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it wasn't me!
Hi all, I got this email from Google Adsense saying that they'd detected fraudulant clicks with my account and that they were investigating!, but in complete honesty it wasn't me!
I've only had the ads on my site for a few days now + may have made 2 or 3 test clicks on the first day, but that was it.
Do you think they're trying to get out of paying me?
As a deterrent to fraud, what else?
If Google detects a pattern of fraudulent clicks, booting the offender will send a message that fraudulent clicking isn't tolerated. This will make other publishers think twice before trying to cheat advertisers.
Google could simply ignore clicks that it suspected were fraudulent, but that would send the wrong message: i.e., that there's no risk in stealing from advertisers. To use an analogy, it would be like not prosecuting shoplifters or homeowners who file phony insurance claims. If there's no risk of punishment, there's no incentive for wannabe criminals to behave themselves.
|Denis at eVR|
It isn't that simple though. Google obviously aren't able to (or don't want to) distinguish between fraudulent clicks made by or on behalf of the publisher and those made by an unrelated third party (e.g a saboteur).
My sites are squeaky clean, and I have been careful to avoid making any clickthroughs myself (after the first hour of over-enthusiasm), or being instrumental in anyone else doing so. As far as I am concerned, every one of the couple of thousand of clickthroughs generated to date by my sites have come from genuine site visitors.
But today I got the dreaded "It has come to our attention that fraudulent impressions or clicks have been generated on the ads on your site(s), and we are investigating the situation. " message.
I don't know if the Google Team realise just how scary a message like this can be? I have emailed back to put my side of the story, but more than that I don't see what I can do. They offer me the chance to earn substantial revenue from my sites, and then within a couple of weeks they threaten to take it away from me.
Would anyone care to reassure me that the last line threat of "If we find your account to be in violation again, action may be taken against your account and payment may be withheld." won't be carried out? The wording of this implies that they have already decided that my account is in violation, but my account is NOT in violation.
|This script he has tracks each IP of the clicker - if the same IP clicks more than one time within a 30 day period, that click is ignored. |
I sincerely hope Google does not do this as we have visitors coming to our site on a daily basis and the same people some of whom will be on the same IP and most probably the same conputer. Each day they will see different pages some of which will have different and others the same ads from previous days.
Now if that user decides to click on X, and then B another or the same day and then comes back the next day and clicks on X again because he cannnot remember he already clicked on it then I want to be paid as that is a click.
30 days on the internet is an eternity and Google is serving different ads all the time, so it would only be natural to perhaps forget what you have clicked and what not.
|As a deterrent to fraud, what else? |
If Google detects a pattern of fraudulent clicks, booting the offender...
europeforvisitors, you aren't reading the thread. Read first, think, then post. Booting the offender is not possible because the offender is not in the program.
That is the whole point of this discussion. Only a moron would have issues with the fraudulent clicker being booted. It's not the clicker that is getting booted - it's the publishers who have no way of stopping the nuisance clicks.
I have one site I had the ads on - a motorsports site. Some of the ads were for a motorsports accessories retailer, whom one of the other site sponsors hates. This other fellow told me it makes his blood boil to see this competitors' ads on one of my sites. Could I have stopped this angry former client from clicking on his competitor's ads?
Say I just went to your site and clicked on your ads 50 times. Now if Google boots you, will that be justified?
(God gave us ability to reason - keep that in mind.)
|I have one site I had the ads on - a motorsports site. Some of the ads were for a motorsports accessories retailer, whom one of the other site sponsors hates. This other fellow told me it makes his blood boil to see this competitors' ads on one of my sites. Could I have stopped this angry former client from clicking on his competitor's ads? |
In that kind of situation, Google might simply feel that it isn't worth serving ads on sites that attract fraudulent clicks (even if such clicks are caused by troublemakers, not by the publisher). That's tough on the publisher, but if Google has to choose between one unhappy publisher and a bunch of unhappy advertisers, it'll probably decide the advertisers are more important.
