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Google AdSense Forum

This 102 message thread spans 4 pages: 102 ( [1] 2 3 4 > >     
$200k of fraud activity, but account still in good order!?
Have google gone crazy?
MyGen




msg:3163922
 5:14 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've been a google premium publisher for over a year now, and have had an income ranging from between $50k to $100k per month.
Last week I logged into my account to see the 'Your payments are currently on hold' message, and the required action was to e-mail google, which I did.
Just received my e-mail back saying that after an investigation, it was found that there has been over $200k worth of invalid click activity on my account, and it will be deducted from my next payment (Which will be nowhere near that amount, one is to assume it'll be taken over the next few months, leaving me with nothing?) However, they then go on to tell me that my account is in good standing and they look forward to my continued participation in the program.

Surely if your company had been defrauded the sum of $200k, you wouldn't want to co-operate with them anymore? What makes matter more interesting is, over the last 5 months Google have paid out $386k to me, which means over 50% of all my clicks have been invalid. Assuming this has been going on for months and months, why was I never told this during any of the recent and frequent conversations I have with my member of the google optimization staff, especially when the converstaions were about increasing my revenue and optimizing my site?

I hope for certain that this is a decimal point error, but if they intend to deduct over $200,000 from my account over the next few months, I'll be left with little choice but to pull the google ads and replace them with adverts that will actually generate me some income.

Anyone have any thoughts on this matter?

 

danimal




msg:3163938
 5:24 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

it sounds like you need to look at your traffic patterns to figure out where this fraudulent activity is coming from.

or better yet, i wonder why google isn't giving you any details? was it competitive click fraud?

frox




msg:3163962
 5:48 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am afraid there is no decimal point error there... that would be too idiot of G!

You have a chance most of us don't have: talk to your Google rep, and try to understand what happens. (although you will probably have done so, and I have heard that Google reps usually say that they have no word in click-fraud prevention activities..)

I agree the situation looks silly. Let's assume you REALLY are a fraudster. Then, what they are saying is "you are a fraudster, but we will keep working with you". Do they assume you have repented?

If, on the other hand the clicks are just "invalid" for some technical reason, then they are saying: "half of your clicks are not valid, but we will keep working with you without saying which are the invalid ones". Obviously, you will keep generating them, as you don't know what is the problem,

All this sais, I wish I had that kind of problems, if that came with that kind of revenues :-)

Andreals




msg:3163975
 5:58 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have a possibly similar situation. I don't think I should be held responsible for others who may have used my site to deplete their competitor's ad budget. Neither am I entitled to commissions for those clicks.

Contrary to some of the horror stories that I've read on this forum Google is acting responsibly and treating me with respect. While I'm disappointed that my earnings may not be as high as I once thought I am very happy that Google is acting to preserve the integrity of its business, in which I participate as a publisher.

[edited by: Andreals at 6:00 pm (utc) on Nov. 21, 2006]

jomaxx




msg:3163982
 6:01 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ditto, you need to talk to your rep and get as many answers as possible.

If they didn't inform you of any TOS violations then one presumes that's not the reason for deeming the clicks invalid. It's hard to believe half of your income for an extended period of time could come from actual fraudulent clicking. I have a couple of very speculative guesses, but I'd rather not add to the general FUD in this forum until you hear something more specific.

sonny




msg:3163991
 6:08 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'd chew my foot off to have your problem!
Good luck with it.
The site in your profile must be the biggy. Those myspace sites are $$$$$

ronburk




msg:3163995
 6:12 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Surely if your company had been defrauded the sum of $200k, you wouldn't want to co-operate with them anymore?

Surely if your company was insane enough to sole-source your advertising revenue, you wouldn't do so without lots of automated checks in place to detect click fraud early, would you? Especially after you signed a contract agreeing that 100% of the income from that sole supplier was at risk -- at their discretion? And once you got defrauded, you surely wouldn't be naive enough to just replace those ads with other PPC ads that could be defrauded in precisely the same manner by precisely the same bad guys?

The Google PR campaign of "let us handle all your advertising hassles" sure does delude people into suspending common sense business practices when it comes to AdSense.

why was I never told this during any of the recent and frequent conversations I have with my member of the google optimization staff

Can't think of any plausible explanations? How about this: Google has enough employees that the optimization team is not the same as the fraud detection team. If the fraud detection team manually detected a botnet that's been perpretrating fraud for the past several months, then maybe they would be inclined to go back over their records and give back the fraudulently stolen cash to the people it was actually stolen from: the advertisers.

