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Ex-Googler Discusses Where Banned Publisher Money Goes

Following the Banned Publisher Money Trail

     
6:35 pm on Dec 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Ex-Google employee Fili Wiese [filiwiese.com] formerly in the click fraud department comments on what happens [uk.businessinsider.com] when a publisher gets banned.


Google loses money too when a publisher gets banned. All money that is not paid out is in full returned to the advertiser, so Google also does not make any money.

...If the publisher delivers traffic that can result in invalid clicks then the advertiser is paying for this. The trust of the advertisers is of utmost importance.


The article discusses click fraud in the AdSense program and the recent lawsuit against Google.

It's a good read, take a moment to read the entire article here:

An Insider Told Us Why Google Takes Millions From Web Sites Who Break Its Rules [uk.businessinsider.com]

[edited by: martinibuster at 3:23 pm (utc) on Dec 28, 2014]

7:58 pm on Dec 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Speaking from experience as a long-term AdWords and AdSense user I believe, without any doubt, that Google returns the full cost of fraudulent clicks to advertisers.

Although I don't advertise at the moment, when I did I tracked a great deal of client/usage metrics for 93,000 different adverts (not just keywords, individually tracked ads) and could spot dodgy looking clicks (although it got trickier as Google reduced the amount of information available). Without fail, and without the need for me to raise the issue, Google would refund an amount that was in the ballpark of my expectations whenever I thought there were issues. In the end I gave up on the content network as conversion was much lower than search, but I gathered a lot of data on the way to that decision.

As an AdSense publisher, who takes care to keep things legitimate, I've had a very small amount of invalid acivity (0.05%). Although I can't see behind the curtain, relying on what Google tells me, I'm happy that Google is being fair.

I track AdSense clicks by vertical and have had alternative cpc advertising (from several Yellow Pages companies, and I know a lot about the verticals) to compare earnings. Dealing with other advertising partners was more lucrative but I'm sure that, knowing what I do from both sides of the AdWords/AdSense fence, that Google is passing on a fair share of advertising revenue.
8:37 pm on Dec 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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what does G do when an account is closed for other reasons?


like having multiple websites with the same content - a violation of the webmaster quality guidelines.

or having a site with non-unique content. for example, a site that just republishes the Declaration of Independence with no added value.


I would not consider clicks on sites like that to be invalid.
8:48 am on Dec 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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what does G do when an account is closed for other reasons?

As others have constantly said - refund the advertisers.
3:28 pm on Dec 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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In the article, the ex-Googler explains that AdWords places great importance on advertiser confidence in the system, which means that all invalidated clicks result in money refunded to the Advertisers.

It's a very good article and I encourage reading at least the statements by the ex-Googler.
4:27 pm on Dec 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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This is an interesting statement:

It is also important to keep in mind that Google is the client and the publishers are the suppliers. The publishers are responsible for the quality of the traffic they are delivering to the advertisers of Google. Google AdSense is just the platform which makes this easy and possible.


This is precisely the way that I've always thought of the relationship but Google's seemingly couldn't-care-less attitude and inability to get this message across has damaged the relationship between it and us.

They desperately need to be seen as a more caring, responsible and communicative company and not a bunch of geeks wrapped-up in their own bubble trying to dictate to the world what is good for it.

Maybe he would be a better replacement for MC?
5:58 pm on Dec 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I found that interesting too. We like to see ourselves in the role of client. Thus we demand things like better customer service, more caring, things a client demands from a service provider.

The ex-Googler frames it in reverse, that Google's the client and we are the service provider. Seen in that manner, does it make sense for the business to ask the consumer for customer service? When was the last time your ISP demanded you were a more caring client? Does it even make sense? When was the last time your plumber called you up to ask that you be a more responsible client?

We as publishers tend to see ourselves as the client. That's why we ask for more caring, more openness, more clarity, more features. Your ISP does not ask you for more features, right? So if we are like an ISP to Google the client, is it right for us to ask the client for more features? Something is incongruous about that characterization.

