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Is Google acting legally when they ban accounts?
proninja



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 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.

 

Lame_Wolf

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lame_wolf us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 3:44 pm on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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.

Go to the offical adsense forum and see the one that come out with things like "I didn't know I couldn't click on my adverts" yadda, yadda, yadda.

And make sure your privacy policy is up to date.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 4:05 pm on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

There are probably different laws depending on where you are, and maybe it's not legal everywhere. I am not a lawyer and I don't know. As LW says, in most of the cases I've read about, there was a clear and obvious breach of the terms of service present.

I've also yet to hear about a serious challenge by someone whose account was closed because of a "serious risk to publisher" type notice - in those cases, it seems Google usually does pay up to date, but refuses to continue displaying ads.

What I do know is, everyone in the program accepts the TOS, very few have read the entire thing (I admit I haven't read it myself since 2005 and I'm sure it's changed many times since then) and none of us probably have the resources that Google does.

I suspect lack of transparency might be a more compelling legal argument than "Google closed my account" - but again, IANAL.

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 6:28 pm on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Define "legally" as it's business, a matter of civil law, and it's a bit late to be concerned about contract terms after the fact isn't it?

Google created the contract, you agreed to abide by it, and them being able to cancel that contract at any time for any reason is a term you agreed to when you joined AdSense.

Besides, even if you don't like those terms, you're not in control. Your only alternative if you didn't like the terms was to simply not join AdSense.

lucy24

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 2:12 am on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Not all contracts are legally binding. The stereotypical law-school example is: you cannot sell yourself into slavery. At least not in the US. Pore over your local laws and you will find phrases like "such-and-such is contrary to public policy" meaning that contracts involving such-and-such will not be upheld.

But there are two entirely different questions here. One is unilaterally cancelling your contract. The other is money. There are situations where you can be made to pay for a service you didn't receive, but they're pretty narrowly constrained.

AdTrafficQuality



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 3:55 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone! I'm with the Ad Traffic Quality team at Google. We are responsible for the ad traffic across the AdSense network. We have recently put a lot of work into helping improve publisher (and advertiser) education by revamping our Ad Traffic Quality Resource Center: [google.com...] We hope that it is valuable to you as publishers and I suggest you have a look if you haven't already.

To the points on this thread, understanding the AdSense policies is very important. We want to ensure that everyone operates fairly in the ad ecosystem by following the policies that each publisher agrees to. As far as withholding earnings, when Google deducts revenue all money is refunded to the affected advertisers. This includes any revenue that Google earns.

Also it sounds like some of you are aware of the invalid activity form: https://support.google.com/adsense/bin/request.py?contact_type=invalid_clicks_contact&rd=1, which is the best way to let us know if you see anything strange or unexplainable! We constantly monitor the AdSense network, but being proactive as a publisher goes a long way to ensure that we can help protect the advertising ecosystem.

Thanks!

John
Ad Traffic Quality
Google

Lame_Wolf

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lame_wolf us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 4:08 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hello John,
Nice to see someone from Google at last. We wish Google would appear more often, and to be helpful. Please read other threads in this forum, as you will see things are not the way they used to be.

Lame_Wolf

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lame_wolf us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 4:12 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

but being proactive as a publisher goes a long way to ensure that we can help protect the advertising ecosystem.
That's fine, as I often report sites that violate the TOS. But please answer me this... why does it take over 3 months for a site to get banned when they are asking people to click on their adverts? You cannot have a higher priority than blatent fraud.

Slow responses to reporting violations isn't exactly motivating me to report more.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 5:55 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Aha! I always suspected Google looked at traffic quality, and here's a whole team devoted to it.

(welcome, John, I hope you stop by every now and then)

AdTrafficQuality



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 6:06 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Our AdSense Policy and Ad Traffic Quality teams work hard to find implementations like the one you described and we're constantly working to improve our systems to detect this.

While the invalid activity form is intended for publishers to report activity on their own sites, it is good feedback for us to provide a formal avenue for notifying our team of violating sites and implementations.

Play_Bach

WebmasterWorld Senior Member play_bach us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 6:13 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

> Nice to see someone from Google at last.

+1
Yes, welcome John!

