Chris13 - 6:15 pm on Jul 7, 2013 (gmt 0)
I also used the ads to break up long pages. There was lots of space around the ads, but when the Nessie buttons came in the CTR jumped. I now believe people saw the Nessie arrows as a Next page button or More Content type button. Unfortunately, I didn't detect what was going on at that time. I had added over a million pages to my site only 10 days before the Nessie buttons became live and I was attributing my increase in income to the new pages, which part of it was. But it wasn't until I looked back at the graphs did I see that the increasing income accelerated on after 9 Dec 2012.
In Jan and Feb of 2013 I was noticing clicks I believed to invalid and I made several reports to google about these, including ip addresses and what I saw going on. But I didn't make the connection with the Nessie arrows. Of course, google didn't once respond to my reports. :/
I don't think the morons made up 90% of the clicks. I believe google levies penalties by adjusting their algo for what it considered a "invalid click". In other words, the invalid click algo is different for different sites, and therefore, you are seeing less clicks than are actually occurring. I make this statement by comparing pre-Nessie CTR with the post-Nessie Removal CTR. Over time these CTRs should be similar, but they aren't.
My CTR is now 1/3rd what is was at the end of Dec 2012 and 1/2 of what it was pre-Nessie. But I've cut the number of adsense adunits on each page, so there is less adsense ads to be clicked on. Overall I've gotten my RPM back to around 60% of where it was pre-Nessie. I use the pre-Nessie RPM as my measure as to how far back I've gotten the site, not the inflated Nessie values.
The Nessie buttons work well for many people but they had some very pecular effects on some sites and it doesn't appear that google considered the consequences of those arrows before going live with them. Google claimed 5000 sites had the Nessie buttons removed in Mar, but in my regular browsering of the web I see more sites without them than with them, so I'm guessing the number is actually far higher.
It's taken months to recover from this, mostly because it was all new as to what was happening and why, and I'm fairly new to this game as my site only went live with adsense last Oct.
Here's what ended up working for me thus far:
I removed the "most clicked on" ad spaces which separated sections of my pages. There's no ads in this space at all. I created all new adunits and don't use the old ones anymore. I've done a complete layout change to my pages. I brought in media.net to fill in additional advertizing.
I take ad spaces with low cpc away from adsense and give them to media.net. I believe that if I want to see more competition with the ad networks then I need to do my part and support them when they come along, so I do.
Overall adsense still has more space on my site than media.net, but by working it this way the income from both is rising and June was my first up month since Feb. [I would have been up in May if I had known what to do.]
I see way fewer disappearing clicks, although there is the occassional butthead who comes along and clicks on ads multiple times and I can see a glob of clicks in a very short period of time. But I believe that is something google gets everywhere and is use to dealing with it. Someone tell me if I'm wrong about that. I have over 20,000 visitors a week, so a couple of buttheads a week is probably normal.
In all that time the only communication I've gotten from google is asking me to put up more adunits. :/
Hopefully this data will help you out some. I still haven't reached my target of getting my total RPM back up to pre-Nessie levels and I may never get to that point. My next actions are going to be adding more content. I'm confident that I've done everything I know to do to prevent inadvertant clicks. Maybe google will recognize this.