Based on today's stats, I now have another question:
What defines where
severe fraudulent activity has occured
I'm seeing my CTR for today at about 3 times normal levels. I'm not clicking the ads, so I'm guessing the reporting system is lagging impression counts or someone is trying to get me booted.
What is a publisher supposed to do when they notice suspect activity? I don't think I want to send an email to adsense customer service and bring my site under the microscope if it is not already.
figment, I made a change on my site in October which doubled my ctr overnight where it has been ever since. I can tell you on the first day of that change, I was having multiple litters of kittens and finally decided to write to AS to reassure them...or rather, get some reassurance myself. If nothing else, you have something in black and white if the googleplex SWAT team turn up a few days later. :-)
AdSenseAdvisor has written:
|I can understand the frustration with the limited information that is given to publishers who have been warned or terminated. |
No! The frustration that we publishers have is that at any time our competitors can cause fraudulant clicks and thus eliminate us - despite us not doing anything wrong!
Not frustration about not knowing enough about the "process" of fraudulant clicks detection...
Could you just remove this fear and frustration that we have, by never ever sending such accusations about fraudulant clicks! (and instead filtering out the fraudulant clicks by algorithms)
<<you will be sent a notification, not a termination - this gives you the opportunity to check your server logs for suspicious activity, take appropriate action, and respond to the AdSense team. >>
If a site is getting nailed by outside sources, what are the "appropriate actions"?
Adwords and Overture have spent huge resources trying to prevent click fraud. how is a publisher supposed to be expected to do this?
One specific example of what an appropriate action is would be greatly appreciated.
"If it's decided that fraudulent activity exists, the next step is to send a warning email to the publisher, not a termination letter. Immediate terminations only occur when severe fraudulent activity has occured. In cases where invalid clicks are coming from some outside source, you will be sent a notification, not a termination - this gives you the opportunity to check your server logs for suspicious activity, take appropriate action, and respond to the AdSense team. "
This is not true. I have emails saved in which AdSense support employees agree that the "invalid clicks" originated from outside sources yet my account was terminated without the warning and chance to examine server logs. I believe the AdSense support employee admitted this in error as in subsequent emails there was a steadfast refusal to disclose any information about said clicks.
But in any case the admission is clear. Webmaster World's terms are such that I can't post the email but it very clearly stated that the termination was being effected to 'protect AdWords advertisers' despite admitting that there was no complicity on the part of the publisher.
This is somewhat of a well known case and many members here must have read about it.
But in case AdSenseAdvisor is not aware of it it can be read here: [webmasterworld.com...]
For reasons that I cede are justified Google is not straightforward about their treatment of invalid clicks. The notion that only when complicity exists are accounts immediately disabled is demonstratably false.
The reason this is the average webmaster's greatest concern about AdSense is because of Google's demonstrated remoreslessness in disabling accounts with no complicity in invalid clicks.
When there is no complicity the publisher has no recourse, as a member earlier noted. The only thing one can do is pull the ads off the pages. This is what many webmasters I knwo do. When their AdSense traffic increases they remove the ads from the pages and wait, as that's the only control they have over who clicks on them.
Much of this is not Google's fault and is due to the inherent complexities of tracking fraudulent clicks. But the zeal with which Google pursues this and their willingness to terminate publishers who are not complicit is making thousands of publishers wary.
|One specific example of what an appropriate action is would be greatly appreciated. |
There is no such thing that publisher can prevent fraudulant clicks commited by somebody else. In fact if your website is a bit controversial, even a bit angry reader can destroy you by causing fraudulant clicks. It is a also lie that in this case you would be able to do anything: Google is just terminating your account and in most cases it doesn't matter whether you will sent them 1 email or 1000 emails - your account will stay terminated.
So really the answer of ASA is characterized with a lot of wishful thinking and good intentions but is far from the reality. Sorry, I don't want to be impolite, it's just that the situation looks a bit different, than this what ASA thinks it is.