StoutFiles

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 6:19 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Glad you're here John, but you guys always disappear before long. We've have numerous ASA's (AdSenseAdvisor) but they always up and leave.

AdSense talk usually revolves around fear, mistrust, falling earnings, glass ceilings, and pay day. Hope you know what you're getting into.

AdTrafficQuality



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 6:47 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hopefully this is a start to a beneficial relationship for everyone :). One of my goals is to empower publishers with enough education to be successful with AdSense and to also see how we can improve.

I'm actually fairly new to the WebmasterWorld forums, but I look forward to being a useful resource for everyone and vice-versa. And thanks for the welcome messages everyone!

John

MrSavage

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 7:05 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Glad to have you here John. I appreciate the links you posted.

I've always found it interesting that there are help forums for products yet no official representation. I think of it as announcing in your city, that there is a seminar. It's in a stadium and there are 20,000 people there. The stage is empty, and remains empty for the entire duration of the seminar. It's like a informational seminar without any host or representation. Sure everyone is there for the info and the session, but the stage is empty. The people in the stands (the publishers) talk amongst themselves as there isn't anyone from the company who are hosting this event. As bizarre as that sounds, this is accurate.

Regarding the OP, I noticed a bizarre amount of invalid clicks on a specific adsense unit. It was very odd behavior. I investigated further and realized that my issue most like was a conflict with a chikita ad which I had forgotten was even on the page. The past two days the invalid clicks seem to have gone away. It's a note to self that odd behavior from ads needs to be addressed by me looking into it before Google has to close or ban my account. Attention to detail more than anything is what I'm reminded of.

Sally Stitts

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 7:56 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Mr. Savage - I had one of those last week, VERY odd. BOTH a Chitika ad and an AdSense ad were displayed ON TOP of each other using Firefox. The text of the Chitika ad could be read, but with difficulty. Only the Chitika ad code was visible in the source code (it had been a Google ad previously, but it paid poorly, so I replaced it with Chitika). (Yes, I did take a screen shot, because I could not believe it. At the bottom, it said "AdChoices" from Google, and "Chitika | Opt out?"). It is almost as if Firefox had combined the ad info from the current cache, with the ad information from the current live page.

My solution? Bye-bye Chitika, in all instances. I sure don't need that kind of thing. Chitika has always had display problems. Truncated text, self-overwritten text, ads taking more room than their defined footprint size, etc.

Sorry about being off-topic, but I wanted Mr. Savage to know that I too experienced this weirdness. It would be a shame if such a functionality issue got you banned from Google. I'll stop now.
.

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 3:23 am on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

As administrator, I'd like to confirm that AdTrafficQuality is truly a Google employee as advertised.

Welcome!

koan

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 6:12 am on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

However, I have read so many horror stories about google just banning people and taking all their accumulated funds.


That got me a bit worried also some years ago but when I noticed that about 95% of people getting banned really had it coming (the worse offenders often screaming the loudest) with terrible sites, dubious traffic strategies and very ignorant about the whole program, in short they were the get rich quick types, often plagiarizing others, so I stopped worrying. Actually, I empathized with Google for having to deal with this type of entitled and uneducated publishers.

AdTrafficQuality



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 5:01 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone -

Thanks for the welcome. I just wanted to follow up to note that I'll be here to provide tips on how to be successful in AdSense (from a traffic quality perspective) as well as field questions related to this topic that I'm able to answer. My role, and my team's role, is to ensure quality traffic in the AdSense network, so I'll be focusing on this area. And I plan on being here for a while, so I'm very glad to meet you all!

John

Dugger

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 5:26 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

As a long time, problem free Adsense publisher who was just banned overnight without prior warning I am quite amazed at the heavy handedness of it all. In my case I believe the issue is related to a new ad I recently installed at the recommendation of the Adsense Team. The ad enjoyed instant success and I was impressed at how astute the Adsense Team must be in helping me increase my earnings.

Wrongo! Now they have discontinued my account and have kept thousands of dollars of my earnings. Because of the location of the ad I believe I know what the problem is and have removed the new ad but who knows if I will be reinstated or if they will more of the earnings than they should.

A few more alternatives for us small publishers would be welcome.