OTOH, even if Google is cancelling the publisher's account, it should pay revenues that have accrued (less the value of the fraudulent clicks) unless it has good reason to believe that the publisher is responsible for the fraud.
If I were in your shoes, I'd explain the situation to Google and (since you have more than one site) offer to remove the AdSense code from the site that's been attracting the angry clicks from the former client.
If Google still said "Sorry--you're gone," I'd demand payment for revenues earned to date (less the income from the questionable clicks), and--if that demand failed--look into the possibility of a suit in Small Claims Court. (Some Small Claims Courts are quite liberal in determining whether a corporation "does business" in a locality.) With luck, things won't go that far, and Google will agree to restore your account if you promise to leave the code off the site that's attracting retaliatory clicks.
You might also want to consider having an attorney put the fear of God into the angry clicker with a "cease and desist" letter before he does even more damage.
>>one guy PM'ed me
Oh my God! I can see it now. A PM group forming a click farm.
"Now, everybody click on europeforvisitors' London hotel site's adwords at once, hehe, and listen to the sirens going off at the 'plex lol"
It now seems to me that it is just about impossible for a publisher to ensure that all clicks are "legitimate".
Apparently, mosley700's sponsor was kind enough to tell him that he was unhappy (to put it mildly). What if he had just gone ahead, and clicked away on the ads?
In that case, mosley700 would not even have been aware that there was "fraudulant activity" going on. He would probably not be able to guess which site was causing "problems". And there would be no way for him to know that he could/should remove the code from that site, to stay on the safe, eh, side.
(Unless we want to reason as follows: if a site starts to do well, we'd better remove the AdSense code from it...)
Having said that, I still agree with EFV's statement that the best thing we can do is create good-looking, professional, useful, easily navigable sites that are bursting with good, original content. (OK, I paraphrased.)
It may not be decisive proof, but IMHO it is certainly a strong indication that we are serious people, willing to work to earn a dollar or two; and not fraudsters, out to make a quick killing!
Denis at eVR, you asked:
|Would anyone care to reassure me that the last line threat of "If we find your account to be in violation again, action may be taken against your account and payment may be withheld." won't be carried out? |
Sorry. I can reassure you that it has been carried out.
You say your sites are 'squeaky clean'. I really hope for you and all others running AdSense that mine was not and that it got kicked out because of that.
Lets hope that google sees the difference. If there is one in the first place. I am not saying you are not clean. I just don't know what's clean, and what is not, since google never told me what the reason for the termination was.
To all, great info. I am clean and still got kicked out. I never, not once click on an ad from my site. I never did anything wrong that I know of, I asked Google what the problem was, and never heard back, just got dropped. I still don't know why! I think dropping sites that are just in it for the money is a great thing, makes good sense. I put the ads on my site to offer my visitors other links, and the extra money was nice. The bigest beef I have with Google is not answering my email. That digs me big time! I can supply every IP address that hit my site and where they come from. I think Google has some bugs in the system, or some reviews with there head in the clouds.
Competitors attacking one another is clearly a weakness of the system. And what about attacks on the program itself by rival Ad networks? Framing a few high-profile publishers would help to discredit the entire AdSense program.
This is starting to look too much like a combat zone for my liking.
In canada several of the major cable providers have hundreds of thousands of users that come across on the same IP. Each time someone from AOL requests a page their IP randomly changes. Detecting fraud is very very easy if its a huge site (simple statistical analysis would detect it), but if its a small site its very hard.
What worries me the most is that google can simply withhold potentially 1000s of $$$ from adsense publishers without any more then a short email. And, nobody will hold it accountable for keeping tha advertizers money. Google has little to loose by weeding out 100s or even 1000s of small advertisers that don't make much money individually, but it can easily maky 100s of $ in the short term.
Now we all trust Google, but I find it a bit worryign that it keeps al the cards and doesn't give us ANY rights whatsoever. I bet hte TOS let's google do jsut that quite legally. I'm almost certain Google will make no legal guarantee that we get our own worth.
What really worries me is the temptation for Google to not rerally give a damn about small publishers whose livelyhood may depend on what's basically small fry for Google.
