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Is Google acting legally when they ban accounts?
proninja




msg:4450369
 3:38 pm on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have an adsense account and have done for many years. I have never been banned or had many issues. That said, I have never made much money out of it either.

I now have a site that is doing pretty well (totally legit original site with completely original content) and I am at least able to cover all my server costs and a little bit more, thanks to adsense.

However, I have read so many horror stories about google just banning people and taking all their accumulated funds. They don't ever give you a reason, there is no real way to discuss the matter with them and the appeal process is clearly a joke. I have also seen that whenever they have been properly legally challenged (as in someone taking them to court), they have lost or reversed their judgement prior to the hearing.

I have just contacted google today as I noticed what I believe to be invalid click activity on my account (CTR has gone up to about 24%). I have notified them but, having checked the server logs, can't really help them much more. I am well aware that despite me not being at fault in the slightest, google could simply close my account and I would lose about $80. I would also be banned for life.

I am genuinely interested whether they are acting legally, particularly by withholding earnings, when they close accounts. It just seems that publishers, such as myself, are so vulnerable to some idiot just clicking adverts "for a laugh". We have no real way of appealing the decision or speaking to anyone - and then they take away OUR MONEY that we have earned though valid clicks in the weeks / months beforehand.

 

hawaiisurfer




msg:4453809
 4:01 pm on May 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

My account just got disabled. I've made over 6 figures in the last year and have been extremely vigilant in making sure everything is compliant.

I have a few contacts within google adsense that are trying to get me an update on my status. My eCPM has been dropping but there is nothing at all to indicate anything supspcioius at all. My CTR has even dropped within the last couple of months.

I have $16k that they still need to payout but thats not guaranteed that I'll get it. Because my site is adsense search based, unless I completely shut down the site, they will be getting their revenues anyway.

Anyonehave tips to help enable an account? Should I just wait and hope to hear an appeal or should i got the hacker news publicity route and document everything and get as much press as possible to bring awarenss to my issue?

netmeg




msg:4453813
 4:03 pm on May 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Did they tell you why it was disabled?

Your best bet is probably to wait and see if your contacts can come through.

Dugger




msg:4453832
 4:56 pm on May 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Just an update on my situation. The appeal of the disabling of my account failed. So, an 8 year relationship with Google was tossed out the window.

If they are willing to do that, my thinking is that there is something seriously wrong with their business model. They spent the last few years pushing publishers to make changes to squeeze every last nickel they could from ads on websites. Now they must be finding that worked too well for them so they are going in hard reverse.

I personally would not be looking to buy shares at this point.

NomadMan




msg:4454049
 7:39 am on May 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

It just struck me how easy it must be - with the right bot artillery in place - to get non-premium Adsense accounts terminated. A matter of a few weeks and it's done.

Only those with a close eye on traffic and responsive action (disable ads showing) might save their Adsense account - for now. Years of meticulous Adsense compliant site building isn't going to save any non-premium. Same as for being an active and valued member of the Adsense help forum.

Apparently there is no such thing as refunding Advertisers and send a strong warning to a publisher. It's game over with only a one shot appeal.

Most know about the terms of the contract, but apparently didn't expect is was going to play out 'like this'. And it's all legal within the contract.

In terms of a business case - it's an extremely narrow path along steep cliffs. No bank would ever support it.

Basically for an experienced Bot operator - a non-premium Adsenser is a sitting duck in terms of the Adsense contract. You press a button, they terminate.

Unless you're a (brand) premium. Then the road is wide and smooth and you're pampered with all sorts of privileges. Bots can do all they like.

'Watch your traffic' Uh?

netmeg




msg:4454113
 12:19 pm on May 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think it's always been that way. There's no support, and on the scale they're trying to operate, it's easier for them to just get rid of the problem, because there's always a hundred more publishers to replace it. Unless you're connected somehow, or can make a big enough stink to get someone to take a closer look.

