be something else if you’re not 100% sure it is DC). Auto ads actually can often cause more issues.

      2.) Ezoic team could help diagnose issue and ultimately prevent it. Can also help you understand if it is really DC or not.

      Reply
      • Peter

        Turn off Anchor Ads (it’s one of Auto Ads) – this unit usually causes Two Click mechanism and wait 4-5 days to clear your domain by Google.

        Reply
  17. Robert

    Hi. I recently received the double click penalty on mobile, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting every browser or if it does, some ads are still one clicks. Have you heard of this before? Please let me know.

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      Typically this penalty affects all “nessie” ads. The ones that include text and an arrow click button.

      Reply
      • Robert

        It is affecting all ads, but it is showing a blue button that says visit site when the ads are clicked, is this what you are talking about?

        Reply
        • Tyler Bishop

          This is different

          Reply
          • Robert

            Okay, this is what has happened to
            Me in the past when I have brought this up. Have you heard of something like this? It has been happening since 2017.

          • Tyler Bishop

            It is a common practice to see this.

      • Peter

        Penalty affects only mobile, all browser, all devices and networks. Invalid clicks from desktop can activate Two Click mechanism too.

        Google won’t display most of CPM campaigns, only CPC and on those campaigns will test if users clicks accidentally on ads. If you turn on Console on your browser (Safari – develop – responsive) and try to click on ad on mobile you can see that every event (network tab) is sent to Google. Google knows when you try to click on every ad and measures it.

        Coverage of available ads will drop drastically.

        Reply
  18. Robert

    Okay, and does this also usually last 2 to 3 weeks from what you’ve seen?

    Reply
  19. Allen

    Tyler

    Great information. I think I’m lost on a step – I’ve installed the Publisher Toolbar and activated the overlays on my site. What exactly does one do from there to confirm the “visit site” popup?

    Reply
  20. Harpreet Khan

    Thank you So Much Sir ? for your article, very helpful for my optimization

    Reply
  21. Jon Atle Sandbakken

    Hey,

    I’ve been back and forth with Google Adsense trying to figure out why i got the penalty. it was turned on and of various times since August 2018. This was only affecting the mobile version of some of my sites. What is crazy is that in January 2019, everything looked quite good and the penalty had been removed for some weeks after so changes I did. Then I removed all fixed ads and left only google auto ad on the two of my sites (mobile version). A couple of days later Google is adding the penalty again! Google is now running the show and can place the ad wherever they want. If it is placed too close to any button for accidental clicks or whatever, it is google auto ad causing it. This is really frustrating. I think my next step will be to turn of Google auto ads and see if things go back to normal because last fall has been really bumpy and a huge loss in revenue. Google don’t seem to bother much, just blaming that bot. They are very kind in writing on emails though. But doesn’t help me..

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      Jon, this does seem to be a big problem with Auto Ads. You may want to try Ezoic if you’re having issues with compliance. Ezoic can ensure you don’t violate policy automatically.

      Reply
  22. James

    I have been dealing with this double Click Penalty for around 22 days. Should I recover from it soon? I have removed ads and added advertisement tags to the ads that are still on my site?

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      James, have you verified it as the two-click penalty? Advertisement tags probably won’t help solve this problem at all. The advice in the article is the best practice. If you work with a Google partner, I’d let them know and they may be able to advocate for a faster review. Other than that, there is not a lot that can be done.

      Reply
      • James

        Alright, thank you for letting me know. But these penalties are temporary and after approprtiate changes are made and the review is done the penalty will be lifted? Inhabe also added around 40 to 50px of spacing between the ads and any content.

        Reply
        • Tyler Bishop

          Yes. If the problem is solved and it is actually the two-click penalty, it will be resolved eventually.

          Reply
  23. James

    I can also confirm it is the two click penalty because I have had some users on my site tell me.

    Reply
  24. James

    What’s the longest you have heard of this penalty lasting? I have confirmed that it is the two click penalty.

    Reply
    • Tyler Bishop

      There is no uniform time period, unfortunately.

      Reply
  25. henry

    Great post thanks. So what exactly is the penalty? (1) serving you ads that require “double” clicks to the destination page; or (2) serving you low-revenue ads? If Google continues to serve you the same ad quality even though visitors now require two-steps clicking to the destination, that shouldnt materially affect legit revenue since people who want to visit the advertiser will go thru the quick two clicks to get there. So when an apparent “double click” penalty “results” in lower cpc, ctr, earnings etc., is it really a penalty by Google or is it the system weeding off the “accidental” clicks? BTW, my CPC and earnings (but not clicks) just dropped in the last two days by some 70%!!! I think one of my top performing ad units was too close to a navigation text (I think). Anyway, I tried to follow Tyler’s suggestion of installing the gg publisher toolbar. I got stuck at “… and enable the overlay ” as I see no option to enable anything.

    Reply
  26. Francisco

    This penalty not only applies the double click filter, but also reduces ad coverage up to 20%

    In other words, for every 100 visits, only 20 will see ads.

    I have had this problem for a year, sometimes it is solved for a month, but then it comes back.

    I have tried everything, to give space to my ads, to label them with the word “Advertising”.

    Ezoic has a solution for this?

    Reply
  27. Szűcs László

    Hello,

    I have the same problem, and it started 4 weeks ago, and I tried everything, and there is no solution. I think the problem is not at me.
    Is it not possible the problem the too high traffic? Because facebook gave me double organic reach since last month when I share my websites, and maybe they are not real members, or I do not know. Is it not possible that it is the reason for the penalty? If I am right, I never solve this problem… I can see on forums, now many people have the same problem without solution.

    Reply

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