So maybe that Googler's way of framing our relationship is not entirely accurate? Or could it be that publishers have had their heads way up their rear ends all along and never realized that Google has been the client all along.

What do you think?
6:20 pm on Dec 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Contact law ( generally applies this way in all countries )..the client is not the one who draws up and decides the terms of the written / electronic contract..

The supplier draws up and supplies the written / electronic contract, which the client can / or not, agree to..

Purchase contracts, hire contacts, rental contracts, software contracts, service contracts, and services suppled contracts etc etc are drawn up this way..

Google draws up the contract with adsense publishers, which the publisher is invited to agree to / or not..

The client does not draw up / issue the contact..

Thus ..Google is the supplier, publishers are the clients..not the other way around..

Question(?) ..

1) Do Google "refund" advertisers money..when they shut adsense accounts..?
or
2)Do Google issue "credits" to advertisers when they shut adsense accounts..?

Everything I have read says that Google does the latter (2), not the former (1)..

BTW..by "refund "I mean the money arrives back in the customers bank account , not that it arrives back in the customers Google account which is funded by the customers credit card..
8:57 pm on Dec 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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At every AdSense Premium Publisher Conference that I have attended the issue of better customer service ( or service at all for many small publishers) comes up. They are not committed, because it would take money, to offer excellent customer support. It's so obvious they care about good customer service for Adwords advertisers, but even for top publishers like myself they are understaffed. And I am making millions on behalf of clients.
10:12 pm on Dec 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Google loses money too when a publisher gets banned. All money that is not paid out is in full returned to the advertiser, so Google also does not make any money.


Illogical...

Why would the advertiser NOT spend the money later via. Adwords? It is more likely that the profit is earned later..
3:18 am on Dec 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Google loses money too when a publisher gets banned. All money that is not paid out is in full returned to the advertiser, so Google also does not make any money.



Illogical...

Why would the advertiser NOT spend the money later via. Adwords? It is more likely that the profit is earned later..


Huh? Think about what you're saying...

Let's first answer your question. They wouldn't spend the money later IF they lost faith in the platform. The ROI on invalid clicks is zero.

So Google gives them the money back. They hopefully spend it on valid clicks, receive the ROI they deserve and then can make an informed decision if they want to continue to spend on Adwords.

(While you're saying it's illogical, you're actually supporting the point they're making...)
5:34 am on Dec 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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1) Do Google "refund" advertisers money..when they shut adsense accounts..?
or
2)Do Google issue "credits" to advertisers when they shut adsense accounts..?

Everything I have read says that Google does the latter (2), not the former (1)..


Exactly. The money in question will most likely be spent on AdWords in the future. Haven't read a thing about refunds to a bank account, only credits for AdWords.
8:25 pm on Dec 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Haven't read a thing about refunds to a bank account, only credits for AdWords.


Only experienced AdWords users could tell us that.

I would imagine the folks who pay for the advertising simply accept with confidence the fact they see credits into their account - and just carry on doing business as usual. Just another day at the office.

I don't think we would be seeing a situation where an advertiser has a monthly budget of $1,000 and it is spent without any return whatsoever. Then at the beginning of the next month they get $1,000 credited back owing to invalid clicks.

They might see perhaps $20 credited back. Who knows? Ask the advertisers. To me it's a non-issue.
9:13 pm on Dec 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've gotten a lot of credits back over the years for invalid clicks in AdWords. Never gotten a refund back (my clients are all on invoice terms) but I've also never asked for one - we intend to keep on with the advertising, so having the credits doesn't bother me.

Had I closed down the advertising account and Google refused to give me a refund, then I might get ticked off about it, but so far that hasn't happened, and I haven't heard of anyone yet that it has happened to.