I think now we're just seeing more (and smarter) miscreants, bots, and fraudsters.

Dugger




msg:4454124
 1:04 pm on May 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

It may not be illegal but Google's behavior is looking a lot like that of an uncaring behemoth. It has become the Microsoft of old that we all abandoned.

In my case I made in the neighborhood of $80,000 from Adsense over the years and Google would have made more. Earnings were increasing (not because of invalid clicks) so they stood to keep on making money in the future. For them to consider that chump change and make NO attempt to work with the publisher tells me a lot about Google and I don't like what I see.

Just like I abandoned Microsoft years ago, I have stopped using Chrome, stopped using Gmail, and everything else Google - and will never click on another Google ad in my lifetime.

It may not be illegal but it IS stupid.

hawaiisurfer




msg:4454128
 1:10 pm on May 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

[ Did they tell you why it was disabled?

Your best bet is probably to wait and see if your contacts can come through. ]

they said "we've determined that your AdSense account
poses a risk of generating invalid activity."

Nothing in my traffic logs indicates any crazy behavior and unless some random user started searching for random terms and started clicking on all the ads i dont know would cause any mishap. Even that would not even make a dent in my earnings at all. Especially not to the degree of $16,000.

I'll just be patient and I guess ride this storm out. Hopefully everything works out well especially since I know nothing was done on my part that I was at fault.

Just researching all the horror stories im not feeling optimistic but at the very least I can perhaps utilize my adsense contacts and their phone numbers.

NomadMan




msg:4454157
 2:41 pm on May 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Dumping experienced adsensers with years of track record who are VERY aware of the risks isn't going to help anyone on the long run.

The "who cares attitude, just dump em" because there are always more willing to take the beating - is going to reach unsustainable levels at some point (Unless the new kid is a brand premium of course).

The influx of non-premiums who can match years of publisher experience in a record time is close to zill. If a new kid hits the Adsense jackpot chances are they'll be kicked out before they know it. It takes quite a bit of time to really understand the Adsense policies "dont's".

All this to protect the Advertiser - which of course is a valid reason but where is the line? I mean where is the line that reads "The internet is a volatile place, some of your budget gets wasted - sorry"

Even a street billboard gets shot at once in a while because someone doesn't like it. Well - let's burn the office of the publisher, instead of giving em a chance to repair the billboard.

It's all legal - and those who're willing to challenge that in court must have big powerfull friends and a long breath.
So better not kick the premiums, they can bite back hard.

As Mr Slim once said:

"Look around the table. If you don't see a sucker, get up, because you're the sucker"

Dugger




msg:4454366
 1:51 am on May 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

It may not be illegal but Google's behavior is looking a lot like that of an uncaring behemoth. It has become the Microsoft of old that we all abandoned.

Earnings were increasing (not because of invalid clicks) so they stood to keep on making money in the future. For them to consider that chump change and make NO attempt to work with the publisher tells me a lot about Google and I don't like what I see.

Just like I abandoned Microsoft years ago, I have stopped using Chrome, stopped using Gmail, and everything else Google - and will never click on another Google ad in my lifetime.


I take it all back. I was at fault - unknowingly, but at fault. And Google is working to resolve the issue.

It seems that the invalid clicks were caused by a link checker (Chrome add on) I was using to checks links on hundreds and hundreds of pages. The particular link checker was also checking the Google ads.

I have a sneaking hunch that this may the root of many small publishers problems.

Anyways, Google is good again - they are not the uncaring behemoth.

netmeg




msg:4454635
 3:15 pm on May 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I dunno that I'd go that far, but I'm glad you sourced the problem and got someone over there to listen.

MrSavage




msg:4454638
 3:24 pm on May 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Dugger can you verify that you are reinstated or what? It's not clear from what you just posted. It helps knowing what exactly happened to you in this instance. Thanks.

ps. LOL at what netmeg said.

Dugger




msg:4454639
 3:35 pm on May 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am now back up and running (I wasn't yet when I made the last post).

