The confirmed click penalty, which is also known as 2 click penalty, and “visit site overlay” is no longer shadow penalty and is being officially warned about by Google. This technical gimmick that lets Alphabet protect its advertisers from paying for bad clicks, has been around for quite some time. Still, it was never really acknowledged officially by Google, even though it might have quite an impact on the revenue coming from Google AdX.
A Confirmed click penalty is basically the result of an algorithm from Google, that has its own logic in place to track users' misclicks on ads within the company’s demand. It enforce an additional div element on the creative that once the user clicks on the ad, shows an overlay “Visit site” prompting the user to click one more time on it to confirm its intentions.
The result usually includes a sharp drop in AdX revenue, mostly from demand runs on the CPC model (paying for a click, instead of paying for impressions).
And up until this year, the Google confirmed click penalty came out of nowhere and was frequently left unnoticed. Publishers found out about it only after they’ve either asked their Google rep about the penalty, consulted with an AdOps that is aware of it, accidentally clicking on an affected ad on your own website, or seeing it inside Yield Analytics, where Assertive Yield tracks the presence of the penalty on our clients.
With the confirmed click penalty getting officialized, we now also have a written guide on potential causes for it, with Google sharing these as a piece of advice within the admin panel:
Check your ads for:
And go further in their documentation:
As far as we are aware, the feature is currently rolled out, so keep in mind that it might still not be available for your GAM account, although we’ve seen it already multiple times.
There are of course some aspects of the two-click penalty that are not covered in the documentation. From our experience, these are some of the tips you should be aware of when battling with the algorithm to get back the full scale of your AdX demand:
The penalty often hits in stages - it first appears on particular ad units that have the highest miss click rates according to Google, then it transfers to the domain level and finally, it hits the whole GAM account. Publishers running our product Yield Intelligence can benefit from the fact that we quickly detect when the confirmed click div is added to creatives from AdX and the data collected can be explored historically on the ad unit level (and a lot of other dimensions as well), which makes it easier to recognize where the issues have come from;
Sometimes the penalty may come as a result of bad creatives, coming from particular advertisers. It’s a good practice to occasionally run reports from GAM with “Advertiser” as dimension and block, at least on mobile, certain advertisers with high CTR (anything above 1%); We’ve recently seen a pattern where the penalty is being introduced in some GEOs and is not present in others. It’s worth exploring potential reasons for this, and Yield Intelligence will help you with that;
Don't scale down - if you have control over the levels of traffic you have on the site (i.e. you buy traffic from Facebook, Google, or native widgets), you might intuitively scale down, as you are earning less from AdX. This, unfortunately, could only make things worse, as the algorithm considers the performance over a bigger period of time, and with fewer impressions learning that the cause of the miss clicks is no longer present, it will keep the penalty for longer;
Contact your Google rep - although they have no control over the penalty, as it’s handled entirely by an algorithm, they might help out with heatmaps of where misclicks happen. You can also contact the client success team at Assertive Yield, to perform an analysis to help you out in narrowing the potential causes.
In any case - dealing with the 2 click penalty on your site might be a tedious process, involving AdOps and Dev teams, trying to understand what the root cause may be. Knowing that it exists on your site can help you take measures earlier on, and it’s good that Google has addressed this, making it officialized and thus - easier to spot.