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Tested AdSense Click Reporting With my AdWords Account

I Believe Google Is Scamming Publishers

     
10:35 pm on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I am a long time sufferer of clicks being constantly taken away, which started mid 2013.

I believe everyone is familiar with the click shaving problem that affects certain group of publishers. More and more publishers are getting affected , you will see youe ctr suddenly drop to 0.5% and clicks are constantly being deducted every few minutes.

Here's my experiment:

I made an adword account and created an ad campaign that only allows ad to be displayed my own website's url. I then set up a custom channel in adsense to track that particular ad I created myself.

I then get to a internet cafe and start browsing my website. I clicked on the adsense ad on my website that I created in adword. Stayed on the destination url for a few minutes while checking out different pages.

3 days later when I checked the reports. My adword account was charged yet in adsense it recorded zero clicks ZERO. Meaning Google is taking 100% of the advertiser's fee without giving publisher anything.

So...whats going on?
10:44 pm on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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You may find this is by design. If publishers where able to create an AdWords account and serve their ads through adsence it may be a way to launder money?

Mack.
11:29 pm on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Well they are on different accounts and IP so there is no way their system will know.

And this is just an experiment of them taking away publisher's valid clicks.
11:30 pm on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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>different accounts and IP

Just to clarify, also different contact details and paypal/bank details?
11:42 pm on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hmm. I personally almost never have clicks taken away. Not sure why it happens to some and not others. 99% of my traffic is from SEs, maybe that's why. IDK.
11:50 pm on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Yes different credit cards and addresses as well.

I almost have to keep creating new adsenses account since they only start taking away clicks from new accounts after a certain periods of time.
12:57 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Take it to the Federal Trade Commission. There is certainly nothing that we can do here.

WDR
1:05 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Feds? Is that a can of worms to be opened?

Sadly (but rightly) we can't ask "what kind of ad on what kind of website, or what kind of publisher" in this forum, but that's something to be considered as well.
1:40 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'm sure most of the publishers including myself with clicks being taken away are sticking to Adsense policy, otherwise we would have received other sorts of warnings, not just mysterious vanishing clicks.

In the end of the day it could be anything that makes our account flagged/clicks taken away.

Could be site design, CDN/Proxy use like Cloudflare, Javascript conflicts, certain CSSrules, server configs, certain keywords appearing on website etc. Or even Google could have simply assigned an amateur programmer to carry out the latest invalid click detection algorithm and there is a small bug that is hard to notice with millions of publishers.

The truth is we don't know and Google remains silent even with all these posts on their official forum and hundreds of email being sent to Adsense support regarding the issue(we all love canned response).

I just hope the whole "click deletion" can be more transparent so that us the publishers can work to improve our website instead of helplessly watching our revenue fall by 80%.

[edited by: aznxfrost at 1:41 am (utc) on Mar 22, 2014]

1:41 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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so there is no way their system will know.


Google knows everything.
2:01 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I believe everyone is familiar with the click shaving problem that affects certain group of publishers.


Which group of publishers?
2:59 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Here's my experiment:

I made an adword account and created an ad campaign that only allows...


I really love your methodolgy and your summaries and it seems to confirm what I have suspected.

[edited by: martinibuster at 10:09 pm (utc) on Mar 22, 2014]
[edit reason] Correction. See PM. [/edit]

4:19 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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That's why Google's market shares keep rising while publishers' earnings take a massive nosedive. Sadly, we can't do anything about it.
4:23 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the post. You are the type of person a lot of us rely on. Most talk or speculate but few go the extra step like you have. It's commendable. I'm not so much saying this about going after Google, but I just mean in terms of being motivated to dig deeper and actually do it. Few do.

I would tend to concur with netmeg on this. I think it's best to assume there are no secrets and if you're trying to be sneaky, it's a game that you can never win. In terms of what you set up, it might be worth reanalyzing any possible holes, leaks, or oversights. If your test relies on outsmarting Google, I think it's going to require a lot of effort and ingenuity.

If you continue, I hope you post back.
5:35 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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All I can say is that I'm convinced that this last little episode of clicks taken back was a result of click-fraud from AWS and xlhost; at least on my site. Mostly because as soon as I banned them the reports stabilized.

