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A way to enable publishers to click without costing advertisers

I think this would be a plausible and helpful solution all-'round



11:20 am on Aug 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As a publisher, I've often wanted to click on ads on my site to learn more about the advertiser and assess relevancy for my site and so on. But of course, I've avoided doing this both out of ethical and practical considerations.

Some have suggested that one could just go to the URL that's listed on the ad, but that isn't always helpful, since advertisers often link their ads to internal pages (e.g., theirsite.com/foo/august-promotion.html even when only theirsite.com is shown)

So I just came up with an idea that I think would be amenable to publishers, advertisers, and Google.

I call it a "SafeClick Spot."

Google would designate a very small (e.g., 5x5) area in, say, the lower right corner of all AdSense ads that -- when clicked -- would take one directly to the advertiser's page but without charging the advertiser or crediting the publisher with click revenues.

This small square would be invisible and not generally known to the general public... and even if 'regular folks' found out about it, they'd have no incentive to click on it (why would they care about whether an advertiser got charged or not?)

This SafeClick Spot would not only enable publishers to check out ads on their own site, but would also allow them to look at ads on related or competing sites without triggering fraud alerts or causing similar problems.

What do you think?

Denis at eVR

11:35 am on Aug 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have seen several posts that refer to a Google email describing how to 'extract' and view the link from an ad without triggering a clickthrough. Surely this is enough without the complication of 'click on the hidden link'?


3:48 pm on Aug 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The idea sounds interesting but similar to the IP proposal, I personally think it less practical to implement. How could you make sure that the visitors to your site would not click it?


3:56 pm on Aug 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jenstar is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

You can right click the link and view properties, and you can see the exact destination URL. You can then copy & paste just the destination URL from the full Google AdSense URL, and use it to view the site.

If you look at this thread [webmasterworld.com], it appears as though Google will be doing something so you can block your own IP.

I think having a 5x5 area would be a risky thing - a publisher might not hit it exactly, or a visitor might do a sloppy click and click on it rather than the link that would pay the publisher.


3:50 pm on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

A 5x5 would be even worse than the "related searches" feature that was yanked from the outcry. As others have said, just extract the site from the URL. I can write you a script that will do this if you want... Sticky me.


11:48 pm on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have to admit, some good arguments have been raised here, and upon noticing that -- yep, I CAN pretty easily find the URL via right-clicking, I suppose that is indeed the safest bet.

Michael Coley

3:37 am on Aug 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Why not just use cookies? Google could set a cookie when the webmaster uses the online interface, then not count the clicks if the cookie is set.



4:47 am on Aug 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You could make a bookmark like this:
javascript:(function(){ var 
lnks = document.links, n = null; for(n = 0; n < lnks.length; ++n)

{ lnks[n].setAttribute("onclick", "alert(this.href); window.location.href=this.href;

return false;"); } })();

In theory this will write an onclick handler to every link on the page (i.e., including the ad banners); then when the links are clicked, the handler will alert you to the link href, then load the link href as the page href, and cancel the click event.

If I understand things correctly (which I probably don't, wouldn't be anything new ;) ), this will allow you to simply click on your own ads to follow them, without sending the clicks to Google (since the click event gets canceled in the browser).

The bookmarklet could also be done like this to open the links in a new window (target "Ads"):

javascript:(function(){ var lnks = document.links, n = null; for(n = 0; n 
< lnks.length; ++n){ lnks[n].setAttribute("onclick", "alert(this.href);
void(window.open(this.href,'Ads','')); return false;"); } })();



1. I am NOT responsible for ANY USE of the above code! Use only at your OWN discretion. If you try it and I was wrong, and Google still sees your clicks--DON'T BLAME ME--you have been warned.

2. If you use the same window version of the bookmarklet, you HAVE TO run it each time you have viewed an ad and returned to the original page. If you view an ad, then hit the back button, then view another without running the bookmarklet again, YOUR CLICKS WILL BE SENT TO GOOGLE!

[edited by: Laisha at 11:56 am (utc) on Aug. 18, 2003]
[edit reason] to fix sideways scroll [/edit]


5:57 am on Aug 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"Why not just use cookies?"

I've seen this suggestion pop up a couple of times - but I suspect that it wouldn't help much.

The ads appear in an iframe - which means that any cookie set by the ad code would appear as a "third party cookie" to browsers such as IE6 - and may very well be blocked by the client's privacy settings.


6:43 am on Aug 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Okay, maybe I have missed something in these various threads, but why not just use the Google Adsense tester:

color_link=FFFFFF&color_url=DAA520&color_border=660000&url=<INSERT YOUR PAGE HERE>

Replace <INSERT YOUR PAGE HERE> with the page you wish to test. If your set of ads is quite volatile it may be worth hitting refresh a couple of times.

I have found that this returns exactly the same set of ads that Adsense is currently serving up to my pages. I can then click on the links in the test page without fear, since I have identified myself as "ca-test" instead of my publisher ID.

This has been extremely handy in finding and getting rid of some ads for rather questionable sites.

[edited by: Laisha at 11:55 am (utc) on Aug. 18, 2003]
[edit reason] to fix sideways scroll [/edit]


6:56 am on Aug 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Wouldn't that still charge the advertiser?

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