Two-Click Penalty: What You Need to Know

Contributor, April 1, 2020

Two-Click Penalty: What You Need to Know

Photo Credit – Hal Gatewood

We frequently hear from publishers interested in learning how to build a policy-compliant website to reduce the worry of receiving a Two-Click penalty and, conversely, from publishers seeking to course-correct after receiving one.

As a Google Certified Publishing Partner (GCPP), we work with publishers worldwide to assist them in monetizing their traffic through a multitude of valuable and useful means.

Whether it is through display, video, or native monetization, or setting up Google Ad Manager 360 for their ad serving and management, it is safe to assume that we have seen and done it all for publishers.

In clear terms, two-click penalties can be financially devastating for growing publishers and have the power to completely negate and reverse all positive progress a publisher has and seeks to make from their traffic.

As a result, we thought that this would be a good time to share our time and knowledge of “Two-Click” penalties so publishers can be more aware of what it is and which steps to take to avoid it from occurring and affecting your financial bottom-line.


Today, we will address the following about two-click penalties:

      • What is the “Two-Click” Penalty?
      • What happens after a two-click penalty is sent to a website?
      • What are the effects of a two-click penalty?
      • What are the best practices that we recommend for avoiding a two-click penalty?


    What is “Two-Click” Penalty?

    In specific, non-compliant scenarios, a two-click penalty is when a user is required to click an ad twice, rather than once, before being taken to the advertiser’s destination URL.

    Usually, in a standard scenario for users, the user clicks on an ad on a website and is then taken directly to the ad’s landing page.

    Two-click penalties most often occur in a mobile scenario, rather than on desktop. Within the scope of the two-click penalty, publishers are not allowed to encourage accidental clicks. Specifically, this pertains to placing links, play buttons, download buttons, navigation buttons (e.g., “Previous” or “Next”), game windows, video players, drop-down menus, or applications near ads.

    When a users’ click is not registered, and therefore the user is not arriving at the destination URL, revenue will not be earned by the publisher for that ad.

    What happens after a website receives a two-click penalty?

    After a website receives a two-click penalty, a button with the text “Visit Site” will appear over ads served on the website whenever a user clicks on it.

    After that, the user will have to explicitly click the “Visit Site” button to reach the ad’s landing page.

    This “Visit Site” button is Google’s mechanism for verifying and requiring intent called a “confirmed click,” to signify whether the user sought to click the ad or conversely, whether it was an accidental click and not intended.  

    What are the effects of a two-click penalty?

    Google is on record saying that the addition of the “confirmed click” button isn’t a punitive measure against the publisher. Instead, it functions as a means to ensure the validity of the user’s intent in a problematic environment.

    The reason for the “confirmed click” process is to eliminate accidental clicks to ensure that advertisers do not have to pay for unintentional clicks.

    We would be remiss if we didn’t say that the presence of an additional layer does cause a decline in the Ad Units click-through-rate (CTR), which results in reduced revenue for the publisher.

    Requiring two clicks to verify intentional clicks often triggers a drop in an ad’s click-through rate (CTR), which, as a result, causes effective CPMs (eCPMs) to plummet for a publisher.

    Furthermore, the existence of confirmed clicks for the user has the power to decrease motivation to click on ads in general, which has a far greater consequence on the industry in general.

    Decreased motivation to go to the intended advertiser URL is harmful and lowers confidence in online advertising.

    What do we recommend as best practices for avoiding a two-click penalty?

    If you use AdSense or Google Ad Manager, it is essential to be aware and knowledgeable of how to maintain a policy-compliant website to continue to receive the revenue you work hard to earn. We believe that this is where we can come in and can help you to steer the ship in the right direction.

    Your website should always strive to be an efficient money-making machine and continually be growing and evolving to changes in the industry that occur.

    Regardless of the size of your website or your current CPM rate, we will assist you in navigating an effective monetization strategy that remains both compliant and profitable.

    We’re experts at policy compliance, and we will take you behind the scenes to demystify the website policy compliance process and show you to comply and thrive.

    When we start working with a publisher, their site(s) goes through a review with our Trust & Safety team. This process of reviewing your website will scan your ad units for policy compliance, identify potential policy issues, and offer clear solutions for how to resolve them.

    Our Publisher team then will work on how to reach your full monetization potential.

    Our experienced and professional monetization team is looking forward to partnering with you and getting to work on your site, get in touch.