The dangers are out there in terms of disgruntled persons. Indeed, I have seen poeople publically discussing the attacks on publisher sites. I once showed a query on Google that would lead to these examples but it was removed by a moderaor so I won't link to it again.
Besides that there is a danger I consider more worthy of worry. The agressive algos Google uses to determine what contitutes an invalid click is such that a really sticky site is at great risk.
Publishers with really sticky sites should rotate other networks with the adsense ads to avoid being terminated due to site stickiness.
cdkrg: Did you get paid for some or all of the money owed at the moment of being terminated. Please let us know if any monies where lost?
Google won't disclose any information about the alleged clicks (I just wanted the date and IP to investigate it) and as my stats (both server stats and AdSense stats) showed no irregularity I am unable to determine the crucial date.
So without knowing the date of the alleged incident(s) I do not know what proportion was witheld.
I suspect that it was simply all the money that had not yet been sent. About a grand.
Thing is, witholding the money is the least frustrating thing about it. Not knowing why the account was terminated and realizing that this is not something publishers can control was what worried me the most.
So I'm as in the dark as you are. I did get one check after the termination date but do not know if that was simply being processed and sent when it happened of if it was intentionally paid and they date the "invalid" click(s) in the subsequent month.
It's a damn good question, because the AdSense terms are unclear about how much money they will withold. They reserve the right to withold all of it even if they determine that only one click was fraudulent, but in practise I am certain they are not that extreme. So where the middle ground is, is anyone's guess.
I suspect they treat it on a case by base basis, and if the fraud is extreme enough would simply withold any and all monies pending.
The MONEY is the most important thing, as far as I am concerned. If fraud is found, and Google knows it is from the 'outside', then they should pay you all the money that they collect from their advertisers. I SERIOUSLY doubt, if they withold 10 grand from you, that they return 20 grand to their advertisers. That is real fraud.
It was 'only' one grand. And BTW Google's terms are not 50/50.
<<The agressive algos Google uses to determine what contitutes an invalid click is such that a really sticky site is at great risk. >>
Can you expand? I would imagine many of Googles biggest partners have "sticky" sites.
By that I mean that the problem of catching invalid clicks is inherently difficult and they need to rely on automation.
Tremendously sticky sites, with many repeat visitors who spend a LONG time on the site are at risk because their repeat visitors might flag an algo.
Some of my site users told me they thought the AdSense ads were a feature (thisis a credit to the good matching) and were not ads. If some of them were in the habit of clicking on them they might have raised a flag after a while.
|Publishers with really sticky sites should rotate other networks with the adsense ads to avoid being terminated due to site stickiness. |
This is pure madness! I really love, with passion, topic of my website and I want to concentrate on creation of content, not on worrying about "rotating other networks" or so. Ability to concentrate on content creation was also mentioend by Google founders as main advantage of AdSense. And now you are saying that if my website becomes too good, too popular, than I have to worry? It's pure madness I say.
nice post, AdSenseAdvisor.
i suspect, there must be a google teaching class for technical writing or they do enormous amount of writing. class post, ASA
|Tremendously sticky sites, with many repeat visitors who spend a LONG time on the site are at risk because their repeat visitors might flag an algo. |
I don't think this is true at all, and I have never seen anything to support this. If this was true, you'd see many people who run AdSense on forums being disqualified for this very reason.
Again, when it comes down to it, there has only been a small percentage of advertisers who have said they have been suspended. And since Google does not release information on tbeir fraud prevention techniques, there would be no way of drawing this kind of conclusion that a sticky site should rotate out of AdSense to prevent being accused of fraudulent clicks. If this was the case, there would certainly be many more suspended from AdSense.
There is no doubt in my mind, sticky sites have nothing to worry about.
I can't find the person who quoted:
|Tremendously sticky sites, with many repeat visitors who spend a LONG time on the site are at risk because their repeat visitors might flag an algo |
Maybe they saw the error in what they had posted ;).
