Google AdSense—a scam?

Today, I received this message from Google:

Hello Lee,

It has come to our attention that invalid clicks have been generated on the ads on your web pages. We have therefore disabled your Google AdSense account. Please understand that this step was taken in an effort to protect the interest of the AdWords advertisers.

A publisher's site may not have invalid clicks on any ad(s), including but not limited to clicks generated by a publisher on his own web pages, clicks generated through the use of robots, automated clicking tools, or any other deceptive software.

Practices such as these are in violation of the Google AdSense Terms and Conditions and program polices, which can be viewed at:


The Google Team

Like I have any control over how visitors click on my ads? Like I even have that much traffic, or even make much money off of them: I never got paid monthly - and Google only pays monthly if your take exceeds $100 per. I don't know how to program automatic clicking robots or whatever else they're accusing me of doing. At any rate, I wrote this to the "AdSense Team:"

You sent the message quoted below [quoted from the message above], but did not tell me what, exactly, happened. I have never violated any of the terms, etc. and if a visitor to my site has done something such as repeated clicks, how can I prevent this? This suspension is extremely unfair especially as you provide no way to appeal it or dispute it or even figure out what is going on. Please let me know what is going on and how my account can be restored -- especially since your ads are still showing up on my websites even after disabling my account--this is not right.

They sent this non-reply:

Hello Lee,

By disabling your account, we feel that we have taken the necessary measures to ensure that invalid clicks will not continue to occur on your site.

We understand that you wish to receive specific information regarding the invalid clicks we have observed. Due to the proprietary nature of our monitoring system, we cannot disclose any specific details of these clicks. We would like to reassure you, however, that we have thoroughly re-reviewed your account data upon receipt of your response and have reconfirmed that invalid clicks were generated on the ads on your site. According to our policy on this matter, we have disabled your account in order to protect our advertisers.

With regards to your question about the ads still serving on your site, there may be a delay of up to 48 hours before all of our servers are informed of the change.

As outlined in our program Terms and Conditions, Google reserves the right to terminate any publisher's participation at any time.


The Google Team

Hmm, so ordinary rules of business don't apply, huh? I sent this reply:

You did not answer my question. You gave a generalized statement about invalid clicks, but never made a specific charge. I'm not asking you to reveal who or from what ISP the invalid clicks came, only to tell me what,
in this instance, actually happened. You disabled my account, yet you continue to serve ads on my sites, without telling me how I'm going to be compensated for displaying your ads on space I own. Nor have you told me whether or not you are going to compensate me for the clicks that were valid -- I am assuming most, and probably all but one, of them were. You also have not told me how I can appeal this decision -- what is my recourse? You also have not told me what I can do about visitors to my site who, for example, may click the same ad more than once -- how can I control this? Don't you have controls in place to handle this -- even my ten-year-old weblog program has controls not to double-count the same visitor ... Am I to assume that businesses should NOT advertise on Google because Google lacks the controls to protect advertisers against fraud? I certainly will let my clients know if this is the case, and that they should either cease advertising on Google or greatly limit their Google AdWords campaigns.

When will I get paid for the January and February clicks?

I'm assuming that Google will screw me over for the bucks they owe me for running all those ads.

If Google can't protect its advertisers from fraudulent clicks, why the hell would anybody run campaigns on the AdSense network? What a waste of money.

What really bothers me about this is that Google has zero accountability. That's not even ethical. And you know, I bet they don't give the advertisers their money back for these allegedly fraudulent clicks. Advertisers are probably told Google can't release their proprietary secret algorithms etc. so "ya gotta pay what we say ya gotta pay." When I ran an AdWords campaign, their click claims never even came close to what my log files were showing me (like they claimed 25 clicks and my log files show only 5 or 6 visitors -- something is just not right!), so I became convinced that the program was laced with too much bullshit non-accountability to waste any more money on.

I wonder how long it will take until Google screws over a critical mass of micro publishers who retaliate by sabotaging the AdSense program. I'm not advocating this, mind you, but I bet it won't take long before this starts happening.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/18/04 at 09:17 PM
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