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Adsense and Virtual Private Networks

     
3:19 am on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Another interesting question folks.

I own a site with a discussion forum that targets college students.

Now, let's say almost all the traffic comes from students at a college "X", and they are not the kind of traffic that would abuse google ads on my site (which they don't), but occassionaly they would click on the ads that appeals to them from their college computers, and those computers are on a private network... usually somewhere between 10-20 clicks a day, depending on the what day it is...

...you know where this is going, can this cause problems? will google think one student is behind all this? or give the benefit of the doubt that it's actually quite the opposite?

:)

3:31 am on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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will google think one student is behind all this?

Not for the reasons most people who ask this question are thinking.

But if little old me can tell how many people actually clicked even though the clicks came from the same IP and cookies were not used etc., I'm sure Google can.

JAG

6:18 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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if little old me can tell how many people actually clicked even though the clicks came from the same IP and cookies were not used etc., I'm sure Google can.

I agree.

What worries me is that, these college students visit from their school's libraries, computer rooms, etc. All the computers they use to visit my site are owned by their colleges. So in otherwords, a single pc can be used by multiple students on multiple times, therefore they are all sharing the same IP address and cookies, or whatever other information you can pull from these computers.

So, there is probably no way to differentiate between one person visiting my site or multiple people are without physically being there.

Or am I missing something here? :)

6:57 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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So, there is probably no way to differentiate between one person visiting my site or multiple people are without physically being there.

There are, but none that are 100 percent accurate. In your scenario Google should be able to tell the difference somewhere in the high 90's percentile though.

JAG

7:02 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You keep asking questions that make me think you're involved in some kind of small-time scam. Just forget about this stuff and get back to building a worthwhile site.

Google are way, way smarter than you (or me). They've been running this program for years and know a lot of tricks. If your traffic is natural then you'll almost certainly be OK. If it's not, you're going to have a very very short career as a fraud artist.

9:23 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I own a site with a discussion forum that targets college students.

Would advise you to email AdSense support letting them know same info you posted here and ask if it can cause any problems. Maybe they would ask you to take ads off the site, maybe not. But think you would feel more confident when you get this topic clarified by AdSense support.
9:55 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What worries me is that, these college students visit from their school's libraries, computer rooms, etc. All the computers they use to visit my site are owned by their colleges.

Not necessarily. There are plenty of students that buy and use their own computers.

So in otherwords, a single pc can be used by multiple students on multiple times, therefore they are all sharing the same IP address and cookies, or whatever other information you can pull from these computers.

Again, not necessarily. There are universities that assign accounts to individuals; these accounts will have their own cookies, user agents, language preferences, etc. So they may be sharing the same IP, but not necessarily much else.

However, keep in mind that fraudsters know this, so they can create traffic that looks like what you'd normally see from a university.

Bottom line: it is easy to create fraudulent traffic. If you suspect such, advise G immediately; consider pulling your ads temporarily.

3:04 am on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You keep asking questions that make me think you're involved in some kind of small-time scam.

Dude, I was looking for some advice, not some random attacks.

If you suspect such, advise G immediately; consider pulling your ads temporarily.

Thanks. :)
9:31 am on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Jack, perhaps I am not as suspicious as Jomaxx is about this specific point, but in my opinion this question also should set off some sort of alarm bell. For example, the fact that you know that a specific group of college students clicks 10 to 20 times a day on your ads worries me. How large is that group of students?

We have seen so many new forum members here asking questions about walking the line of the grey areas. It is not unusal that these questions are followed by the infamous "I-am-banned-but-did-nothing-wrong" post.

Jomaxx's remark is far from a random attack. It looks much more like a well intented warning based upon trouble we have seen before.

But to get back on topic; I would never get involved in whatever scheme that would lead to a relatively small amount of people visiting my Adsense site and clicking my ads over and over again. Especially not if that group of people is located in the same town, company, college or whatever. The Adsense algo might raise the red flag and your account could be banned for it. Return visitors are OK but you always need a fresh flow of new visitors from other places.

5:53 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I hope the remark was off base, but it wasn't random. It was triggered by your previous thread ("what time of the month does Google ban accounts for fraudulent clicks?"), and by the fishing around in this thread for information about how Google can track individual activity on a shared computer.

Working in your favor is that Google know what they are doing. They're well aware that diverse traffic CAN come from a narrow IP block, and I wouldn't be surprised if they had compiled a profile of the majority of IP addresses requesting ads -- which ones represent cable modem users, which are school/university firewalls, which are businesses, which are distributed ISPs such as AOL, which are proxy servers, etc. etc.

Working against you is that Google can never have perfect knowledge of who the faces are behind your site's traffic. Also forums are not a particularly good fit for AdSense. Also college students are not the most sought-after demographic by advertisers. Also if the forum is basically for you and your friends, then I really would suggest that AdSense isn't for you: the risk is too high and the benefit is too slight. Why risk a lifetime ban just to earn a free beer or two each month?

9:35 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Also forums are not a particularly good fit for AdSense.

I apologize for my earlier comments, I just wanted to get a positive feedback with no fraudulent intentions against adsense.

Also, if forums are not good fit for adsense, then what is? (blogs perhaps?

Thanks. :)

9:53 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If you put up a website for a specific institution, I would make sure that Google had a note on my account about it.

By the way, I believe you are thinking of a private IP address range, not a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Most colleges have non-private addresses for most hard-wired school-owned computers, and only use shared addresses in situations like wireless routers or access ports in the classroom or the library. Small private institutions might be different.

And yes, your obsession with getting in trouble does look suspicious.

 

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