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There are around 500 Million web users.
There are only maybe 50.000 AdSense publishers.
So I think it's far more good than bed to use the preview tool instead of clicking on ads.
Special if it's a site from people where I know them for years.
As a publisher, I never click my own ads, but I do tend to click quite a lot of ads by my competitors (well, not by, but rather ads displayed on competing or related sites), while doing research. When something catches my eye, I'll click and ad and see what's it all about.
That strikes me as being risky and unfair to advertisers. Try to look at it from the advertiser's point of view: If you were paying 25 cents or 50 cents or a dollar a click, would you want publishers to click on your ads for "research"?
That strikes me as being risky and unfair to advertisers.
I'm on the fence with this one, since it's a competitor and you're researching products, advertisers DO pay a ton of money to get the word out on all their products and a $0.25 click is probably a drop in the bucket of a serious ad budget.
The only people that would get screwed in this situation are affiliates that use AdWords to promote products and gain nothing from that "research" click whatsoever. At this point you have to take sides and determine which bottom you're going to defend :)
The silliest part of all is:
WHY IN THE HECK WOULD YOU CLICK ADS ON YOUR COMPETITORS SITE AND GIVE THEM MONEY!
Not the sharpest tacks on the corkboard for sure.
I click ads on site A (competitor) regularly while seeing what my competitor is up to, and owner of site A clicks ads on my site, because he is competing head-to-head with me and wants to see what I do.
How does one knows if your competitor is clicking ads on your site.
Seriously though, I think people are way too paranoid. And, I had a doctor tell me I was paranoid about stuff like this.... of course he didn't know what an invalid click was....