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Invalid clicks?

Out-of-the blue letter from Google.

     
4:54 pm on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm a new google adsense member and earned about $700 within 2 weeks. But then I got this email from google adsense today (please read below). I don't believe them as I did not click my own banners to earn cash. I asked them to provide a copy of the report but they refused to do so. They have refunded the publishers from the amount I’ve earned in full. I did not get anything from google. I worked hard putting their stupid banners almost every page of my website.

How can I ensure if I'm getting ripped off by google? Can you trust this billion dollar company?

Email from google

<snip>

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 5:00 pm (utc) on July 14, 2004]
[edit reason] please see tos. We do not allow email excerpts on WebmasterWorld [/edit]

5:27 pm on July 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hello jthompson;

First, welcome to WW.

On to your problem.

You're not alone in getting the dreaded email. That probably doesn't make you feel better about it though.

There is really not much you can do about it. The Adsense TOS pretty much says we are all subject to the whims of Google. They have the final say, no matter how much one protests.

We don't see many threads from folks who have been re-instated, but apparently it does happen.

5:39 pm on July 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Sorry to hear about your experience. Others reading your message would benefit from approaching this situation a little different.

In your place, I would have not demanded proof by requesting reports as they would not provide those in order to keep their "auditing activities" effective.

As mentioned earlier, some situations have been resolved satisfactorily for both parties, but this seems to be rare. It should also be mentioned that receiving an email for "invalid clicks" does not neccesarily mean that they are accusing you of fraud, but that something was detected either in your site or on the actual clicks.

It can be frustrating to receive the email, but a non-confrontational attitute will go a long way to resolving situations like this with Google or with any business partner.

6:29 pm on July 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I really appreciate your advice. I was just prostrated when I spent weeks putting their ads and suddenly disabled my account without warning.

Thanks
JT

6:31 pm on July 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I could not of been nicer or more cooperative trying to reslove my issue, with no luck. I would move on. Google doesn't like sites with low conversion rates. Period. I have found more profesional acting businesses out there and you can make money without crazy rules you have no control over, you just have to be creative. Put Google behind you. Let those making thousands a week make their money, you'll just have to find other ways and they are there.
12:15 am on July 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Adsense is the farthest thing from being "fair" or "professional".

Tons of situations exist that demonstrate this, from stats not updating for days to these emails and account terminations. If they please shareholders as much as adsense publishers they are going to have a very very very very very rough time.

1:51 am on July 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Although there are those who "bow down" to Google, Adsense got off on a very bad foot from a business point of view. Time will only tell if they can turn it around. Any business that has such a large part of its' business (sending out the dreaded e-mail) disassociating itself from such a large group (poor converting publishers) has big problems. I guess we will all see what happens. My guess is they have made too many mistakes, but I've been totally wrong before...
2:02 am on July 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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> I did not click my own banners to earn cash

Just playing devil's advocate here - but there are other ways to be accused of "invalid clicks" aside from clicking on your own banners:

1) someone gained access to your computer and clicked on your ads.

2) violating the terms of service:

a) suggesting visitors to click on the banners
b) using other copyrighted content without permission
c) modifying the adsense code
d) manipulating the display of the code (using overlapping elements to hide "ads by google" for instance)
e) putting keywords (especially hidden ones) that have nothing to do with the content in order to attract high $$ ads.

etc. :P

3:56 am on July 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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raymond4unc-

well put. I agree 100%. I am truly curious to see what happens with the corporate governence of the company and subunit executives (such as adsense) when they slap their logo on NASDAQ.

I have a slight feeling that after the buzz of google stock, the public will not be all that impressed with the methods google uses to conduct business. Treating people badly, such as false terminiations, etc, will catch up with them and hurt them badly.

6:17 am on July 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I would like to respond to this thread.

I got the email, "disabled" one week ago. I emailed them right away back. Since I never click on my own ads and obey all rules, I was surprised, shocked and stunned by this email.

I supplied them all info, and also supplied them all my usernames and passwords to check every domain log, or whatever they might find interesting.
The reason I did this was to proof and show I don't have anything to hide.

They said "we will further check". But one day later, another email from Google told me that the account would not be reinstated, as invalid clicks were made.

I feel and am so mad. If you did something wrong, you know, but to be treated like this when I know 10000% sure there is no fraud, or something similar.

They abuse their power. I will soon start a new thread on this subject. I will add every email and info that I received. They are thieves to me, anybody who steals money from me is a criminal, and at the moment this is my opinion about Google. I am thinking how to spread their business conduct policy, to the rest of the public, so they know what kind of stocks they are buying.

