What is it?

If you have clicked on an ad on your site and seen a modal popup in the ad like the image below, you have the confirm click penalty (also known as the double click penalty).

Why is it called the confirm click penalty? Users must click the ad once initially and a second time on the "Visit Site" modal before they are sent to the advertiser landing page to confirm that they actually meant to click on it.

Publishers receive this penalty from an automated process by Google. Unfortunately, there is not a notification sent to publishers when they are given the penalty, and there is not a notice sent when the penalty has been removed. Proper is currently working on a tool to detect the presence of the penalty to minimize revenue impact.

The penalty can happen to an entire site globally, or to specific ad unit. The best way to check your ad units at a macro level is by looking at their click through rates over time. If you see an unexpected, significant drop off, you may want to visit your site and click on the ad unit to see if it has been affected.

Why does it happen?

Google's automated process triggers the confirm click violation when they detect that a publisher's layout may induce clicks or cause accidental clicks.

Google gives many examples in their documentation that publishers should avoid on their sites, but here are some highlights:

  • Lack of Padding
    • If you have an ad next to a UI element, navigation bar, or a button on a page that receives a large amount of attention (think the 'Next Page' button on galleries), and it does not have a sufficient amount of padding, you could be a candidate for the confirm click penalty. On game sites, Google recommends a minimum distance of 150 pixels between the edge of the game and the ad.
  • Making Content Look Like Ads
    • If you try make your content look like the ads that are placed on the page, you may receive the confirm click penalty. In Google's policy, they state that you are not allowed to disguise ads in any way. An example of this would be making article tiles for a blog website the same size and style as ads, and interspersing ads in a grid of articles for users to click on.
  • Placing Ads Under a Misleading Header
    • Ads should be given a proper header disclosure, like "Sponsored" or "Advertisement". It's against Google's policy to label ads with "Recommended" or "Click Here".
  • Content Jumping
    • As the page loads, if elements of the site move around and cause users to accidentally click ads, this can cause the confirm click penalty to appear. Here is a resource for how to fix this in your CSS.

How will it affect me?

Unfortunately, all else being equal, your revenue will go down.

Google counts a click once a users makes it to the advertiser's landing page. Once the confirm click penalty is in place, this will limit the number of accidental clicks you receive; this means that your click through rate will go down, and with a lower click through rate, your eCPMs will suffer and so will your revenue.

How to fix it?

There is no silver bullet for fixing the confirm click penalty. Some people may claim that they have a solution to resolve the issue, but as of this writing, no solution exists.

To get rid of the confirm click penalty, do an analysis of the affected units and identify any issues that may cause accidental clicks, fix these issues, and then...wait.

The last phase of that process may be the most difficult for publishers to handle, but give it time. Google's detection system will scan your site again, and, if you made the necessary changes, the confirm click penalty will be removed.

In most instances, the penalty will be removed in two to fours weeks after adjustments are made.