I think if I can offer any suggestions from the experience it would be to consider that when you are filling in the appeal form - don't do it right away without thinking about it very carefully first.

The appeal form as it currently is leads the person filling it out to think more about the invalid clicks coming from only some possible sources which can lead you to not think about other sources.

As well, when your account is discontinued and you are trying to think what happened to cause this, the tendency is to think about what has happened in the last couple of weeks but it can be all about something that happened over a period of a few days a couple of months ago.

I hope that helps.

MrSavage




msg:4454654
 4:01 pm on May 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ok great and glad to hear you're back in action. This gives me some helpful guidance should something happen to my account. Thanks.

Reno_Chris




msg:4454664
 4:24 pm on May 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I take it all back. I was at fault - unknowingly, but at fault. And Google is working to resolve the issue. It seems that the invalid clicks were caused by a link checker (Chrome add on) I was using to checks links on hundreds and hundreds of pages. The particular link checker was also checking the Google ads.


Exactly – as the first person who responded to this thread stated real clearly -

Most of the time (that I know of) that when people say they have done nothing wrong etc. with a bit more digging, you find out they have.

Think about it – a link checker is going to check all links – and you installed it. I’ll bet you saw a substantial increase in clicks when you used this program - but you never correlated in your head the cause and effect.

Sometimes there are exterior click attacks to a site and that’s not the fault of the webmaster. However most of the time, like the first responder said, the problem is self inflicted and caused by the actions of the webmaster, whether he admits it or not. I am sure once in a while G bumps off a site improperly, but the vast majority of banned sites are due to the actions of the webmaster violating the rules.

hawaiisurfer




msg:4456080
 6:46 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Dugger how did you get it back after your appeal was denied?

Did you just file additional appeals? Usually they tune out once your denied I thought?

Still awaiting for my appeal. Been about 8 days.

Dugger




msg:4456113
 8:29 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

When I submitted my appeal, I also submitted a second appeal after that with additional information and that second appeal was acknowledged and they did recognize that it was additional information to the first appeal - so you have nothing to lose by trying that route.

I would think really hard first about the reason why your account may have been disabled and try to identify the reason. It could have been a limited event a couple of months ago and not something recent. If the information you provide them matches what they are seeing on their end you have a chance. If you continue to approach it from that angle that there is no possible way it could be your fault you reduce your chances of success.

Independent of that I was lucky to catch the eye of an Adsense rep who was willing to explore my situation a little deeper. I was contacted by him so that is where the luck came in. It was stated to me that for obvious reasons they can't do this with everyone.

You had mentioned that you had contacts within Adsense - they are of no help to you?

hawaiisurfer




msg:4456566
 7:22 pm on May 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I just submitted a 2nd appeal only a couple days after a 1st appeal because like you said I had additional information and wanted to give them as much information as possible.

After thinking over the situation many times over the most likely possibility that I could think of was that I got a small portion of accidental clicks when I enabled the image search tab on my adsense for search engine. Google was pushing for users to enable this feature on their blog but thinking it over, it probably was the wrong move for me. Since 99% of my searches are mobile, when users try to search images alot of them probably accidently click on the ad. This could lead to a possible high bounce rate and trigger some alerts on googles side especially in my case since I have HIGH volume of monthly searches. It's alot easier to click on ads when your faced with a 3 inch screen vs. a large laptop and also the image tab/ad space difference is about half a centimeter away from each other.

I've approached it from this angle and hopefully it helps because I think this could be the issue. I've stayed in contact with my adsense rep and he gave me tips to make sure everything was written and explained in detail. Ultimately he said the policy team would handle the appeal and I'd just have to wait and see.

I haven't received the final verdict yet so I'm just waiting and hoping for the best. Thanks Dugger for the tips! It's good to see honest publishers not being trapped forever and having a sliver of hope in being rightfully reinstated.

jpch




msg:4456724
 12:28 am on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've stayed in contact with my adsense rep and he gave me tips to make sure everything was written and explained in detail. Ultimately he said the policy team would handle the appeal and I'd just have to wait and see.


