ACME Updates

30jan2012 Goodbye AdSense

I have been using Google's AdSense web advertising system since it opened to the public, eight and a half years ago. Aside from one quickly-resolved incident eight years ago, Google and I have been very happy with each other and have made a lot of money for each other.

Two weeks ago I got a form letter from AdSense telling me that my account had been disabled. The letter explained how I could file an appeal, so I did. This morning I got their response to my appeal: denied. That would seem to be the end of my relationship with AdSense.

Other folks dealing with AdSense might be interested in the details, so I'll post them below. But there's really not much, the form letters are nearly devoid of information. This is intentional - the first item in AdSense's Disabled Account FAQ says:

Q. Why was my account disabled? Can you tell me more about the invalid click activity you detected?
A. Because we have a need to protect our proprietary detection system, we're unable to provide our publishers with any information about their account activity, including any web pages, users, or third-party services that might have been involved.

Wikipedia's page on AdSense includes a section of criticism with this paragraph:

According to critics, AdSense is one of the worst publisher programs who really don't care about its publishers. Many cases were reported about the accounts being disabled once a publisher reaches the minimum payout amount of $100. Publishers will only get an automated email which says that their site is a threat to the advertisers and other publishers. The email contains a link to the help forum which is unlikely to get the account reinstated, even if their account was disabled in error. About 99% of affected publishers say that their account has not been reinstated, and they believe that the termination was done in error.
I don't agree with the rest of the criticism but this part would appear to be both correct and alarming.

Here's the relevant part of the initial form letter:

Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2012 18:43:23 -0000
From: "Google AdSense" <adsense-adclicks-noreply@google.com>
Subject: Google AdSense Account Disabled


After reviewing our records, we've determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity. Because we have a responsibility to protect our AdWords advertisers from inflated costs due to invalid activity, we've found it necessary to disable your AdSense account. Your outstanding balance and Google's share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers.

Here's my appeal, with my responses in italics:

Jeffrey Poskanzer

Company's name (If applicable):
ACME Laboratories

Example URLs where you've placed your ads:
http://acme.com/ http://acme.com/software/ http://mapper.acme.com/

Date your account was disabled:
15 January 2012

Have you appealed the disabling of this account in the past?

Do you have any other active AdSense accounts?

Who are the intended users of your site?
software developers, map users, photographers

From what parts of the world do your users view your site?

How are your users accessing the web? (e.g. Internet cafes, home DSL lines, mobile devices, university / office intranets)
no idea

Does your site content include content copied from other sites on the web (not including RSS feeds)?

What is the source of your site's content?

How many people are involved with the administration of the site?
just me

How often do you update your site?

Have you ever purchased traffic to your site(s)?

Have you ever signed up for services that give users incentives to visit your site/ads? (e.g. auto-surf, pay-to-read, pay-to-click)

How do users get to your site? How do you promote your site?
My site is very well known, with links all over the net.

Why do you believe the traffic to your Google ads is valuable to advertisers?
I provide excellent and highly-respected services andsoftware.

Would visitors to your site have any reason to increase your AdSense earnings? If so, why?

Have you or your site ever violated the AdSense program policies or Terms & Conditions? If so, how?
In 2003 and 2004 there were a couple of incidents where ads on one of my software projects' pages were considered borderline invalid, because of how users were getting to those pages. We resolved the situation by removing the ads from just those pages. In the eight years since then the Google-ACME relationship has been very happy.

Any relevant information that you believe may explain the invalid click activity we detected:
I have no idea why your detector triggered.

Any data in your site traffic logs or reports that indicate suspicious IP addresses, referrers, or requests:
I took a look and saw nothing unusual. If you give me some hint of what to look for, maybe I could be more helpful.

Here's their acknowledgement of my appeal:

Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2012 19:40:52 -0000
From: "Google AdSense" <adsense-adclicks@google.com>
Subject: Re: [#946896951] Invalid Activity Appeal


This message confirms that we've received your appeal submission.

We'll get to your appeal as soon as we can, though due to the high volume of emails we receive, it may take us up to a week or more to process it. If you've previously submitted an appeal for this account, you might not receive a response to this or future appeals.

Also, please be aware that appealing the disabling of your AdSense account does not guarantee that it will be reinstated.

And here's today's response to my appeal:

Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2012 11:19:47 -0000
From: "Google AdSense" <adsense-adclicks@google.com>
Subject: Re: [#946896951] Invalid Activity Appeal


Thank you for your appeal. We appreciate the additional information you've provided, as well as your continued interest in the AdSense program. However, after thoroughly re-reviewing your account data and taking your feedback into consideration, our specialists have confirmed that we're unable to reinstate your AdSense account.

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