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Disqualified for invalid clicks
Nobody related to the website clicked on ads
tbird




msg:1376437
 7:44 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

How can a website be disqualified for invalid clicks if they aren't clicking on the ads? I suspect this was done by one of my competitors trying to kill my only revenue stream, but I can't get an explanation from google.

 

Blue_Fin




msg:1376438
 8:02 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

I am very sorry this happened to you and your feelings are shared both by other terminated publishers as well as current publishers. This is probably the #1 concern about the AdSense program.

I posed this question to AdSenseAdvisor and several other people commented on it as well, yet we've seen no acknowledgment of it [webmasterworld.com...]

At this point, all we can assume is that Google is avoiding this issue with their publishers based on their silence.

How long were you in the program before your account was disabled? Did you see a spike in your clicks, and if so, how long after that time was your account disabled?

Jenstar




msg:1376439
 8:13 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

tbird, if a site is generating a high number of fraudulent clicks, I can see it would make sense for Google to disable an account rather than taking the time to filter them all. This could happen whether you or a competitor was the one responsible for the clicking.

Perhaps a few advertisers complained, with your site as the referring URL, that the advertisers found to be fraudulent for whatever reason.

It is Google's job to keep the advertisers happy, and they do seem to be cracking down on sites with a higher incidents of fraudulent clicks, TOS violations, etc, and perhaps your site was targeted for whatever reason. And in the case of fraudulent clicks, unfortunately it does not have to be the publisher who is making the clicks, but anyone who happens to visit.

My best advice is to offer to work with Google, ban any offending IPs, and hope for the best.

I posed this question to AdSenseAdvisor and several other people commented on it as well, yet we've seen no acknowledgment of it

ASA also said he/she didn't have a chance to respond to everyone's questions yet. Please remember that ASA is just a volunteer, plus he/she just arrived at WebmasterWorld. And also, due to fraud prevention, ASA could be limited in what information can be released to the public regarding this issue, so it is worthwhile keeping that in mind.

Blue_Fin




msg:1376440
 8:25 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

tbird, if a site is generating a high number of fraudulent clicks, I can see it would make sense for Google to disable an account rather than taking the time to filter them all. This could happen whether you or a competitor was the one responsible for the clicking.

I have to disagree with this (unless it was clearly the accountholder causing it) because if it becomes widely known that it is so easy to get an account disabled, there will be a tremendous amount of vengeful activity going on which will ultimately lead to there being no viability for the small publisher in the AdSense program. It's only a matter of time until this happens unless Google addresses this in a professional manner.

tbird




msg:1376441
 8:25 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

How long were you in the program before your account was disabled? Did you see a spike in your clicks, and if so, how long after that time was your account disabled?

We were in the program for approximately 3 months before the account was disabled. There was a slight increase in clicks, but nothing I would consider to be major. I'm wiling to work with Google to get to the bottom of the problem, and have communicated my willingness to do so--unforunately they decline to address specifics.

onfire




msg:1376442
 10:20 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have to 2nd what Blue_Fin has said regarding

"because if it becomes widely known that it is so easy to get an account disabled, there will be a tremendous amount of vengeful activity going on which will ultimately lead to there being no viability for the small publisher in the AdSense program."

Would like to see ASA come back with some positive feedback on this subject, and try to reassure us that they are aware of this and they are working on how we can be less of target from those that see clicking on a Ad or Ads repeatedly with intent of causing maximum damage in getting our accounts closed, to be less successfully in their campaign, by communicating and working with the publisher affected before deciding to close the account.

tbird




msg:1376443
 10:46 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Would like to see ASA come back with some positive feedback on this subject, and try to reassure us that they are aware of this and they are working on how we can be less of target from those that see clicking on a Ad or Ads repeatedly with intent of causing maximum damage in getting our accounts closed, to be less successfully in their campaign, by communicating and working with the publisher affected before deciding to close the account

Couldn't agree more. I'm more than willing to cooperate and try and rectify the problem in anyway possible. Adsense has been the only legitmate revenue source that I've been able to establish for my content sites.

Kinitz




msg:1376444
 12:39 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

tbird, if a site is generating a high number of fraudulent clicks, I can see it would make sense for Google to disable an account rather than taking the time to filter them all.

