Accidental clicks cost mobile advertisers tons of money. The key to minimizing the damage is to insist on transparency before bidding on ads.

Earlier this week, we reported on a study that found 22% of clicks mobile advertisements were accidental. Although some ads that are viewed accidentally lead to purchases, the proportion is vanishingly small, leading to wasted ad budgets. Moreover, unintentional clicks cost not only the price of the ad impression, but also the cost of staff, connectivity, and the like. So we asked experts about the best ways for advertisers to avoid accidental clicks.

User interface design can make a huge difference, of course. “Imagine if banner ads took up one-third of your PC [screen] and your mouse pointer was the size of a fist,” John Busby, vice president of the mobile advertising industry group the Marchex Institute, offers by way of analogy. “You'd make a ton of accidental clicks. If you're looking through a list of, say, restaurants, it is very easy to click a link or phone number when you intended to scroll."

But good design is only part of the equation. Advertisers should make sure they won't be charged for clicks the audience didn't intend. “In mobile, the problem just may be using clicks as a pricing model," Busby said. "The best way for marketers to ensure quality is to insist on paying for calls that can actually generate results, so mobile publishers should focus on new ways to measure engagement.”

Advertisers need to manage their ad bids to account for accidental clicks, according to Alex Mizrahi of adMarketplace.com. “The good news is, this can be managed so the publisher, not the advertiser, incurs the cost of these accidental or fraudulent clicks,” he said. “We find that, by publisher, accidental clicks are mixed in with intentional clicks at a relatively stable rate. So if you can discount your bids by publisher to account for the accidental clicks, you can maintain your performance.”

Daryl Colwell, vice president of business development at MediaWhiz, agrees. His firm, an integrated digital media agency, aggressively monitors the source of clicks and the resulting interaction, and insists on a high level of transparency to track that data when placing ads with mobile publishers.

Adding technology that tracks results can be critical. At the very least, advertisers should insist on a list of sites where their ads will be published. “Layering on technology that enables us to track the source of calls, duration and result has made us smarter marketers on the mobile Web,” he said. “It’s allowed us to determine down to a very specific level which source(s) are providing the best results for us/our clients.”