Invalid traffic on your videos

Invalid traffic is any activity on your channel that doesn’t come from a real user or a user with genuine interest. It can include fraudulent, artificial, or even unintentional ways to boost ad revenue for videos, among others.

Examples of invalid traffic on videos include:

  • Automated or incentivized traffic from third parties, including “traffic boosting” services and others claiming to be legitimate ad networks, among others.
  • Friends or contacts letting playlists of your videos run all day long, resulting in a boost in ad traffic due to ads playing on those videos.
  • Announcing to your viewers that they should watch or click through ads on certain videos to boost ad traffic, resulting in boosted ad revenue.

Our systems analyze traffic to your videos to determine whether it’s valid or invalid, regardless of where or how the traffic originated. It’s important that we quickly address invalid traffic to keep the platform working for creators, advertisers, and viewers. By continuing to protect our advertising systems against invalid traffic, advertisers can continue to be confident investing in the platform, which helps creators monetize the great content they produce. 

Sometimes, creators may find that their channels are affected by invalid traffic, even if they’re not intentionally driving it. This means that there are times when creators may not be aware that activity they’ve received is the result of invalid traffic.

While we work hard to try to prevent it, some types of invalid traffic can only be detected by our systems after it happens. As a result, adjustments are made to views and earnings in YouTube Analytics and AdSense for YouTube. When you see these adjustments, it means that our invalid traffic defenses are working to protect the platform, even if you didn't necessarily generate or drive that traffic.

For more info on invalid traffic, check out the YouTube Community Help Forum.

How invalid traffic impacts your earnings

If invalid traffic occurs on your channel, you might see:

  • Drops in views and earnings. You may see adjustments in YouTube Analytics to remove views, and therefore earnings, associated with invalid traffic.  
  • Fewer ads on your channel. We may temporarily limit ad serving until our systems determine the risk of invalid traffic is reduced, which may impact revenue even while views remain consistent.
  • Adjustments in your AdSense for YouTube account. If we detect associated earnings from invalid traffic after your payment has been calculated or paid, the amount is offset from your current or future AdSense for YouTube balance.
  • Delays in payment. Payments may be delayed up to 90 days to allow sufficient time to investigate traffic and associated earnings on your channel. Earnings may be withheld, adjusted, or offset if they are determined to be invalid.

Learn more about how invalid traffic can affect your estimated earnings in YouTube Analytics.

When invalid traffic is detected, advertisers aren’t charged, or are refunded where appropriate and possible. 

Your AdSense for YouTube earnings will be debited before disbursement to remove earnings from invalid traffic. Any debits for invalid traffic will appear as a separate line item on the Payments page in AdSense for YouTube. 

In cases where significant activity on a channel is found to be invalid, the associated AdSense for YouTube account may be suspended or permanently disabled. Creators will have the option to appeal when their AdSense for YouTube account is disabled. Violations may also result in monetization being disabled on any of your accounts in accordance with our YouTube channel monetization policies. If you feel this is a mistake, you can appeal. If the violation is overturned, you can apply for monetization once you're eligible in YouTube Studio.

Tips to prevent invalid traffic

If invalid traffic occurs on your channel, check these tips for common ways to help you prevent it: 

  1. Avoid partnering with untrusted parties for video creation and building your channel. For example, it’s best to avoid services that claim to increase your views, likes, or subscriptions. Even when third parties say they drive real traffic to your channel, it may be artificial, resulting in invalid traffic. 
  2. Don’t click ads on your videos, even if you think it might be OK to do so. Our systems recognize when creators click the ads on their own videos. If this behavior happens consistently over time, your account may be disabled to protect both advertisers and the creator ecosystem.
  3. Never encourage anyone to click your ads to help you earn more, even if it's for a good or charitable cause.
Learn more tips on preventing invalid traffic in our Help Center.

Resources

Note: Yellow icons are assigned to videos according to our advertiser-friendly content guidelines. They are not assigned based on this policy on invalid traffic.

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