I feel tied with my hands on my back and Google, slapping me in the face, saying they have that right, as written in their rules.
Sorry Google but that is not how you deal with people.
I respected Google, but they lost it all. Maybe one of Google's people will read this, and thinks.."let me see how I can help this guy"...that might change my mind. For now, they took my bread and water, and then blamed me for "invalid clicks", sorry sir we don't have to proof it, those are our rules.

Too bad to see a business like Google making such mistakes.

6:27 pm on July 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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lol Frank, Your broken English makes for an interesting read =)

Interesting how Google were not sure why your account was terminated, the uncertainty would worry me.

W.

8:02 pm on July 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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...I know 10000% sure there is no fraud...

I respect your honesty and expect that you are right when it comes to you clicking ads, but how do you "know 10000%" that others were not committing fraud on your site? Google doesn't care who does it, they just close the account of the site where it happened -- with little notice unfortunately.

10:31 pm on July 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Google is being very deceitful in my opinion.
And I have some very interesting info about how they treated fraudulent clinks on one website (read: they did not do anything about it). I have tons of screenshots, etc.
I am currently exchanging e-mails with them, and will see how it goes.
But if they continue to act oblivious I will post this information on all SEO forums out there.
11:34 pm on July 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I am not sure that you will accomplish much by stating Google ripped you off. Others that have gotten "the letter" will surely help you flame G. Others that make quite a bit of money and have sites that provide good conversion rates will just state that you and Google weren't a good fit. Your visitors did not provide any revenue to the advertisers, and thus the advertisers didn't want to play. If you read the TOS, they are doing everything by the book.

Kind of like discussing religion and politics... Completely biased.

11:55 pm on July 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Kind of like discussing religion and politics... Completely biased.

And just as unlikely to change anyone's mind.

It's probably because of the success of AdSense for most publishers that termination from the program causes so much grief. If I were kicked from Amazon I wouldn't give a hoot, but AdSense is a completely different ballgame for a lot of us, and regrettably we're at the mercy of the powers at Google if it comes down to perceived invalid clicks.

While there are some things that we, as concientious webmasters in the AdSense program, cannot do anything about when it comes to invalid clicks, I remain convinced that it is mostly within our control. In other words, it's a 90/10 percentage split in favour of the webmaster when it comes to reasons for invalid clicks.

1:13 am on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Google has expressed that it will warn a publisher about invalid clicks, and will only terminate without warning in the most extreme cases of abuse. While Google is cautious about accusing the account holder of committing the abuse, presumably in the vast majority of cases it is the account holder or people acting on behalf of the account holder who are committing the abuse.

The notion that Google should be concerned about alienating publishers whose sites don't convert - that is, those who offer advertisers little to nothing for their ad dollars - is interesting. I understand why a publisher whose site produces traffic with little commercial value might like AdSense revenue, even if the advertisers are effectively paying for nothing. But that's a losing proposition for Google and its advertisers, and I doubt that they'll lose any sleep if all of the publishers of low-conversion sites collectively quit AdSense tomorrow.

From what has been posted in this forum, for the most part Google has been very good about entertaining appeals from those who believe their accounts were wrongfully terminated. And while, as would be expected, appeals aren't always successful, some have been. If you can make the case that your termination was wrongful, make it with Google.

A lot of the complaints against Google remind me of the complaints I used to hear about dmoz from terminated editors. It is amazing how different their accounts of termination can be from the actual facts. Google's in this to make money. I am happy to take individual stories of injustice at face value, but I take the collective notion of mass injustice with a really big grain of salt.

3:40 am on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Sometimes it is really unfair. Last year when I first used AdSense on my websites, my account was disabled just because I used a wrong word on some pages.(And yes, it is really a wrong word, but I'm not aware at that time). It tooks me 1 mins to remove that word and 1 month to active my account. I lost a lot money during that month. Of cause, it is my mistake. But the unfair part is, when jumping from one site to another, we will always see some sites break the TOS of Adsense seriously, without any punishment. For example, a few days ago, I saw a website displays nine (9) Square ADs on one page, with same AD contents. Ha?
5:07 am on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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when jumping from one site to another, we will always see some sites break the TOS of Adsense seriously, without any punishment. For example, a few days ago, I saw a website displays nine (9) Square ADs on one page, with same AD contents. Ha?

Just because those sites are there today, doesn't mean they will be active tomorrow, or next month.

Nothing really unfair about that. Sometimes people break the rules. Some people just get caught sooner than others.

The people that are blatantly breaking the TOS don't get some sort of "special treatment", they just haven't been caught yet.

6:02 am on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hi Folks,

I'm pretty new to this group, but I'm with Adsense for last 9 months. Well, this is the 2nd time that my account got disabled. 1st. time they said it was for hits on my site from robots or program generated and this time they said it's for 'invalid clicks'!

