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Inflated Adsense pageviews.

Anyone else? What's the motive?

     
1:03 am on Feb 11, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I have a website: www.example.com. ("www" is the preferred version, as declared in .htaccess as a redirect, the redirect works)

Somewhere along the line I declared both example.com and www.example.com as "owned" sites in my Adsense console.

On a few days over the last 2 weeks, I've had days where my reported Adsense pageviews were 2 to 4 times normal levels.

I've finally figured out that Adsense is reporting extra pageviews have come from example.com (the non-www form, which due to my .htaccess redirect, shouldn't ever be receiving any traffic at all).

Curiously enough, none of the errant non-www adsense pageviews ever generated any clicks. So it wasn't some type of click-bot thing.

Also adding to the puzzle, when I look at my server stats as reported by my hosting (Webalizer), none of the extra pageviews reported by Adsense show up there (and similarly hits, files, visits, sites, kbytes all look normal).

It's as if pageviews of my site are being shown, just on some days, massively so, but not by my server.

In fact, if it wasn't for my Adsense report, I'm not sure how I would have ever known any of this was going on.

Any ideas about where the cause of this issue lies and how to resolve it?

As far as my Adsense reporting goes, I've removed example.com (non-www) from my "owned" sites list, so I don't think I have any issues there. I'm more interested in what the motive here was, how it is done and how to stop it.
12:47 pm on Mar 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I have this exact same issue and it affects more of my sites but also my global RPM. Revenue is down as well because of this.

I am more concerned because I can't see how to tackle this issue. One way would be to take adsense down completely but that would be too harsh especially that it still is my main revenue stream. There was a discussion about this on the adsense forum as well - [productforums.google.com...]

This might be anecdotal but I noticed in the past after getting occasionally on the front page of reddit and having high traffic with low RPM, in the following days my RPM overall was always down. It is a thing that affected all my sites and it seems that now these fake hits have the same effect (without the benefit of real visitors at least).

I am stuck and I have no idea what to do next. I am not the only one affected and supposedly Google engineers are looking into this but it started over a month ago and it just got worse and I have no idea how long it will take them to resolve the issue. I have no solution to add to the discussion unfortunately.
2:03 pm on Mar 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This problem aggravates me.

I agree, looking at my stats now is totally useless.

My income last month was totally lackluster. I can't for sure state that my income drop is because of this problem but I don't trust that it isn't.

It's irritating that support hasn't simply stated that this is a problem at their end and we're working on it.

No fix in over 30 days suggests that it's a problem they're having trouble controlling.

For the first time I have zero confidence in AdSense from a technical standpoint. This problem suggest that all of their statistics are little more than just suggestions of what's taken place. And how I'm paid is based on nothing more concrete than the throw of dice.

If you're having this problem you need to report it.
4:15 pm on Mar 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Adsense needs a new broom - or better still - an industrial size vacuum cleaner.
10:06 pm on Mar 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Yea, I'm not holding my breath. Time to get creative with alternative monetization.
10:06 am on Mar 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Yesterday was clear of false pageviews in my reports - woohoo - hopefully that is the end of the problem and we can get data that we can work with now.
2:51 pm on Mar 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The same for me too, back to normal ... for the moment!
3:09 pm on Mar 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I've had some "normal" days interspersed among those with inflated pageviews. Yesterday and today don't seem to be "normal," so it doesn't seem that this problem is over for me.

I wrote support a day or two ago reminding them that my ticket had been open for over a month with no formal response.

I also stated that I had read threads (WW) where others had reported they were experiencing the same problem, which meant to me that this had nothing to do with my sites and was a problem with Adsense and they should acknowledge it as such.

The reply was:
>>I apologize if I was unclear, but this is indeed a bug.<<

I also asked if they were going to be able filter out all of the phantom pageviews (historically) so my Adsense stats would once again have some value. They simply said that at this point they couldn't give me an answer on that.
8:30 pm on Mar 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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That was short-lived, inflated PVs back together with garbage EPC.
10:15 pm on Mar 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if the folks who serve up ten million page views a day have these problems?
4:15 am on Mar 11, 2016 (gmt 0)

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In so many ways, I don't even care about this problem. Due to changes with Adsense reporting and my implementation of ads, except for "income" reports my stats are pretty much worthless over the long-term anyway.

