What Are Invalid Clicks, And How Do They Affect You?

Abisola Tanzako | Feb 29, 2024

Invalid clicks are a common issue in online advertising and can be a significant source of frustration for those running ads or other forms of digital promotion.

Whether you’re an advertiser running online ads, a content publisher, or an affiliate marketer, the number of ad clicks you receive, large or small, indicates the effectiveness and appeal of your ads or programs. These clicks benefit your business as they can increase sales and revenue, given that the website visitors who click on the ads could become customers.

However, not all clicks on your ads will necessarily translate into sales. There may be instances where your ad receives clicks, but these clicks do not offer a real opportunity for conversion into sales or revenue. This is because they are from something other than genuine potential customers, rendering them invalid clicks.

The goal of this post is to offer a thorough comprehension of invalid clicks, their causes, how they affect you, and some tips on minimizing them.

What are invalid clicks?

Invalid clicks are ad clicks that do not originate from authentic user interest. They are under fraudulent or illegitimate clicks. That can arise from deliberate fraudulent actions or unintentional and recurrent clicks triggered by malicious software or automated systems.

According to Google, invalid clicks are clicks on ads that aren’t a result of genuine user interest, including intentionally fraudulent traffic and accidental or duplicate clicks.

Causes of invalid clicks

1. Accidental clicks

Accidental clicks refer to unintended engagements with an ad, resulting in invalid clicks. This typically happens when a user is navigating or interacting with a different section of their screen and unintentionally clicks on an ad. Google estimates that nearly 50% of all mobile ad clicks are accidental. These inadvertent clicks are frequently a consequence of poor ad placement.

Although most accidental clicks are harmless, they are the predominant source of invalid clicks that can swiftly deplete an advertising budget. This is especially true if they originate from aggressive ad placements, fraudulent clicks by rival advertisers, or advertising botnets from harmful sources.

2. Automated clicks

Invalid clicks can originate from automated clicks produced by malware and botnets. These computerized systems operating on Internet servers or compromised devices pose a significant challenge in terms of identification. This automated software generates substantial fraudulent clicks and traffic upon deployment.

Additionally, they can be programmed to mimic actual user behavior, which can deplete your ad budget by making their traffic more difficult to discern.

How do invalid clicks affect you?

Invalid clicks affect you as a marketer through the following:

  • Reduce your return on ad spend (ROAS)

Invalid clicks diminish your return on ad spend by undermining the efficacy of your campaign. Your campaign’s overall effectiveness will improve if a sizable amount of your budget is for correct clicks. The funds that could have been allocated to engage with actual potential customers are squandered on deceptive clicks instead.

  • Lower your quality score.

A high volume of invalid clicks can diminish your quality score, resulting in an increased CPC and inferior ad placements. Google employs intricate algorithms known as the Quality Score to detect invalid clicks. This quality score dictates the cost-per-click (CPC), your ads’ placement, and your ad’s relevance.

  • High cost per customer acquisition

Invalid clicks can adversely affect the high costs associated with customer acquisition by prompting automated campaigns to pursue more irrelevant conversions, which fail to generate revenue.

Additionally, they can tarnish a website’s reputation, resulting in a suspension from Google and a decrease in ad revenue.

  • Distort performance data

Invalid clicks can adversely impact your performance data, complicating identifying revenue sources.

A surge in invalid clicks can obscure the effectiveness of various advertising channels and strategies for generating revenue, thereby influencing your data-driven decisions.

Also, you might receive a lot of clicks but only a few leads, leading you to a rise in the click-through rate (CTR) but a fall in the conversion rate (CR).

  • Exhausted ad budget

Every click on your advertisements costs you revenue as an advertiser. If a significant proportion of these clicks are deemed invalid, your ad budget will be exhausted since you will pay for clicks with no chance of conversions.

  • Loss of Trust in Digital Advertising

When bots or other criminal entities target your ads, it damages your brand’s reputation and creates many invalid clicks, which might compromise the trust of digital advertising platforms.

  • Removal of Ads from Advertising Platforms

Invalid clicks have the potential to remove your ads from advertising platforms. Publishers discovered to produce invalid clicks may face penalties, including being prohibited from these platforms, which could result in a potential customer loss.

Tips on how to minimize invalid clicks:

  1. Monitor your ad traffic and site visitors: Monitoring your traffic reports using URL channels, custom channels, or ad units helps you understand the impact of changes to traffic sources or implementation on your ad traffic.
  2. Refrain from clicking your ads: Refrain from clicking on your ads. Even though it appears to be harmless and seems permissible, it is most often a common cause of invalid clicks.
  3. Be cautious of unreliable and low-quality partners: Be extremely careful when choosing your advertising partners. Collaborating with unreliable or low-quality entities could heighten the risk of invalid clicks.
  4. Implement non-human click protection: Utilize PPC protection software, to help you oversee, identify, and block invalid clicks. This software leverages advanced algorithms to detect patterns of invalid clicks.
  5. Employ CAPTCHAs: Utilize analytics to monitor, spot, and counteract invalid clicks and other fraudulent activity.
  6. Keep an eye on your keywords and ad budget: You can spot any abnormal activity by conducting regular reviews of your keywords and ad budget. Like a sudden surge in clicks or costs, indicating an invalid activity
  7. Block suspicious IP addresses: Blocking suspicious IP addresses can be time-consuming, but it is another excellent measure to minimize invalid clicks. If you observe an increase in invalid clicks from specific IP addresses, consider blocking them
  8. Avoid low-quality backlinks and excessive external plugins or software: Utilizing these excessive external plugins or software and low-quality backlinks can sometimes lead to fraudulent activity that results in invalid clicks.


The non-human click industry, on average, rakes in $44 billion annually from clicks on paid campaigns. They harm your marketing strategies and squander your budget.

This underscores the severity of invalid clicks in online advertising, impacting both advertisers and publishers alike. Marketers must comprehend these invalid clicks and how they can influence advertising campaigns. This post aims to be a valuable resource in your journey to reduce invalid clicks.

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