So I'm not really considering it an issue. Most of the invalid clicks get filtered out before they're billed anyway (hence the takebacks we see on a day to day basis)
1:11 am on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It's so obvious they care about good customer service for Adwords advertisers, but even for top publishers like myself they are understaffed. And I am making millions on behalf of clients.


If we're the suppliers and don't like the service they give us we simply cut off the supply and see how much THAT costs them when there's no inventory for those AdWords ads.

If it hits them in the pocket hard they would wake up but people are afraid to try other advertisers like Microsoft or Amazon but it has to happen, one of the other upstarts needs to get more traction so things will change.

Until then, they're the biggest game in town and will never correct that behavior unless something forces their hand, economic or otherwise.

For the most part, just a little transparency would go a long way to allowing many to solve their own problems or some self-service software, or some good AI tools like IBM sells for many such problems.

Ir's very doable, they just don't want to do it.

That leaves us scratching out heads trying to figure things out in a vacuum which is not cool.
1:44 am on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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netmeg if all your clients are on invoice terms you do not get credits. You just do not get "billed" for the invalid clicks. For example, my client spends approximately $500,000 each month but we don't get the invoice in the mail from Google until about the 10th day of the next month. I look over the invoice and it shows a line item for adjustments. But there is no such thing as a credit if you pay net 30 to Google from your AP dept.

There are credits for Adwords clients that are not on letter of credit because you are essentially pre paying. Not the case with big advertisers.
2:03 am on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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incrediBILL even the top AdSense Premium Publisher Account Managers are totally left in the dark. Truthfully, they know virtually not much more than us publishers. They get no advance notice about changes or upcoming tests. Things like when Nessie was rolled - their support people had no clue. We essentially are their changes/communication channel. AdSense employees are so separated from the rest of Google that it's mind blowing. True story, the heads of Adwords Industry Retail do not even have contacts over at AdSense. AdSense is like a secret division at Google.
3:13 am on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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AdSense is like a secret division at Google.

Probably modeled after the likes of the Federal Government, military and other corporations that deal with sensitive data. Not that it makes it bad, but Google is such a large company that handles half of the online advertising globally, it would be difficult for an account representative to know all that is going on. In fact, with so much money being made, it's probably best for everyone that account reps are somewhat removed from the inner workings of Adsense. Once again, it's a matter of security - for all parties.
3:17 am on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My point is the Adwords side of the business is very informed and customer service friendly. AdSense just the opposite.
4:50 am on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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ruthfully, they know virtually not much more than us publishers.


I'm well aware of the situation as I've met a lot of the AdSense people, or I should say FORMER AdSense people and when I pushed for answers to hard questions they would take lots of notes to "get back to me" which if they ever did, had little to offer ir anything at all.

It was a joke.

Early on in the AdSense program I actually had my own assigned account manager. That person disappeared without notice, then I got another one which eventually vanished as well.

This forum used to have active AdSense employees visit and comment on issues on a regular basis and I'm not sure if they still pay attention or not as the last person I knew switched jobs and vanished from AdSense and I don't think the torch was passed.

As far as public relations go, AdSense is a joke.

As fas as making money goes, AdSense rocks if you know how to maximize it's capabilities. With the right set of web skills making 6 digits a year isn't much of a challenge. In my experience the problem most have that complain the most is a fundamental lack of real SEO skills, and picking poor niches, which is why AdSense fails them horribly.
10:42 am on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Advertisers don't have "confidence in the system". Any person that knows what they are doing does not post their ads on random content sites. I'm sure a few that have figured out some way to make money with it but most do not. The content network is paid for by new people that don't know what they are doing. Google takes their money and the people realize how dumb they were to have turned it on.

The content network works real great for retargeting and placement targeting. Every time I have seen it used outside of that it puts your ads on the worst possible websites and Google does not give you your money back.

That guy is full of it. Or at least trying to spin it.
12:45 pm on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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In my experience the problem most have that complain the most is a fundamental lack of real SEO skills, and picking poor niches, which is why AdSense fails them horribly.