How do you get an AdSense Rep? Are you a Premium Publisher?

hawaiisurfer




msg:4456991
 3:24 pm on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I was on track to make over 6 figures this year with but I'm not a premium publisher or received any special status.

I just was able to make contacts with adsense managers at the adsense and google sponsored events when they come to your city.

Alot of them are really cool. Unlike the automated and copy/paste replies, most are super willing to help and hear you out. When you're sincere and honest with them, there willing to work with you and help you out in the future.

Thats how it worked for me. I had nothing but good to say about the adsense managers/reps that I met in person. Nothing but professionals.

hawaiisurfer




msg:4461834
 11:06 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well finally got a reply to my appeal which stated that it was denied. I'm not sure how much I believe their reasoning and explanation about why I was denied and how they refunded the advertisers. I have pretty incriminating evidence that proves otherwise.

What does the community think i should do here?

1) Just wait it out and hope for being resinstated at a later time

or

2) blow this up and make it as public on the big sites like hacker news etc. Every post that I've posted on hacker news has hit the front page and everyone knows nothing gets the hackers rilled up as much as adsense banning does. Usually front page post generate tens of thousands of pageviews etc. which ultimately result in a google employee chiming in sooner or later. This post would be different because I'd be supporting it with specific evidence rather than just stating how much Adsense sucks etc etc.

The whole process is just making me mad because there is no transparency whatever so ever and no open communication from their part. Also the fact I'm owed 5 figures in earnings from last month doesn't help either

hawaiisurfer




msg:4461835
 11:06 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

has anybody perhaps signed up for multiple adsense accounts under a business account or perhaps transferred your site to another person?

Leosghost




msg:4461840
 11:23 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

As far as anyone knows so far*..Google don't "reinstate" having already refused to do so on appeal..

*Someone may have different information , but I've never seen or heard of it..

has anybody perhaps signed up for multiple adsense accounts under a business account or perhaps transferred your site to another person?


Many have said they have done so ( either used multiple accounts or other names after a ban ) all have reported eventually being banned again..Google have an immense ability to cross reference and sift their data, much of which we never see in serps or elsewhere..

netmeg




msg:4461864
 1:36 am on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

If it were I, I'd be hollering all over the place and calling attention to it everywhere I could think to do so. Particularly if I had a lot of evidence to back it up.

But that's just me.

IanCP




msg:4461991
 10:30 am on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

1) Just wait it out and hope for being resinstated at a later time

or

2) blow this up and make it as public on the big sites

A real BIG call.

Speaking from some personal experience in other arenas, taking on powerful interests, drawing attention to oneself, be aware:

1. There exist people who for no other reason, can and will, expend vast sums of PR money to discredit you. No matter the validity of your position.

2. Ever been hit with multiple "libel suits"? Been told directly to your face "are you prepared to put your assets, the family home on the line to take us on" when their costs are petty cash to them?

3. Take us on and our first legal move is have you post a bond in the court for $10 million against costs if you lose. We don't have to post a bond, $10 million is petty cash to us.

I honestly can't advise you. Even if I intimately knew every detailed fact, I'd still approach it with great trepidation.

It's dead easy for folks [sincerely] to speculate here. At an absolute minimum, the stress alone is sufficient to cause marital breakdown.

What's worth more to you?

Fine if you can get influential backing from like minded groups, with public clout, where you are one of many, to a large extent personally insulated.

No, I don't back away from fights, but I don't take them head on anymore. I work through my legal legislative processes in the background and after 15 years?

Manufacturers, retailers, politicians say:

"Oh God, why pick on us?"

Having said that? It's still a tough call. I don't know your circumstances but imagine for the moment [this is NOT far fetched] you receive a letter in the mail from:

"Smith, Fitch and Fudge"
Highest priced lawyers in New York.

Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms hawaiisurfer,

It has come to our attention you have seriously defamed our client the XYZ Company.

Our client is anxious to settle this matter amicably. Please sign the attached letter of apology, where you also promise to never malign our client again. [a 1,000 page letter].

Please attend to this matter promptly. Meanwhile we enclose a letter for our costs, in the sum of $10,000, to date.
[end]

Believe it or not, on another different matter entirely, I saw a mate get that one from?

Mr. Apple, circa 1989

Just my $0.02 worth. I neither encourage nor discourage you. I exhort you to think things through and consider family first.

From bitter experience.

ADDED

The $10,000 costs was for only writing that letter. In my mate's case 1989? The actual figure was around $1,500

It was to do with flogging Apple clones back then.

netmeg




msg:4462053
 1:59 pm on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

You *can* make a big noise without stooping to defamation. You just have to be more calculated than emotional about it.

StoutFiles




msg:4462111
 4:55 pm on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)


1) Just wait it out and hope for being resinstated at a later time


You'll be waiting forever.


2) blow this up and make it as public on the big sites like hacker news etc.


You could, but the Google employee would just chime in with "Well, he did something that got people to click ads accidentally, and that breaks the TOS." You'll also be killing any chance of reconciliation.

Your best chance is to get a real life person on the phone to explain what happened. People are cold and ruthless through emails whereas they are more understanding when talking to someone. Be honest, sad, and eternally grateful that they will take another look at it. They do still have humans working there, they have just been dehumanized by so many people gaming the system that their first response is "lifetime ban"; its clean and efficient.

I've seen appeals through email turned down but a phone call reverse the decision. Give calling a shot before you start a rampage.

nettulf




msg:4462216
 9:41 pm on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

I remember from end of january this year, there was a guy with a popular site who did just that; lost his adsense account and posted on Hacker News and Google+. He eventually got attention from Google (on Google+) and his account reinstated.

hawaiisurfer




msg:4462751
 1:34 am on Jun 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

@IanCp - I'm not about to defame google and starting spreading rumors. I actually love google as a whole! I'm a avid user of all their services, outspoken android dev rep in my local mobile community club, shareholder, etc.

I just felt that my situation was unique and wanted to share my experience with others so that people that fully rely on adsense can understand the risks. Also of course I wanted to bring attention to my account so that I could get a 2nd look and at least have the chance to answer any concerns to why my account was disabled. Not just the standard you have had a couple invalid clicks reason which I felt didn't have reasonable weight.

@stoutfiles i def do think that is the best way to get a real human on the phone or in person. I've met a few adsense reps in person and they were nothing but professionals. It's kinda easy to sympathize with the adsense team when you read the google forums. It's like everyone and their mother is in a huge rage that their adsense account got banned when they had their friends click on a link or they were promoting their pirate bay blogspot blog etc lol

I just wish there was a way to differentiate between the spammy adsense pubs from the legit ones. I think that because there is no way right now to distinguish between the two that some of the legit pubs end up getting lost in the shuffle or between all the copy/paste support email replys.

@nettulf I remember reading that too. It def gives hope to people who feel they have done all the right things and been wrongly disabled.

-----

Im still holding out hope. I'm going through my contacts to have my account looked at in a personal way and hopefully have my situation reassessed. Thanks everybody for all the great help! I'll keep everyone posted on the situation!

IanCP




msg:4462837
 8:08 am on Jun 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

@hawaiisurfer
I actually love google as a whole

I mourn for you. They've burned themselves out with me in the credibility department.

Just another "slag" US Corporation rapining the planet, another day "on the job", business as usual.

So much for the ideals of the original creative entrepreneurs.

scriptmonkey




msg:4465628
 9:01 pm on Jun 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Just another "slag" US Corporation rapining the planet, another day "on the job", business as usual.
After 12 years in the job, I'm beginning, just beginning, to feel the same way

PS. I don't think there is a rapining, plundering would be better :)

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