I will say, the single thing no one here seems to mention is that they feel that their inflated number of pageviews has correlated with a drop in earnings. I'm muddling through what should be my strongest time of the year. I could easily explain away the drop on other factors but Adsense is enough of a black box that I don't trust that this event isn't the cause.
12:31 am on Mar 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I'm REALLY growing tired of shenanigans in my ADSENSE dashboard. I use the allowed sites option and whitelist only 3 sites yet I STILL get top1-seo-service.com spam several times a day and still get massively inflated pageviews regularly.

Questions:
- Since I do not whitelist top1-seo-service.com then why does it stay in my reports all day, every day? Usually one pageview every couple of hours?!? This domain is not authorized and other non-authorized domain junk doesn't show up. I'm even regularly getting notices that I should add the domain to my owned list because I'm potentially losing earnings, seriously... wth?

- I show only 2 ad units on most sites and have them set up carefully so that they report properly in adsense. Doesn't matter. I still see pageviews skyrocket unexpectedly and ALWAYS without proper ad unit tracking. By that I mean I assign each ad to a custom channel and the pageviews come in without a custom channel.

example: I create a domain report and break it down by custom channel and the total pageviews are always larger than the custom channel data combined. Not only that but the same report broken down by ad unit size shows a lot of pageviews for sizes that do not exist on that site. No, it's not a 'fit smaller ad if it pays more' issue. I only have horizontal space and yet even the 160x600 is reported in a div capped at 60 in height.

I understand that someone is using my ad code on a domain out of my control but why does it show up at all if it's not a claimed site? Or worse, it appears as one of my sites? It's seriously messing with all statistics and I've had enough of it.

My site cannot be framed, I block that behavior in htaccess, if that matters.
12:45 am on Mar 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The worst part about fake impressions is that if a site is affected (I noticed some sites have been affected for weeks now), the Clicks count is being reduced to zero (which is impossible otherwise when there are no inflated impressions).

It seems Adsense has a line of code like:

if(INFLATED_PV==TRUE) $clicks=(0 !important); // don't count any clicks and don't pay for real clicks even if they happened

The core issue could be www vs. non-www; maybe the robots that generate these fake impressions are able to somehow create an adsense impression even before the .htaccess redirection rules are triggered.
11:31 am on Mar 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

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It's something to do with "Matched Content".

I am having this problem with only the one site that has been approved however not implemented. These inflated PVs go back to the day this site was approved.

top1-seo-service.com


I thought it may only be me, obviously not, 115 times so far this year.

There is a site I have been looking after for a friend for 10 years, it has nothing to do with my business and it has never, ever had any AdSense code on it, how can that site appear in my stats once a month.

The only association is the same server, period.
8:53 pm on Mar 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

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RedBar, I never played with that Matched Content thing and have many sites facing the inflated pageviews on non www domain issue.
11:24 am on Mar 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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But have all your sites been approved even though you've never played with it?

Most of my sites are small niche widget and don't have enough PVs for Google and none of those are affected.
11:34 am on Mar 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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My first dump of inflated PVs has already happened this morning, I don't remember them being this early in the day!

All on the index page, all the USA.
4:04 pm on Mar 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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...and if you look more deeply they will be of all different sizes and be missing any tracking you have assigned. At least that's what I see. These are not appearing on my domain so why does Google think they are?

I removed my own site from my claimed sites list yesterday and removed it from my allowed list. The ghost impressions are still appearing as if it's an owned site.