I have read this sentence several times, I even went out for a long walk in the rain and snow, yet I still cannot believe what you have written!

It is a total and absolute insult to many posting on this board and especially to those whose widget niches have been Google-Shafted beyond belief.

With the right set of web skills making 6 digits a year isn't much of a challenge.


Really, oh really, no wonder this place has lost so many posters when such arrogance abounds!

I thought I may get to 1,000 posts with my current moniker however such Administrator/Moderator posts remind me why I end up disappearing for a few months.
3:16 pm on Dec 27, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The ex-Googler frames it [...] that Google's the client and we are the service provider.[...]

What do you think?


I've long seen it that, at the most basic level:

1) the Merchant Advertiser is the client of the Publisher;
2) the Publisher is the service provider to the Merchant Advertiser;

So far, so good. But where does Google then fit in?

Google is the broker: finding and delivering publisher advertising estate to Merchant Advertisers and helping to find Merchant Advertisers for Publishers.

On that basis, with Google as a broker:

3) Google is the service provider to the Merchant Advertiser;
4) Google is the service provider to the Publisher;

In conclusion, the Google (as broker) is only ever a service provider; the Merchant is only ever a client and the Publisher is

i) a service provider to the Merchant; and
ii) a client (ie. by virtue of paying for brokerage service provision) of Google.

Importantly, Google is never the client. To conclude such, one would have to regard the publisher advertising estate Google makes available to Merchant Advertisers as an asset that Publishers sell to Google, which, once it belongs to Google, entitles Google to sell it on. This is certainly not my understanding.
12:27 am on Dec 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Nice just as a class action goes to court an "ex-googler" runs a corporate scripted response......Suspicious, Yep, my #*$! meter is at 100%.
12:45 am on Dec 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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seoskunk you raise an interesting point about the timing of this story. Just reading the article now, it's pretty laughable that the source is someone who worked a pretty short time in a support position not even in the United States or Google's corporate headquarters. As buttoned up a company as Google is, this person would have no idea what really happens. And just because someone may write code that intends for credits, this person has no proof credits ever being processed. Yes I know that credits occur all the time, but there is no proof that they refund credits for 100% of the banned accounts. This person really is not in a position to be credible based again on his role and location in my opinion. I'm not saying Google DOESN'T refund all the click charges, but this person wouldn't know. If he was a witness in a lawsuit any real lawyer would make chop meat of this ex Google employee.
1:55 am on Dec 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Just reading the article now, it's pretty laughable that the source is someone who worked a pretty short time in a support position not even in the United States or Google's corporate headquarters.


Right, who'd take an Irishman seriously? And where do people get the idea that Google is a global company?

Yes I know that credits occur all the time, but there is no proof that they refund credits for 100% of the banned accounts.


There's no proof that they don't, either. Maybe Google should provide unfettered public access to advertisers' accounts for our convenience.
2:02 am on Dec 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Just reading the article now, it's pretty laughable that the source is someone who worked a pretty short time in a support position not even in the United States or Google's corporate headquarters.



Right, who'd take an Irishman seriously? And where do people get the idea that Google is a global company?

Yes I know that credits occur all the time, but there is no proof that they refund credits for 100% of the banned accounts.


There's no proof that they don't, either. Maybe Google should provide unfettered public access to advertisers' accounts for our convenience.


Fili Wiese is Dutch..not Irish..he worked in Ireland..
2:18 am on Dec 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Fili Wiese is Dutch..not Irish..he worked in Ireland..


Aha, so Google IS a global company. Who would have guessed? :-)
2:41 am on Dec 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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<slightly OT>
Some might find Fili Wiese's conversation on Reddit interesting..a search on his name will bring up the "thread"..I'm not sure if direct links to Reddit are OK ?
</slightly OT>
3:19 am on Dec 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Leosghost: Thanks for the Reddit suggestion. Interesting thread there.
This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31