Being a high-income AdSense publisher is like running a pawn shop. You have to realize that you're highly likely to be in receipt of stolen goods sooner or later, and take steps to detect and prevent that if you want to stay in business

europeforvisitors




msg:3164010
 6:24 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

First of all, they aren't accusing you of fraud; they're just saying a lot of the clicks were invalid. So it isn't necessarily strange that they're docking you for the bad clicks while allowing you to keep the account (especially since they want to get that $200K back!).

Second, if you really are in hock to them for $200K's worth of invalid clicks, pulling the AdSense ads from your pages isn't likely to get you off the hook. Google may be willing to refund its share of the questionable revenue to advertisers, but I doubt if they'll be eager to eat the substantial amount that you owe.

BigDave




msg:3164014
 6:27 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Surely if your company had been defrauded the sum of $200k, you wouldn't want to co-operate with them anymore?

It could be that they value your business, and they don't consider YOU to be the one that defrauded them. They found someone using your site to cause them problems. They probably considered just dropping you, but they didn't.

I'll be left with little choice but to pull the google ads and replace them with adverts that will actually generate me some income.

Try contacting them to see if you can work out a deal that will leave you sufficient operating income. Don't threaten them with pulling adsense, just state your case that you cannot afford to have them deduct all the income for several months.

martinibuster




msg:3164028
 6:41 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Pulling the AdSense makes no sense. You received money you weren't entitled to, for whatever reason. Probably a good idea to go through your logs searching for unusual activity, as well as get a confirmation/reassurance from Google that whatever caused the invalid clicks is not likely to occur.

wyweb




msg:3164034
 6:48 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you pull adsense off your site now how does google recoup the 200K? The don't, which I would imagine would effectively end your association with them once and for all.

Personally speaking, if I'd been knocking back "between $50k to $100k per month" I believe I'd be able to weather 3 or 4 months of hard times. Your problems are my dreams brother...

Andreals




msg:3164049
 6:59 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>If you pull adsense off your site now how does google recoup the 200K?

They sue. 200K is not a small claims action, they'll sue you in superior court. On the other hand Google may not want to trot out their evidence in open court and reveal trade secrets. They will lean hard on you to settle before actually going to court. But I bet they will in the end, they have lots of lawyers on staff.

I would avoid this by leaving the ads in place and thereby not stealing from Google.

unreviewed




msg:3164074
 7:10 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Andreals, following your logic, should we all now set aside 50% of our earnings as “insurance” against being sued for any invalid clicks Google may claim in the future?

jomaxx




msg:3164085
 7:17 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

unreviewed: Your better idea being what?

I agree with previous suggestions that pulling the ads would result in a Pyrrhic victory. Or even a disastrous loss if Google sues, which they have done on at least one previous occasion.

unreviewed




msg:3164093
 7:27 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Jomaxx: The point being, if you make real money with Adsense, this type of claw back regardless of how rare it may be, exists. In other words, when can we be sure of what is in our pocket?

Andreals




msg:3164109
 7:43 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>> should we all now set aside 50% of our earnings as “insurance” against being sued for any invalid clicks Google may claim in the future?

Tax-free munis would be good. :) Better yet buy GOOG it will see 1000.

rbacal




msg:3164117
 7:50 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Premium publishers have less flexibility since they have to abide by the agreement they signed individually which can include a time commitment to showing ads in particular ways.

So, pulling ads may be a clear breech of contract action

FourDegreez




msg:3164138
 8:01 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Surely if your company was insane enough to sole-source your advertising revenue, you wouldn't do so without lots of automated checks in place to detect click fraud early, would you?

ronburk, this isn't the first time you've made such comments. Maybe it would be helpful if you actually explained what you're hinting at as far as publishers detecting fraud pro-actively. From where I stand, publishers are at a profound disadvantage in doing so due to the lack of click data. We're forced to trust, to a large degree, the PhD's at Google to root out fraud.

MyGen, my condolences. You run an awsome site. I don't think the take-back of earnings is right. I can't believe more than half your earnings would be fraudulent, and Google only finds this out now.

BigDave




msg:3164140
 8:03 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

unreviewed,

You could buy insurance or a bond. An even better idea is to live beneath your means and put money aside for the variety of situations that can suddenly come up.

How is this any different than if Google Search drops you for 3 months? Or what if you actually got banned from adsense? It takes a while to get other forms of advertising up and running.

Any time you are involved in a business that has such a potentially flaky income stream, the six-month rule applies. You want to have enough liquid assets to live off for six months of hard times.