I todally don't agree! Algorithms should prevent it. Are you, Jenstar, working for Google?

freeflight2




msg:1376445
 12:53 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

it might "make sense for Google to disable an account rather than taking the time to filter them all" but it also would be an extremely poor practice and would hurt them in the long run - I hope google is smarter than that.

creepychris




msg:1376446
 1:07 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

tbird, if a site is generating a high number of fraudulent clicks, I can see it would make sense for Google to disable an account rather than taking the time to filter them all. This could happen whether you or a competitor was the one responsible for the clicking.

I have to agree with BlueFin's criticism of this quotation. In the short term it makes sense to just disqualify any site with offending clicks because it is too much hassle in comparison to revenue, but in the longterm this is a system killer. As BlueFin mentions, there is a lot of vengeful activity on the web.

Why do societies set up small claims courts. They are a complete waste of money and other resources. Possibly hundreds of dollars are used to settle fifty dollar claims. It's because without them people would know that they could rip people off on a small scale and never have to worry about it. Likewise here. Google should waste the resources to filter fraudulent clicks, not for the benefit of the site in question, but to maintain order in general.

Of coure, having said that, we don't ever really know why people's sites are given the boot. And so the 'offending' sites may or may not be the actual offenders. Do you take the word of someone who posts a complaint on message board without any degree of skepticism?

Personally, I love Adsense and I am at the same time constantly nervous about getting the boot. And as a result, I am extra careful to follow the TOS. Hmm. Maybe public executions do work as other people have mentioned on this forum?

401khelp




msg:1376447
 1:13 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

if it becomes widely known that it is so easy to get an account disabled, there will be a tremendous amount of vengeful activity going on which will ultimately lead to there being no viability for the small publisher in the AdSense program.

Blue_Fin, you are right on in this comment. I for one don't express my thoughts much on this or other board for just this reason. I'm often pushed for time and can't always construct as tactful a post as I should. Because of my concern that someone could become vengeful and start clicking on my sites Adsense ads and cause Google to disable my account, I just don't post.

Although my income is very diversified, I'd hate to see the Adsense income go. This concern goes "hand and glove" with fears already expressed by many about having their account suddenly disabled by Google with no recourse or explanation.

Google really needs to address this issue with:

1. A way to filter fraudulent clicks
2. A progressive communications process that could lead to a disabled account
3. An appeals process.

jomaxx




msg:1376448
 1:19 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

...But the simple fact is that an algorithm CANNOT be written to filter any but the simplest cases of fraudulent clicks. It's impossible. At best it can send up red flags to be investigated manually.

I can't comment on tbird's situation, but fraud has dragged down the value of every PPC program, and if you read the AdWords forum you can see it is already affecting AdSense earnings as well.

I think the risk of competitors clicking on your ads is somewhat overblown, because they are exposing themselves to significant risk without having much to gain, but ultimately if a site continues to generate a lot of suspicious untraceable clicks, what can Google do but terminate them?

europeforvisitors




msg:1376449
 1:35 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the risk of competitors clicking on your ads is somewhat overblown, because they are exposing themselves to significant risk without having much to gain...

A bigger problem could be advertisers clicking on their competitors' ads. Of course, that could happen with AdWords, too, not just with AdSense. (In fact, it might be more likely to occur with AdWords, because it's probably easier for an advertiser to find its competitors' ads on SERPs than on third-party content pages.)

As for why AdSense accounts get terminated, any number of factors could come into play. For example, if a site seemed especially prone to "click vandalism" because of controversial subject matter or a hotheaded audience, Google might figure that it would be easier to close the account than to investigate fraudulent clicks over and over again. (I'm not suggesting that this is desirable, by the way; I don't think it is, but in a business environment, decisions are likely to be driven by dollars-and-cents issues.)

Jenstar




msg:1376450
 1:38 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I am just a publisher, like most of the others in the AdSense forum.

I am simply commenting from a business perspective, and others have agreed when this has been discussed in previous threads.

Just like in any business, you need to weigh the pros and cons. If there are multiple hours of auditing and checks going into a single account that might only generate $100 of revenue for Google in a month, would it be worth it for them to continue putting in the hours each month when the employee's wages are more than the profit? From a business perspective, no it wouldn't.