But i think they are really off the mark here, I SEO for a VERY STICKY site which gets well over a million impressions a month, never even broke a sweat over the large amount of impressions and click through rates. And I would NOT start rotating ad networks while this is their best return.
my spin on swapping ad networks :
A fool and his money are easily parted
DaveN, see Msg. #43
Thankyou Blue_Fin, I also lost my pen last week, if you can help me find that too. cheers.
|What is a publisher supposed to do when they notice suspect activity? I don't think I want to send an email to adsense customer service and bring my site under the microscope if it is not already. |
That's what I did when my stats were about $1,400 above normal one day, and I'm still here. :-)
you have to do something really stupid to get kicked out of the adsense program IMO, most people know why they got kicked out, but they just want someone to blame other than themselves.
You could test a clickbot on your site maybe once and get away with but try it everyday
|Kinitz wrote: "And now you are saying that if my website becomes too good, too popular, than I have to worry?" |
This is a necessary evil in a way. The automation Google uses to catch invalid clicks is sometimes an algo that can be threatening to success.
Simply put, you strive to optimize the placement etc so that your CTR is high. A high CTR is inevitably something the cheating algo looks for.
That's nothing new.
|Jenstar wrote: "I don't think this is true at all, and I have never seen anything to support this. If this was true, you'd see many people who run AdSense on forums being disqualified for this very reason. " |
Correct, my site is a forum and I've seen a disproportionately large amount of forum publishers become disqualified (based on my limited statistical sampling).
Both of us are likely dealing with data samples too small for a scientific conclusion but my opinion is that certain dynamics of a sticky community can be dangerous for AdSense.
You might have a dedicated member whose surfing habits are such that it appears their clicks are invalid (e.g. if they always click on all ads). Or you might flag an algo simply because having more repeat visitors means having more repeat clicks from the same IPs.
I speculated that part of the cheating algo looks for a pattern of clicks and with dedicated repeat visitors said clicks are more easily flagged.
|DaveN wrote: "But i think they are really off the mark here, I SEO for a VERY STICKY site which gets well over a million impressions a month, never even broke a sweat over the large amount of impressions and click through rates." |
The thing about anecdotal evidence is that it goes both ways. I too know and run several very sticky sites that have not run into trouble.
With the site that did, I was certain that there was no problem either. I had followed the rules and my site's relationship with advertisers has always been very proffessional.
I had no inkling of anything amiss till the termination.
I do not posit my opinion as a scientific conclusion, but I do want to point out that contradicting anecdotal evidence along the lines of "it hasn't happened to me" doesn't lend itself to scientific conclusions either.
|DaveN wrote: "my spin on swapping ad networks : A fool and his money are easily parted " |
I'm not sure if you understood what I meant. I'm talking about minimizing the repeat traffic by rotating ads, not swapping networks altogether.
Were I to be able to run AdSense on my site again I would not do so without ensuring that repeat visits were minimized.
There are many ways to do this, I could make the ads only visible to guests (and not members) and display a traditional banner ad for the members instead. I could rotate the ads so that the sticky visits do not get as much AdSense.
It's just a tactic I would use to avoid the threat of the cheating algo.
To each his own, said grandmother as she kissed the cow. When I heard that some webmasters would pull AdSense off their sites after receiving the warning email I thought them to be fools as well.
They were worried because they had no way to control who clicks on the ads except to remove them and they pulled the ads till they got paid.
At the time I thought them paranoid. But had I known that my account was going to be terminated I would have removed the ads and saved AdSense for a less sticky site.
|Jenstar wrote: "Again, when it comes down to it, there has only been a small percentage of advertisers who have said they have been suspended" |
Could you name that percent or is this one of those 98% of statistics that are made up on the spot?
|Jenstar wrote: "If this was the case, there would certainly be many more suspended from AdSense." |
Many more than how many? If you have data on this I would be interested. I am careful to mention that my take is based on anecdotal evidence and that I do not have a statistically significant amount of data to draw from.
