"And I was just wondering, if google cancels an account can we open a new account with the same name? or are we "banned"?"
You are banned, the punishment is not just confiscation of the revenue from that one account but your site and personal information (I was told by Google about the personal info, but have never checked to verify) is blacklisted and Google won't serve AdSense ads even from another account, for example Opera's AdSense ads just show a blank space if you visit my site that got banned for "fradulent clicks" that Google acknowledged were not my doing, which leads me to my next point:
"Google: As our system is proprietry we cannot tell you how we found the invalid activity nor what it was. Please ensure this does not happen in the future."
How? Seriously how the heck is a webmaster supposed to do that? Pray really fervently? Hope Google's feeling less draconian this week?
In my case, I asked them to please tell me anything about the "fraudulent clicks" because even if they decided to shaft me I want to know if there is a danger I should be aware of in the future with other monetization options.
I did not see any odd traffic at all and didn't even believe the email I got till the ads started showing up blank, so how the heck are webmasters to ensure that it doesn't happen?
For them to have the gall to tell you that is cruel. I can understand not wanting to divulge information that can help reverse engineer the anti-fraud mechanisms they have imposed but the consequence of this understandable policy is that the webmaster has no means to prevent any of this.
The crux of the problem is the policy of the big arbitrary and trigger-happy stick.
The policy is the following:
They won't tell you what "invalid clicks" are taking place but put the onus on you to make sure it doesn't happen under threat of confiscating your revenue and permanently banning you from AdSense.
It's cruel, webmasters in AdSense are not big companies who can easily absorb being shafted.
Why not discount the clicks more agressively? Build in invalid click protection into the rev share? Hell anything but the shafting would be an improvement and they could still protect themselves and their advertisers.
Why not try measures that are less cruel to the small guys? I really wonder if there is a good reason, because generating ill-will this way isn't smart. Especially ill-will with publishing reach.
I've never seen a more effective way to get people to be a fan of Yahoo, or even Microsoft!
It's not as easy as finding a different advertiser and spending a few minutes switching tags.
For me, it resulted in MONTHS of no revenue, even with immediate measures taken to get new eggs.
1) Google confiscated thousands of dollars of legitimate revenue, depending on when the axe falls this can pretty much be 2 months of site revenue.
Month count: 2 months
2) Signing up for other networks can take time, it's not always instant. Unless the webmaster already knows who is who they'll have to learn and it may well take actually running ads before you know you have a dud.
Let's be generous and pretend this is instantaneous and keep the month count at 2 months.
3) Some networks (like Burst) pay NET90. Revenue you start generating will not get to you for 90 days after the campaigns end. This means it can take 4 months or more to start getting revenue.
Month count: 6 months
4) Some networks add an additional delay to the mailing of the check, so in addition to the payment terms they mail out in the middle of the month.
Let's pretend this doesn't happen and keep the month count at 6.
Now truth to tell, that is a worst case scenario (or close, as I cut out a lot of improbable bad things) and you are more likely to cut that number.
For example, you are most likely to lose a month and a half through Google's confiscation based on statistics. I have read many webmasters say about a month because the third party payment service might have the wheels in motion to pay you for the prior month already.
And maybe you'll get a nice NET30 like with Fastclick.
So, maybe you will *only* be down for 2 months. This is a reasonable and conservative estimate off the loss Google can inflict on an "all in one basketer".
I survived by biting the bullet and accepting donations, and didn't go under and have my loyal (and now pissed off at Google) visitors to thank.
But don't say it's a matter of minutes, because that's insulting to those who actually know just how wrong you are from finding out the hard way.