I really doubt about the Google's mechanism for finding out hits/clicks as neither I had any robot to generate hits nor I did any fraudulant click! This is really sick policy from a $$$$ billion company! At the same time I agree that there's no point fighting with them as nothing will happen with that; they will keep on abusing their power!

7:15 am on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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[qoute]that others were not committing fraud on your site?[/quote]

We see this argument a lot here. Can somone tell me the definition of fraud. I always thought that the person must make pecuniary gain from it. ONLY the webmaster can make that type of gain therefore he/she is the ONLY one that can make invalid(for that read fraudulent) clicks.

10:28 am on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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don't G say "invalid clicks"

anyone can produce them...

12:14 pm on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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iprogram, it sounds like you're describing getting PSA's on your pages while you wait for the mediabot to revisit. That's not having your account disabled, and it is something pretty much every AdSense publisher has to deal with at one level or another.

Legally speaking, fraud is normally defined along the lines of:
1. The defendant made a representation of one or more material facts;
2. The representation was false when it was made;
3. The defendant knew the representation was false when the defendant made it, or defendant made it recklessly (i.e., without knowing whether or not it was true);
4. The defendant made the representation with the intention that the plaintiff rely upon it;
5. The plaintiff relied upon the representation; and
6. The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the reliance.

While fraud requires the injured party to have suffered damages, it does not require that the party who caused the injury turns a profit.

2:07 pm on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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1st. time they said it was for hits on my site from robots or program generated and this time they said it's for 'invalid clicks'!

I really doubt about the Google's mechanism for finding out hits/clicks as neither I had any robot to generate hits nor I did any fraudulant click!

Google's staff aren't accusing you of doing the clicking--they're merely stating that invalid clicks (which may or may not be fraudulent clicks) have occurred. They may feel that, after two such incidents, it's uneconomic to maintain your account.

To use an analogy, Google is like the insurance company that cancels a policy when losses become excessive. Even if the insured isn't guilty of the arson that burned his house down or repeated vandalism against his car, the insurance company may feel that the risks of doing business with him outweigh the potential profits.

Bottom line: It isn't necessarily about guilt or innocence; it's about dollars and cents.

4:55 pm on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Interesting analogy, EFV.

That seems to describe the trend we've been hearing with the various invalid click reports over the past few months.

Of course G is paying us instead of us paying the insurance company, but it seems to still fit.

When it's an email directed to you and in some cases taking away a good source of income, I can see how folks take it personally though.

Especially if they are new to online advertising networks.

5:57 pm on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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There definitely seems a two-tier thing going on here - I received an 'invalid clicks' email last month, but only got a warning...

Obviously I wrote back insisting my innocence, but even so, I've still got my account going strong.

Perhaps you had more invalid clicks than me or something?

6:36 pm on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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There definitely seems a two-tier thing going on here - I received an 'invalid clicks' email last month, but only got a warning...

I doubt if it's as simple as a two-tier "haves and have-nots" scenario. Human judgment probably comes into play, with multiple factors being taken into account.

6:55 pm on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I received an 'invalid clicks' email last month, but only got a warning...

Same thing happened to us this last spring, i.e., invalid clicks ‘warning’ email. We took some pretty aggressive steps including removing Adsense from the site for two weeks in an attempt to break 'the cycle' if we had someone intentionally clicking multiple times. We kept Google informed of our steps -- we wanted to establish in our Google file an impression of quick action and strong concern for the problem because we agree with EFV that human judgment probably comes into play when emails are sent out.

So far so good and income has never been better.

8:20 pm on July 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Even so, last week I got a random email from Google asking what they could improve about Adsense, and I replied with a comment about the fraudulent clicks policy being so unpredicable (having read about WebmasterWorld members being booted off for apparently doing nothing wrong, with no explanation). So hopefully they might listen and change things for the future!

I know it'd make many Adsense members relax a bit if they knew they would be given the chance to explain themselves in the 'invalid clicks detected' situation...

12:28 am on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I got that "random email" from Google too. I told them the same thing. I told them that the downside to AdSense is that you can be accused of "fraudulent clicks" (even though the clicks in question have nothing to do with your own activity) and you can be booted out of the program without recourse.
10:25 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It amazes me that there are so much people going through the same thing, and nothing can be done to stop Google.

Too bad I do not have the money to hire some good lawyer, but it is time to take further action.

What surprises me is that they do not just disable your account but they also take all your money from that month and the previous month (check was not approved yet). Why not just deduct the "invalid clicks"?

They also told me they would credit the adwords clients involved. I use adsense from the start of this program but never received a credit. Did anybody receive ever a credit?

I am sure they keep it 99% in all cases.

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