I'm pretty sure the top1-seo site entries are happening in the same manner, those are also there again today.
2:13 pm on Mar 15, 2016 (gmt 0)

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No inflated PVs for me yesterday and so far none today.
2:27 pm on Mar 15, 2016 (gmt 0)

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From the Mar. 9th, to today the 15th, I've had clean data. From Jan 26th to March 8th progressively more and more grossly inflated data. Hope Adsense can retroactively repair this data.
It does appear that earnings took a significant hit during the most disruptive data.
2:47 pm on Mar 15, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I don't use Matched content ads.
Only one of my affected sites has been "approved" for that.
I don't think that's related to this issue.

I had long ago "unclaimed" the (non-existant) troublesome non-www form of my domain in the "site management" section of Adsense. Just like others report, that never did anything toward removing the inflated pageview numbers from the Adsense home page totals.

Since this is officially an Adsense-side bug, I asked the person handling my support email if it was OK to re-claim the errant non-www domain (as listed in the "unclaimed" section of the "site management" area). Doing so would get rid of at least one of the perpetual Adsense notifications that constantly show. They replied that it would be OK to do so. So I did.
7:13 pm on Mar 15, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Clean data here too since March 9th. Hope they've got this sorted now.

I don't use Matched Content Ads either.

I did delve into some of the extra pageview stats and noticed something like a 1:2:2, mobile to desktop to tablet ratio - I wondering if they are impressions coming through from some testing Google do on your site prior to making suggestions re ad placement/size?
9:31 am on Mar 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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And they're back - both yesterday and first thing this morning!
12:20 pm on Mar 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Yes back for me too on the 16th. This could be a good random number generator, heads 7 days in a row, finally tails again. 100X normal traffic.
Most of the pages for this site will load with 3 to 5 requests to my server. Turn on one Adsense ad and there's at least 10 more requests to various Adsense servers (So many javascripts!). I don't know what Adsense does to assure these requests to their servers are legitimate. Anyone could generate these requests using copied Adsense ID's. One thought would be to use some javascript to mask and generate these Adsense ID's with code, so the ID wouldn't be obvious on the web page source. Of course there's the Adsense TOS to consider?
Or is this truly just an Adsense internal bug.
3:31 pm on Mar 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Yep, inflated PVs, specifically on one site for me, all purportedly USA and evenly distributed over the three platforms which suggests to me that mobile and tablets are easily the most inflated.
10:43 pm on Mar 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Yep, back for me too now. And on a third site as well, another site with a rewrite in place to go send 'everyone' to the www version.
10:26 am on Apr 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Since Mar. 22nd the impression count might be correct, but the Page View count is still off by a factor of 10, before the 22nd it was off by a factor of 100. Other characteristics the same.
4:54 am on Apr 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Just received a reply from adsense on this matter.

The jist of it, is that the extra pageviews are 'invalid activity attacks, where spammy traffic is being sent to pages'. I would quote the whole thing but I'm not sure I can quote the whole email for some reason? Forum rule?

In conclusion Google are not going to do anything about it as they have detected them as invalid pageviews and handled them as such.
11:53 am on Apr 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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JBNZ

Thanks for the update. Much appreciated.
'invalid activity attacks, where spammy traffic is being sent to pages'

If Google's statement were correct we would be seeing it in our web server logs, but there's no hint. So I think the "invalid activity attacks" must directed at Google's Adsense servers. Also if Google can "detect them as invalid pageviews and handle them" why would they keep them in the reported Adsense stats.

They are clearly being attacked and not handling it, and rightfully don't want the world to know about this weakness in their system, IMHO.

So I guess in Google's opinion we all have to look much harder at our web servers and stats, they seem to be saying this is a webmaster's problem.
In my previous post, it appears they have done something already, but they're still off by a factor of 10!
10:06 am on Apr 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

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So it does appear that since Mar. 22nd the "impressions" statistic has been fixed, BUT the "pageview" stat is still all over the place. That's tough to understand.
This Google bug completely disrupts the scaling of most of the Adsense graphs

Has anyone found a scaling control for these auto-scaled graphs?
10:21 am on Apr 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Also seeing page views inflated at the moment - I have been testing DFP so wondered if they are counting DFP pageviews as separate to normal page views when both a DFP slot and a straight Adsense slot appear on the same page.
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