Oh, Google Adsense. Just about every blogger relies on you (to a certain degree) for online income, yet you reveal nothing about exactly how you work, how you decide how much we get paid, and which advertisements get served up on our blogs. Like this post. I can only guess that the ads that’ll show up in this post will have something to do with making money online or perhaps freelance writing, but there’s very little control on the side of the publisher in determining how Adsense toys with us.
The same can be said about how they manage our accounts. We’ve heard all sorts of horror stories from people who have been banned from Adsense for “invalid clicks and/or page impressions.” Many of these folks are perfectly honest and haven’t been clicking their own ads, yet they’ve been kicked out of the Google yard for something that they have no control over. It sucks, but it happens all the time. What’s worse, they typically don’t receive any sort of warning and no real explanation for why they got banned. All they get is a email with the equivalent of a big fat middle finger in it. Google says they do this to protect their advertisers.
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed an increase in referral traffic from some Dragon Mail website. I thought that it was very strange, considering that the website was in French and had no apparent links to my site. Upon further investigation, I discovered that Dragon Mail is some sort of paid-to-surf program and its members were getting paid for visiting sites (and presumably clicking on ads). This is largely conjecture based on what I remember from my high school French classes. There was clearly no wrongdoing on my part: I’ve stayed pretty conventional in that regard.
A few days later, I received an email from Google, warning that they may ban me from Adsense. This is a gesture that most bloggers do not receive. They’d usually just get banned outright without a warning, so I am thankful to Google for not doing that to me. After asking my readers for some help, I edited my htaccess file to block all traffic coming from that Dragon Mail website. Traffic since then has started to decrease, as have the number of ad clicks. This seems to confirm that Dragon Mail was the culprit that caused my Adsense woes, and I emailed Google to tell them as such.
Their reply was:
I realize that you’d like to know whether your account is now compliant with our policies. However, because we have a need to protect our proprietary detection systems, we’re unable to provide our publishers with details about their account activity, including any webpages, users, or third-party services that may have been involved. Thanks for your understanding.
We do appreciate the efforts you’ve made to keep your account compliant with our policies. As a quick reminder, you can find tips and guidelines for keeping your account in good standing by visiting http://www.google.com/support/adsense/bin/answer.py?answer=23921.
The Google AdSense Team
So, I guess I’m not completely out of their hot water just yet, but at least they acknowledged my email and my efforts to comply with their terms and conditions. Has Google suddenly become a little more customer service-friendly and thus they actually give warnings and replies to your emails? Or am I just lucky to get this kind of treatment? Could it be that they trust a Technorati top 10k blog more than one that just started up? Whatever the case, I’m glad that my Adsense account is still alive and kicking.
I’ll keep you all in the loop if anything new develops. Hopefully I won’t have to go hunting for an Adsense replacement just yet.