I don't know if this is what Google does or doesn't do, but *if* they did, I could see it from their point of view.

And what about those AdSense publishers who are putting AdSense on auto-gen keyword spam sites, where the only real way out is either to click an AdSense ad or click back. Everyone has complained about those, because it causes more Adwords advertisers to opt-out of content targeted sites. AdSense could consider those clicks fraudulent too, even if the publisher never clicked on a single one. Are those publisher's all that innocent even though they have can say they have never clicked an ad? (I am NOT saying this is what happened with tbird).

And all in all, if anything is going to be the downfall of AdSense, it will be fraud. It is better for publishers if AdSense does take a proactive stance against fraud, because it will keep Adwords advertisers opting in for content sites, and most importantly, keep the advertisers happy since they are the ones funding the payments that publishers receive. If the fraud problem continues, more will opt-out, leaving publishers with a smaller pool of ads to display, meaning lower earnings for everyone.

Looking back, when you consider how many publishers post in the forum, and how many of those have been suspended, it is a very small percentage. But those who are suspended tend to be vocal, and it gets everyone worried that it could happen to them.

Blue_Fin




msg:1376451
 1:41 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

ultimately if a site continues to generate a lot of suspicious untraceable clicks, what can Google do but terminate them?

I don't think anyone will argue with that, which is completely different than an execution on the first offense, without the ability to address the issue and attempt to resolve it.

Blue_Fin




msg:1376452
 1:51 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

And all in all, if anything is going to be the downfall of AdSense, it will be fraud. It is better for publishers if AdSense does take a proactive stance against fraud, because it will keep Adwords advertisers opting in for content sites, and most importantly, keep the advertisers happy since they are the ones funding the payments that publishers receive. If the fraud problem continues, more will opt-out, leaving publishers with a smaller pool of ads to display, meaning lower earnings for everyone.

Same response as above. I don't think anyone will argue with that, which is completely different than an execution on the first offense, without the ability to address the issue and attempt to resolve it.

Even someone who may only be generating $10/month in revenue deserves a little information and the courtesy of being treated professionally. Administrative costs associated with doing so can certainly be factored into the tremendous amount of income the program generates overall.

jomaxx




msg:1376453
 1:55 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't see a problem in principle with execution on the first offense, but it would depend on the circumstances and I definitely agree Google should do a reasonable investigation before taking such action.

jatar_k




msg:1376454
 2:44 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have a fairly bulletproof tracking system built into my site that tracks, in various places, everything that happens. Fraud is a major concern with us and our accounting system is even better. Based on various behaviours and analysis I ban IP's all the time. I can see everyone who uses my system and what they are doing.I definitely don't have 1 phd let alone the bunch that G has.

So how, with all the tools at their disposal, could G be way off on every ban? I would think that the majority of bans are justified. If I can track everything that happens with my system to legitimately identify fraud why can't G?

AdSenseAdvisor




msg:1376455
 3:16 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I’m going to concentrate on the “dreaded email” issue this evening, as it seems to be the number one concern for most of you. I'm just back from a meeting with the invalid click team, to learn more about their techniques and their processes. Here's what I learned...

The AdSense invalid click team uses a combination of automated systems and human reviews to uncover fraudulent activity. As jomaxx stated, there's no algorithm that can completely filter out all fraudulent activity, so human reviewers pore through the data as well, and review each case from all angles before taking action. I’ve seen these people in action, and the data that they review - they work extremely hard to make sure that fraud is detected on one hand, and that valid clicks are recognized on the other.

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.

Finally, there's always the opportunity to appeal a decision. If you feel that you've been warned or terminated unfairly, you're encouraged to send supporting information to the team, and they'll definitely take another look at your case and take any new information into account when doing so. I can understand the frustration with the limited information that is given to publishers who have been warned or terminated. Unfortunately, this is a necessity - we can't make this sort of information available without helping some people to develop ways to try and fool our systems :(

So, to summarize:

- Accounts are reviewed by automated systems as well as by human specialists
- Warnings are sent before termination, except in clear-cut cases of severe fraudulent activity
- You can appeal any decision by sending your information to the team, and it will be carefully re-reviewed

Hopefully this will help everyone to breathe a little easier :)

ASA.