Don't get me wrong, I'm jsut pointing out that this is a special situation where google has enormous power over other people's finances without ANY accountability or legal, contractual binding.
>>Now we all trust Google
Speak for yourself. IMO, they are little better than common scam artists.
Personally I wouldn't go as far as Mosley, but business is business. They are cleverly hiding the percent payout. Get the word spread out, pay a fair bit of money, as the program gets more advertisers and more webmasters, the payout will go down just like Amazon. But how far down is the question?
|They are cleverly hiding the percent payout. Get the word spread out, pay a fair bit of money, as the program gets more advertisers and more webmasters, the payout will go down just like Amazon. |
This has been discussed in other threads, so I'll just make three brief comments on the topic of payout percentages:
1) The split probably isn't as simply as a straight 50-50 or 65-35--or, if it is, Google will probably change the formula to a sliding scale that could take any number of factors into account.
2) Google would be stupid to reveal its payout formula, because that would invite cherry-picking by the competition.
3) Comparing Amazon's associate program and Google's AdSense program is like comparing apples and oranges. Amazon is an e-commerce merchant that makes money from selling products on its site; AdSense is an advertising network that makes money by selling ad space on publishers' sites. If a Web publisher removes his Amazon code, Amazon loses very little (and possibly nothing). If a Web publisher removes his AdSense code, Google immediately loses whatever revenues it was earning from the publisher's site.
Well as it has been said, Google seems to have all of the cards. As I posted I got dumped, and I finaly got a reply from Google, all it said was your dumped, and that we can't tell you why. Power play? or just a way to hold money.
I am not sure how Google was going to pay anyway. I never gave a tax ID number, which I think is required for any payment over $600. They can't tell me what I did wrong, so that I could prove other wise?
Ask yourself this,, would Google do business with you if you were like this. I think Not, hell they will not let you slide adwords unless you have a card on file. Why should we trust them,, they don't trust us!
|If a Web publisher removes his Amazon code, Amazon loses very little (and possibly nothing). |
They lose the new flow of customers. You might see Google needs the ad space but as Brett said elsewhere, the ad space is unlimited. The biggest thing Google get in the early stages is awareness from the paying customers that google offers adwords...then they reduce the payout get less inventory which is unlimited anyways, but keep the adwords advertisers.
It does seem kind of fishy that Google Adsense hasn'y bothered to collect Social Security Numbers or Tax ID numbers. Wouldn't Google be breaking the law if they sent out payments to people who made over $600 without this information? I think they said they would pay net 30, but yet they never even collected the required TAX info.
Seems like if this was legitimate, they would have collected that info. Now I wonder...was that email I got inviting me to join AdSense Spam or Scam?
Any other thoughts on the subject?
Welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com], Commission King!
From the Google AdSense FAQ:
|5. Does Google need my tax I.D.? |
Yes. If you are approved to participate in Google AdSense, we are required to collect your tax I.D. because we pay you. The ability to collect your tax I.D. is coming soon. When we launch this feature, you'll be prompted to submit your tax I.D. when you log in to your account.
I am guessing it will be launched before the next batch of checks is cut.
I wonder if anyone has actually received a check from Adsense (especially one for over $600).
Not sure what is so darn complicated about collecting tax info when you first sign-up for Adsense. Affiliate networks seem to have figured out how to add that field to their sign-up forms.
Does not collecting tax info you'll need in 30 days make Sense?
|I wonder if anyone has actually received a check from Adsense (especially one for over $600). |
This thread [webmasterworld.com] has info from people who are showing payments in their AdSense accounts.
And in this thread [webmasterworld.com], Google says "checks went out on 7/21/03 for the month of June."
You will probably see updates within the next couple of days from people who have received their first Google checks.
|You might see Google needs the ad space but as Brett said elsewhere, the ad space is unlimited. |
Ad space may be unlimited, but the number of targeted pages for many keywords (and the number of readers who see those pages) is finite. The number of AdSense spots available on those pages is even more limited.
