There is no doubt that Google AdSense is one of the most efficient monetization solutions for content publishers. Few other services can generate consistent revenue for websites and for many of them AdSense represents a tremendous percentage of their revenue share.
So it is no surprise that website owners take safety extremely seriously and do their best to comply with all the policies. There are cases, however, when certain publishers try to trick AdSense with placements that provoke accidental clicks, making advertisers pay for the visitors who never intended clicking on the ads.
One of the most popular unruly tactics used by publishers is trying to deceive website visitors by placing AdSense blocks near arrows and "next" buttons. This and other unethical implementation of AdSense is not only dangerous for these very publishers who may lose all their earnings and be banned from creating new accounts with AdSense but also harmful for the whole industry, ruining the trust between a publisher and an advertiser, which is crucial for the ecosystem.
So, what can be done in this situation?
Play By the Rules, Don't Get Banned
The rules in place for AdSense should be observed regardless of the traffic source or whether or not it was paid or organic. It is important to remember, however, that when content is advertised, your site receives much more traffic and so will, therefore, be more scrutinized by Google. It is imperative then to ensure you are completely compliant with AdSense's rules.
Four Things to Check
Make sure your content is in compliance with AdSense policies. Remember, Google des not allow placing its ads on pages that contain adult, copyrighted material you do not own and otherwise unlawful content (e.g. promoting racism or religious violence). You can get the full list here.
Avoid placements that can encourage accidental clicks.
Too close to navigation elements, especially the "next" buttons and arrows. Google uses common sense in identifying 'how close is too close' and each website's design is unique, but our experience shows that 200 px is far enough to be safe for most themes and layouts.
Deferred loading for other elements on a page that can cause AdSense ads to move after the page is fully loaded. This way a visitor can unintentionally click on an ad while initially planning to click on something else.
Formatting that makes the ads difficult to distinguish from other content on the site. Besides colors and fonts, this also includes labels and graphic elements that may cause confusing ads and actual content. We also recommend at least 20px margins to visually separate AdSense blocks from page's content.
The full AdSense placement policies are here.
Landing page experience
The quality of the page that receives traffic is crucial.
AdSense blocks should not be placed on pages that deliver little to no value to the visitor, whatever the source of the traffic is. Websites can be banned from AdSense if they do not provide content.
If you advertise your page, then the previous point becomes doubly important. Not only are you trying to monetize a page because it delivers content, you have invited a user with an ad to the page in order to deliver a promise or experience (e.g. an ad promising a discount on the greatest selection of striped socks, see image). If you do not deliver content, it is a wasted click and a burned visitor.
Any visitor who has landed on your page should be able to easily figure our where to head next. For this purpose, the page should have good navigation, which is distinguishable from other content.
You can check if your page is in compliance using this helpful list.
According to AdSense, it is the publisher's responsibility to make sure the traffic sources they use are in compliance.
Make sure your traffic vendor:
++Sends you traffic that is a result of visitor's voluntary click on an ad and that this click is not incentivized in any way.
++Has technology in place to filter out invalid traffic, whatever the origin.
++Has tools to effectively target the right proper audience and optimize the campaign for performance.
You are in danger if:
++You observe abnormally high AdSense ads CTR (over 7 percent) or eCPM
++Visitors behave unnaturally. For example do nothing else but click on ads and leave the site
Whenever you notice a behavior like this, it's high time look for the prime cause.
You may find it helpful to self-report to AdSense, contact the traffic vendor and review your placements in order to find out eventual reasons. You can also benefit from AdSense official forum.
Follow these rules and your partnership with Google AdSense and native advertising networks will be long and fruitful as both these products were made for content and with content in mind.