If Google is unwilling to work out a payment plan (which would surprise me), then I would probably drop the percentage of spots where AdSense ads are run, adding other sources of revenue. Basically create a payment plan by reducing my percentage of AdSense income, which would be a good idea anyway even if they don't pay as well as AdSense.

Andreals




msg:3164145
 8:08 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>Maybe it would be helpful if you actually explained what you're hinting at as far as publishers detecting fraud pro-actively.

I have contacted Google when I have detected suspicious activity, it could be a consistently high CTR for a channel or that page being repeatedly hammered by a single IP.

But beyond that FourDegreez is absolutely right, fraud detection is largely Google's responsibility since they have the data and the expertise.

Jane_Doe




msg:3164149
 8:11 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'll be left with little choice but to pull the google ads and replace them with adverts that will actually generate me some income.

Can you really find anything that pays more than Adsense (even after subtracting the click fraud amounts) with your demographics?

G_Smitty




msg:3164153
 8:18 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Another thread of a publisher publicly calling Google out in public. To me this is something I would keep between Google and myself. Talking about it on a public forum serves no purpose. Your obviously a premier publisher earning major revenue so why call upon the advice from primarily small publishers posting on this forum?

By bringing this to the attention of the general public I would guess that you will probably not be a premier publisher for long wether by your choice or Google. If you wanted to continue your relationship with Google I doubt you would have made threats of withdrawing from Adsense in a public forum.

unreviewed




msg:3164155
 8:18 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>How is this any different than if Google Search drops you for 3 months?

Been there, done that, and am currently wearing the t-shirt.

This brings back the argument for the PPC industry to be more forthcoming with average click fraud stats.

… or at least change the wording in Payment History from Payment to “You May Have Made”. ;)

Pengi




msg:3164208
 9:09 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

As well as being quite frightening, I find this intriguing. Has G really given no explanation of the nature of the fraudulent clicks?
If not, how can you be sure it has stopped?
Surely for $200k someone is talking to you about this - preferable face to face.

paul2yall




msg:3164249
 9:53 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I would suggest trying to work out a payment plan with Google that doesn't leave you with $0 of earnings for the next few months, like asking them to only withhold 50% of your monthly earnings until the "invalid clicks" amount is paid back. You're a big enough publisher for it to be in their best interest to help you stay in business... especially since they don't seem to be accusing you of the fraud.

fischermx




msg:3164250
 10:04 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't know where are the regular google fanatics today, but did you guys ever take a look at the site?
I did it. Did you see where the ads are?
If "accidental" clicks are invalid, here you have the response.
Not accusing, just pointing what I saw.

Visi




msg:3164264
 10:26 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Although I doubt some of this story a few comments about this so called clawback. Google audits each month before payment. Payment made means I have paseed their fraud procedures. They pay me...see me in court to reclaim that money. Agree with the op...take adsense off the site, cut my loses and move on.

Might also suggest filing a suit against google to show fraud is in current month, or pay up.

They do not have an unlimited timeframe to recoup money. I think it is 30 days...prove me wrong.

Andreals




msg:3164315
 11:00 pm on Nov 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>> They do not have an unlimited timeframe to recoup money. I think it is 30 days...prove me wrong.

IANAL... Their TOS puts many limitations on the publisher but none on themselves. They do reserve the right to be sole judge of what monies are owed. Since possesion is nine-tenths the law the limitation is by statute, they would have to require payment as a condition of continued service--or sue.

They would be reluctant to sue because to do so would require that they reveal trade secrets. If it were a very large amount they may sue anyway or press for arbitration.

paul2yall




msg:3164449
 1:51 am on Nov 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google audits each month before payment. Payment made means I have paseed their fraud procedures.

I think you're making some broad assumptions there. I don't see that expressly stated or even implied in anything Google has published regarding the Adsense program. I think these kinds of assumptions are what often get people into trouble.

It's a bit like saying "The IRS sent me my tax refund, so that means they've audited my return and I have passed their fraud procedures. Just let them try to come after me two years from now."

RonS




msg:3164451
 1:55 am on Nov 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

On the surface and without re-reading the Publisher/Google agreement, I'm not sure that the publisher would be liable for the $200K if they pulled their ads off their site. IF the scenario is as described, with competitors attempting to drain the ad budgets of their competitors, then the onus to detect and stop the fraud is with Google.

While continued participation with Google as a publisher might require you to pay them whatever they want, if you chose to move to another ad network, I don't see how you could be charged with fraud, unless the agreement specifically states that all fraudulent clicks, in G's own opinion, are subject to a clawing back.

But I'm not a lawyer, and didn't feel like going to reread the agreement, so take that for what it's worth, which is nothing.

Why did I even bother posting?

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