(I won't repeat my entire argument here; it's in the "NY Post displaying Google ads" thread.)
And, an awful lot of bad vibrations flowing around.
Google not sending checks? AdSense would be gone within 2 month - the simple act of asking that question shows the limited thinking scope of the one who asks.
Whining about being dropped as a publisher? My (very personal) guess: Those whiners are most certainly the same people who whine about being penalized for their useless websites.
Advertisers whining about "test clicks" from publishers? You guys should thank the lord every day that the internet is enabling you to pay per click and you don't have to pay for eye balls (impressions) - if you don't like it go and by a 30 second TV spot (do some research just how those viewers numbers are compiled - plain bull****).
On a different note: Being an AdWords advertiser and an AdSense publisher myself, today I excluded myself from showing my AdWords ads on my own website (even though my ads showed up only on very targeted content pages - but, paying for advertisement that is displayed on my own website does not make sense to me).
Overall advise: Stop whining, work hard, put a little trust up front and if AdSense/AdWords does not work for you - drop it.
>> Whining about being dropped as a publisher? My (very personal) guess: Those whiners are most certainly the same people who whine about being penalized for their useless websites.
The issue is not the quality of sites. The argument has long been around that the only good long term strategy is to build quality content. The issue here is Google's bumping publishers (presumably both of good and bad content) on the pretext of "Fraudulent Clicks", refusing to provide any proof of fraud, witholding publishers genuine earnings, and refusing to entertain any discussion of the reasons they've come to the "fraudulent click" conclusion. That is unacceptable in any business context. If someone owes you money then they either pay or come up with a sound "legal" reason for not doing so.
They are not whining. They have legitimate and legal concerns.
>> Overall advise: Stop whining, work hard, put a little trust up front and if AdSense/AdWords does not work for you - drop it
Are you suggesting that webmasters are generally a bunch of lay-abouts? What are you suggesting they invested when putting up the Adsense code if it wasn't trust? The publisher dropping Adsense is not the issue. It's Adsense dropping publishers unfairly that is.
|If someone owes you money then they either pay or come up with a sound "legal" reason for not doing so. |
Google's sound legal agreeement for not paying is right in their Google AdSense Standard Terms and Conditions that all publishers must agree to when signing up for AdSense. "Google reserves the right to withhold payment or charge back". And a little later, "Any decision made by Google under this Agreement shall be final."
If you are up to the challenge, it is quite an interesting read. https://www.google.com/adsense/terms It would be naive to think that this wouldn't be airtight.
|on the pretext of "Fraudulent Clicks"... |
I don't believe Google is specifying fraudulent clicks in their emails, but rather fraudulent activity. There is a lot more than just fake clicks that could be considered fraudulent. Doing anything on their "Prohibited Uses" list could be considered fraud, and could get a publisher that dreaded email from Google. It does seem that they give some warnings first in certain scenarios, so the problems can be rectified (such as the member who was accidentily double-serving ads).
But an additional part of the scenario is Google does not want to reveal too much about the ways they catch fraudulent activities, but this does leave innocent publishers out of the loop when they get a fraudulent activity email, without any way of knowing why or even how to prove their innocence.
Airtight? As long as they are doing it in good faith. But if they cancel people in mass w/ flimsy reasons I think some air might seep in.
|Denis at eVR|
You are wrong, Google is quite specific. The subject line of the email I received is "[#........]Fraudulent Clicks", and the first line reads:
It has come to our attention that fraudulent impressions or clicks have been generated on the ads on your site(s), and we are investigating the situation.
You are right Denis, I went back and checked. Someone had said it was fraudulent activity, not just fraudulent clicks, and that is why I had it in my mind.
|Airtight? As long as they are doing it in good faith. But if they cancel people in mass w/ flimsy reasons I think some air might seep in. |
Is there any evidence that they've been cancelling publishers en masse?
|It has come to our attention that fraudulent impressions or clicks have been generated on the ads on your site(s)... |
What about the "fraudulent impressions" in the email? What's that all about?
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