Jenstar




msg:1376456
 3:19 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thank you for your answers, ASA. I am sure many publishers will breathe easier knowing how the process works, and what they can do if they are ever faced with this issue.

Visi




msg:1376457
 3:30 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Now how are we going to gt to 20,000 posts in this forum without all those "worrying posts" about fraudulent clicks:)

Thanks asa....:)

loanuniverse




msg:1376458
 3:33 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thank you ASA, that is a great post and should help calm the fears of many.

jomaxx




msg:1376459
 3:36 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the calming response. I'm a strong believer Google should get as tough as necessary with fake clicks and sites that deliberately break the TOS, but I've definitely felt that same terrible FUD on a couple of occasions.

[FUD = Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt]

KenB




msg:1376460
 4:14 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

AdSenseAdvisor, thank you for your post it was greatly appreciated.

I do have one suggestion related to this topic. In another forum there was someone trying to promote a method to defraud Google AdSense using some sort of automated method. Obviously this is something that would be of interest to Google. When I went to fill out the contact form in the AdSense control panel there was not a subject option for a fraud report so I had to choose "other". It might be really helpful in routing messages if there were a "fraud report" option for us to choose when we see something like what I saw that needed to be reported.

I'm sure that there are many AdSense users like myself who would be more than happy to rat out those who are trying to defraud the system to help protect its overall integrity.

Again thank you for your post and welcome to WebmasterWorld.

paul12345




msg:1376461
 5:26 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Jatar_k talks about evaluating his logs,...blocking IP's...

I'd like to know more about this. I'm afraid I'm guilty of not monitoring anything besides counting page views. I'd like to be more proactive about protecting my site and avoiding the risk of getting a "fraudlent clicks" letter from Google.

Can anyone outline what I should be doing and looking for?

figment88




msg:1376462
 6:31 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

ASA thanks for the calming post.

I still have some worries, though, having recently received a violation of TOS note. My violation was for having adsense on improper pages not click fraud.

What heightened my anxiety was the automated note just mentioned "some of your pages" without providing URLs. Initially I had no idea what it was talking about until I discovered a down database connection on one part of my site.

If there is so much human review, how come I received such a generic email? I mean I am talking about a site with about 80,000 pages properly running adsense, and I wasn't provided with sample URLs of the small percentage of improper pages.

BTW the problem had now been resolved, but I worry I am on some type of watch list.

tombola




msg:1376463
 10:43 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

AdsenseAdvisor said:

Warnings are sent before termination, except in clear-cut cases of severe fraudulent activity

So, when we see another post here of someone who says that he was kicked out without warning, he's a liar or a fraudster (or both). Right?

I bet we won't see many of those postings anymore ;-)

2oddSox




msg:1376464
 11:38 am on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

ASA, I hope your words go some way to assuring tbird that there might be a way back from his/her problem. tbird - I hope that's the case (good luck).

For my part, although it's encouraging to know that warning shots are normally fired, it's still disconcerting to know that it's normally all or nothing with sites running AdSense. That is to say if you're terminated, all your sites are terminated, not just the one causing problems. I've got AS on a few sites now but am about to launch my pet project in the coming weeks and I'm actually scared to put AS on this site under this account for the simple fact that if any one of my sites is deemed inappropriate for any reason, and I can't sort the problem out to G's satisfaction, they're all gone. Multiple accounts sound extremely seductive at this point, but that in itself could be enough to get the whole collection banned.

All this anxiety is driving me to drink.... :)

2odd...

onfire




msg:1376465
 4:31 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the Update ASA.

Good Post, This is the kind of feedback thats been missing here.

jomaxx




msg:1376466
 5:55 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

paul12345, there's really nothing you can do. The communication occurs between the surfer and Google's servers. There's no way to know who is clicking or how many times.

If and when more advanced reporting tools become available it might be possible to set things up so that you can infer when certain clicks must have taken place, but right now that's just not an option.

This 69 message thread spans 3 pages: 69 ( [1] 2 3 > >
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