But I think the same is the case for you. You seem very certain ("no doubt in my mind") and as you are basing this on the "small percentage" you allege have been terminated I would like to know what kind of data you are talking about.
If it's anecdotal evidence (as mine is) we'll have to agree to disagree. But if you have statistically significant data on the terminated accounts I would like to hear it. I'm no fan of being wrong and thus welcome to be proved wrong and to divest myself of said "wrongness". ;-)
|DaveN wrote: "you have to do something really stupid to get kicked out of the adsense program IMO, most people know why they got kicked out, but they just want someone to blame other than themselves. |
You could test a clickbot on your site maybe once and get away with but try it everyday"
I'm not sure why you think this. On my site I did not even imagine it would have happened and it did without warning.
As Google admitted I had no complicity in the matter, certainly nothing like a clickbot (I have no experience with clickbots but I suspect that they are easily flagged by Google). My stupidity was to have depended on the AdSense income but barring that I do not see how my account terminantion can be characterized as stupidity on my part.
I'm sure there are many webmasters out there who were terminated for complicity and then try to cry about Google's "unfairness" but I personally have no reason to do so here.
I post under a screen name, and mischaracterizing what has happened to me serves no purpose except to defend the reputation of "cdkrg". I don't use that screen name elsewhere so there's no motivation for me to misstate my case.
Edited to correct missatribution.
[edited by: cdkrg at 6:39 pm (utc) on Dec. 15, 2003]
I will discuss this more in depth later, but you might want to go back and check all the quotes you pulled from posts - you have attributed several comments to me that were actually said by DaveN.
Perhaps you will have better luck with adsonar. Hopefully this will get resolved fairly. Before turning it into a legal fight, maybe you can call google and ask to speak to someone and plead your case.
I suspect your site is a bit too small to be in their radar, but it can't hurt to try.
I appreciate the post and the answers you provided. I agree that all the information cannot be given to a site owner over the offense because of the potential risk of revealing internal systems. Unfortunately I did not receive a warning e-mail of any sort to let me know there was something wrong with my site. I have kept all my e-mails from Google and just reviewed them. My first e-mail said in effect that: My account was in violation of the TOS and has been disabled. No warning, just an abrupt end to the account. Had I received a warning I would have checked server logs and tried to isolate the offender. I have a fair sized site that generates about 1,000,000 impressions a month and was completely dependent on Adsense revenue.
Would love to comply, but unfortunately I've not been given a second chance.
|My account was in violation of the TOS and has been disabled. |
If they said this, it sounds like something other than fraudulent clicks. Their emails do state if it is for fraudulent clicks, not other TOS violations. Could you have violated the TOS in some other way?
|Could you have violated the TOS in some other way? |
Nothing that I could think of. I try and play it straight up and abide by all the rules. Not sure what it was.
I have experienced the same thing. Last week my Google AdSense account was terminated due to "invalid clicks", claiming I received a warning email on November 11th. I never received a warning.
I run a site that gets over 3 million impressions per month, with a forum that has lots of sticky users. If Google flagged my account because of repeat IP clicks, I have no control over that. I am in continual contact with them and will continue to escalate my complaint--I have not been confrontational or angry with them, just persistent.
It just feels like a draconian tactic--to claim all my revenue without warning and not tell me one particular reason why my account was disabled other than "invalid clicks."
Frustrating to say the least...
Just a small point.......
I use yahoo for my email, and their spam guard chucks google letters in the bin. There maybe a similar problem with MSN and other ISP's
Be aware of this... I have missed a couple of letters about updates etc.
Definitely didn't miss an e-mail. I am not using a web-based e-mail account. And my filters, don't miss Google e-mails, of that I am sure.
If I have misquoted you I apologize without condition. Well, I will throw in an excuse, 'twas my first time using the quote function here. ;-)
Edit: I have edited my previous post in an attempt to correct this.
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