There’s a program run by Google that allows publishers in the Google Network of content sites to serve automatic text, image, video, and rich media adverts that are targeted to site content and audience. The program earns publishers some income, but is also generally popular for the improved (professional, you may say) look the ads add to the publishers’ websites.
That program is called Google AdSense.
And I have used the program since 2007 when I run my first website as a university student. I had read a lot of literature about to pros and cons of Google AdSense, and heard real-life stories of people making a living off the program. At the time, all ads used to carry the text “Ads by Google” in the corner, either at the top or bottom; and that’s how I got to know about it.
My first AdSense account wasn’t really successful as my sites didn’t have that much traffic. When we started PC Tech in 2010, I attempted to make better use of my existing account and deployed ads on the site.
As an AdSense publisher in 2013, I received an email one Sunday evening that I had read about on various blogs; and actually received before. Here’s some text from the email:
“With our advertising programs, we strive to create an online ecosystem that benefits publishers, advertisers and users. For this reason, we sometimes have to take action against accounts that demonstrate behavior toward users or advertisers that may negatively impact how the ecosystem is perceived. In your case, we have detected invalid activity on your site and your account has been disabled.”
I was disappointed. But I had actually been expecting it. I’ll get to that later.
“We’re limited in the amount of information we can provide about your specific violation. We understand this can be frustrating for you, but we’ve taken these precautionary measures because intentional violators can use this information to circumvent our detection systems,” continued the email.
I was 100% that neither myself nor my staff had clicked or led to invalid clicks – on the ads. So why was I expecting Google to take action on my account?
A few weeks prior, I noticed my account was making significantly more revenue than usual. So I carefully studied the performance of the ads on my sites. Because I use the ads the more than five sites I own, I needed to understand which channels exactly were generating which revenue.
One Saturday, my Page CTR (Click-Through-Rate) grew from an average of 2-5% to 14%. It was a notably significant change. I was convinced some “hater” is trying to get me out of business.
I stumbled upon this Google Support document that tries to explain how you can prevent invalid activity. And the only useful information I found was this form that I could utilize to report “suspicious” activity.
So I filled the form, and was told they would “monitor my account” but would “not necessarily get back to me” unless they observed a “significant” issue with my account.
Over the coming days my Page CTR did fall a little, but settled at an average of 7%, which was still relatively high. That’s when I knew there was soon going to be action against my account.
So when Google finally sent the email that “banned” me from the program, I knew I would certainly have my account reinstated, not least because I had already pointed out the problem to them. I thought it was a time for Google’s program to be put to test.
“In some cases, publishers can make significant changes to correct the violation and are willing to comply with the AdSense program policies. For this reason, we offer an appeals process as an opportunity to work with you to resolve the issue,” Google continued to explain in the email.
I filled the appeal form, making reference to the complaint I had raised earlier, and exactly 14 days later, I received the following email:
“Thank you for clarifying your situation. We’ve reviewed your circumstances and have reinstated your account, effective immediately. Please note that there will be a delay of up to 48 hours before our servers are informed of the update and ads start running on your website again.”
My Page CTR has since gone back to “normal” – but unfortunately, Google doesn’t disclose, so we’ll never know for sure what was causing the “invalid activity” and how to prevent it in future.Hits:5170