It would be nice if G could warn us about them. But otherwise I'd be surprised if G were doing something that evil.

But if they are, then only the .gov could handle it.

WDR
5:40 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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How many unique visitors do you receive per day?
What kind of product do your site visitors want to buy?
Are the visitors there to look?
Are the visitors there to research products?

I believe it's difficult to draw reasonable conclusions from a site that records zero clicks in a day because it implies a low level of traffic. Low level of traffic points to other issues with the site that may be contributing to the problem.
6:22 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I believe it's difficult to draw reasonable conclusions from a site that records zero clicks in a day because it implies a low level of traffic. Low level of traffic points to other issues with the site that may be contributing to the problem.


Then the Adwords account should be credited.
9:22 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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google took you money, but if it is believed as fraud, you will be credited back later, maybe weeks later. definitely not instantly. check your billing reports later in april.
12:31 pm on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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AdWords accounts get credited at the end of the month (at least all mine do, but I'm on invoice terms so maybe credit card accounts are different)

So you might still see a credit.

I'm not buying it though. The test was way too simple, anecdotal, and frankly if Google *were* of a mind to scam people out of their pennies per click, they'd find a lot less obvious way to do it.

The one thing you can be guaranteed they value more than our pennies is New York Times headlines.

[edited by: netmeg at 12:46 pm (utc) on Mar 22, 2014]

12:35 pm on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Personally, I am no fan of big, impersonal, bossy corporations with all the rules bent their way.

Sicking the feds on them will accomplish nothing, as anyone with half a brain knows that the feds are even bigger liars and crooks. Their NSA goons have proven that.

Gotta run, black helicopter outside my window.
3:58 pm on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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technically, i suppose they are scamming the advertisers rather than the publishers. you are talking as if they were legitimate clicks, but we all know that they weren't. they were dud clicks, that were never supposed to lead to anything. so a publisher cant really complain (especially when he was the one who clicked them!).

it's the advertiser's money that has been taken, so they should be the ones to complain — they have paid for dud clicks.

i think its a bit early to use words like 'scam' though. maybe the clicks will get refunded at the end of the month
6:43 pm on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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3 days later when I checked the reports. My adword account was charged yet in adsense it recorded zero clicks ZERO. Meaning Google is taking 100% of the advertiser's fee without giving publisher anything.

They are checking the validity of the click first. If valid, publisher and Google get their share. If not, advertiser gets credited and publisher is non the wiser. Wait and see.
8:51 am on Mar 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Was only one click recorded in your AdWords account? Is it not possible that your click was discounted and someone else created a valid click? If so the advert may have been displayed on another website.

Mack.
11:22 am on Mar 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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You need more clicks to draw any conclusion...
12:21 pm on Mar 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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This "experiment" is way too conspicuous. Remember that Adwords was launched in 2000, Adsense in 2003, fourteen and eleven years ago respectively. The amount of fraudulent/suspicious activity they've dealt with since then has to be enormous, so you can't possibly believe your experiment would fly under their radar in 2014.
8:17 pm on Mar 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, sounds like black magic, right. The all seeing eye is here. Come on peoples, it's just technology, programming, logic, science, not black magic. Else how do you think that recent bots attack has succeeded? Technology beaten by technology.
8:23 pm on Mar 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Do you really think that if Google filters are so advanced they will not be able to filter a few problematic ips in order to keep reports conclusive and not adding and deleting earnings every 10-30 minutes, or reporting 50% or more CTR ratings?!
It's just obscurity, you don't know what's behind of that Google machine, and it scares you, but it's just logic implemented using programming, that's all.
9:24 pm on Mar 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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There is always a delay in refunding invalid clicks. Check your reports again next month.
12:15 am on Mar 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Just another thought to add to the mix...

I then get to a internet cafe and start browsing my website.


Are you certain it was your adsense code that was being displayed. I know of some ways of switching advert code using JS that some internet cafe operators may also employ to generate a bit of an extra income.

There is also the potability that the IP address for the cafe is on some form of blacklist. Internet cafes are the sort of place someone may go to click their own adverts.

Mack.
4:26 pm on May 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Did you get the full refund?