With all the talk about ad fraud, you'd think that every false click on an ad was the result of a sinister bot. The reality is that there's often another culprit: fat fingers.
The so-called fat finger problem is another major reason that marketers are paying for false results. A study last year found that 60% of consumers have accidentally clicked on mobile banner ads. Small screen sizes, a finger slipping and, yes, chubby digits are often to blame.
Since the problem gives marketers the false sense that consumers are engaging with their ads, Google stepped up in 2015 to make ads less susceptible to such errant clicks. More recently, Facebook announced it was cracking down on fat-finger clicks. Facebook is not counting ads that users click on and then click away from within two seconds.
While Google and Facebook might have reason to continue to tolerate some of these clicks, marketers should shoot for a 100% success rate. Here are four ways to get there.
1. Make less of the ad's real estate clickable
One major reason for errant clicks is that the user is trying to scroll down and accidentally launches a landing page. An easy fix for this is to limit the size of a clickable area. Google has found that border areas are especially vulnerable to the wrong kind of clicks, so making the clickable area inside the border is a solution.
2. Mark the clickable area
Another reason people accidentally click is because they don't realize that the area they're touching is clickable. This can be addressed by putting a "click here" button over that area so there's no confusion.
3. Limit the clickable time
Another Google solution is to only make ads clickable for a short period of time. However, this might be more of an extreme measure than what is required because there's a good chance that consumers will be distracted while they're on mobile and a designated window of time might not match up with the consumer's exposure to the ad.
4. Make those Xes bigger
One frustrating trick that mobile advertisers pull is to make the "click out" X so small and unresponsive that users have to hit it multiple times to get out. Offer consumers a larger X that actually works so they can get out of an ad they accidentally clicked, and so marketers don't have to pay for it.
Fat-finger clicks may not be as malevolent as outright fraud, but they have the same effect: Third parties in the digital advertising ecosphere have benefited from the false metrics generated by inadvertant clicks and at times have helped design ads to generate such inflated metrics.
In the current year though, when so many major advertisers are demanding more accountability from their ad partners, it's time to take an honest accounting of those fat-finger clicks too and design mobile ads that offer real results.