Lame_Wolf

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lame_wolf us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 6:21 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

In my case I believe the issue is related to a new ad I recently installed at the recommendation of the Adsense Team.
Was this a personal email to you, or one of those "you can add more adverts on x page" type emails. If the latter, I ignore them completely and you add them at your own risk.
Dugger

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 6:41 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

It was a personal email specific to one of my sites.

Lame_Wolf

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lame_wolf us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 6:52 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

It was a personal email specific to one of my sites.
I hope you've kept it.

BTW, what was wrong with the location of the advert ?

And I am surprised you've been banned, as such. I know of a site that broke the rules by asking people to click on their adverts, and had 21 blocks on the homepage. Yet, they were allowed back in... and broke the rules again on the same day! And yes, they still have their account. I am not surprised, I am shocked!

Slashus



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 7:05 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

AdSenseQualityJohn says,
As far as withholding earnings, when Google deducts revenue all money is refunded to the affected advertisers. This includes any revenue that Google earns.


I hear/read this over and over from you guys. Almost like you're saying since Google doesn't keep the deducted revenue - that it justifies every deduction, invalid click classification, etc that they do.

Kind of like, "This person was right-handed, but clicked an ad on, "leftiesRus.com" - INVALID CLICK - return to sender!

I know that's not the case (I hope) but that's the impression you give with your nebulous and non-specific communications. Hopefully, John - you're here to change all that!

Dugger

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 7:08 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

The ads were placed at the bottom of pages but some of the pages had contact forms on them and those forms get bots attempting to submit them. I suspect the bots were clicking anything in the vicinity of the Submit button. The ads were right below the submit button.

That is my best theory at this point.

Lame_Wolf

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lame_wolf us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 7:42 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

The ads were placed at the bottom of pages but some of the pages had contact forms on them and those forms get bots attempting to submit them. I suspect the bots were clicking anything in the vicinity of the Submit button.



Personally, I don't think that was the reason. If it were, there would/should be something in the TOS to warn people of such actions.

The ads were right below the submit button.


Depending on how close, could be a reason. But that should be a warning, not a ban.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 8:35 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Almost like you're saying since Google doesn't keep the deducted revenue - that it justifies every deduction, invalid click classification, etc that they do.


That's exactly what they're saying. Remember, the publishers aren't driving this bus, the advertisers are. If Google doesn't get paid, we don't get paid.

Morever, if your site presents a significant risk - i.e. putting an ad on a form too close to a field or a submit button - that's all it takes. The advertisers are always going to be protected over the publishers.

That's the way AdSense works. Like it or not, it's what we signed up for.

jecasc

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 9:30 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

If Google supects fraudulent activity, bans the account and then refunds the advertisers for this period of time, then it is logical that since there is no ad revenue they can't pay out any funds.

If they keep the money for themselves - don't return it to the advertisers and don't share it with the Adsense publisher - then - at least where I live - this is called fraud.

Because if there was no suspicious activity in that period of time, they have no right to withold any money. If you have not broken the contract they don't have any right to ban you or withold your funds. And if there was suspicious activity and they simply keep the money - then they are defrauding their advertisers.

Why not contact the advertisers and find out if they have received a refund. As an Adwords advertiser I would be very eager to know if Google just keeps my money in cases like this. However I would be surprised if they did this. Because if this was an official business policy this would be a very serious criminal offense.

Dugger

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 10:02 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

When Google issues a check to a publisher it is for activity several weeks back. The suspicious activity they are banning for generally is recent - within the last couple of weeks. All of the money they are keeping for the most part would not be money earned from suspicious clicks that someone complained about and they need to refund. So that leads me to believe they are keeping the rest for themselves.

As well, according to their email, they will attempt to stop payment on previous checks issued.

Would you do business like this in the real, face-to-face world without getting sued?

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 10:23 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am an advertiser on behalf of clients, and we get money refunded to us every month.

It has nothing to do with people complaining, Dugger. If you want to understand how it works, you need to study up on AdWords as well.

I have a lot of issues with Google, but this isn't one of them. I have no reason to think they're not refunding the money, because I work both sides of the aisle.

IanCP

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450367 posted 10:44 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

I work both sides of the aisle

I'd be surprised if anyone knew better than you netmeg.

This 60 message thread spans 2 pages: 60 ( [1] 2 > >
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