Google Adsense Account Disabled

See Update: Sweet sweet justice. Praise be to Google.

I’m a big fan of Google (always have been) but I’m staring to worry that maybe I’ve given them a little to much trust and power. I have been a beta tester on almost all of their programs. I’ve played with everything in the Google lab, and been an advocate of all their services. But today I was sent a message telling me that my adsense account was disabled. I understand they have to protect the integrity of the system, but after looking into it, I can not figure out what they think I have done wrong. This is what they wrote:

Hello Ben Shoemate,

While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers. Since keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage our advertisers in the future, we’ve decided to disable your account.

Just how significant a risk am I? I decided to find out.

The email has a link to the “Appeal” form – which when you read it, sounds almost like a guilty plea with questions like: “Provide any relevant information that you believe would explain the invalid click activity we detected“.

Invalid click activity? – ok now I’m really curious, lets go look at the logs – I can’t get into Adsense because, you know, Account Disabled. But I have my logs emailed to me daily, yesterdays log was in my email:

Date Channel Page impressions Clicks Earnings
1/28/2008 benshoemate.com 145 0 0
1/28/2008 benshoemate.com 367 0 0
Totals
561
0 0

hmmm….no clicks, no earnings…am I not earning enough? So I added up my full 3 months of activity while I have been in the program, (I have never received any checks from Google so it is less than $100) and low and behold the grand total is $18.20.

Technically, as part of the Google Adsense Terms and Conditions I am not allowed to disclose

… click-through rates or other statistics relating to Site performance in the Program provided to You by Google…

But they already cut me off and frankly I don’t care if they turn it back on are not, I just want to know what happened. I mean – if there are “invalid clicks” wouldn’t those show up in my account?

They also ask for my log files, I thought that was a little creepy but complied….you don’t argue with the judge.

Looking a little deeper into the terms and conditions – google has this nice sentence – (try to read it all with one breath, that’s how you know it’s legalese instead of english):

Prohibited Uses. You shall not, and shall not authorize or encourage any third party to: (i) directly or indirectly generate queries, Referral Events, or impressions of or clicks on any Ad, Link, Search Result, or Referral Button through any automated, deceptive, fraudulent or other invalid means, including but not limited to through repeated manual clicks, the use of robots or other automated query tools and/or computer generated search requests, and/or the unauthorized use of other search engine optimization services and/or software;

good so far

(ii) edit, modify, filter or change the order of the information contained in any Ad, Link, Ad Unit, Search Result, or Referral Button, or remove, obscure or minimize any Ad, Link, Ad Unit, Search Result, or Referral Button in any way;

never done any of that but I did make my own search button…

but that is not listed as a no-no…hmm….lets keep reading.

(iii) frame, minimize, remove or otherwise inhibit the full and complete display of any Web page accessed by an end user after clicking on any part of an Ad (“Advertiser Page”), any Search Results Page, or any Referral Page;

I agree, I hate that stuff too and would never do that…

(iv) redirect an end user away from any Advertiser Page, Search Results Page, or Referral Page; provide a version of the Advertiser Page, Search Results Page, or Referral Page that is different from the page an end user would access by going directly to the Advertiser Page, Search Results Page, or Referral Page; intersperse any content between the Ad and the Advertiser Page, between the page containing the Search Box and the Search Results Page, or between the Referral Button and the Referral Page; or otherwise provide anything other than a direct link from an Ad to an Advertiser Page, from the page containing the Search Box to the Search Results Page, or from the Referral Button to the Referral Page;

…never done any of that….

(v) display any Ad(s), Link(s), or Referral Button(s) on any error page, on any registration or “thank you” page (e.g., a page that thanks a user after he/she has registered with the applicable Web site), on any chat page, in any email, or on any Web page or any Web site that contains any pornographic, hate-related, violent, or illegal content;

Is my star wars post too violent? I do have unnatural feelings of malice and hate toward the writers of the dialog in the prequels. Did google’s omniscient spider turn me in? Maybe it was the reference to Herman Goering (Hitler’s right hand man). If so, this is starting to sound very unfair and un-google-like. But they specifically mentioned “invalid clicks” on the appeal form (the email said only “significant risk” but I bet they have a different appeal form for all the haters out there. Let’s keep going…

(vi) directly or indirectly access, launch, and/or activate Ads, Links, Search Results, or Referral Buttons through or from, or otherwise incorporate the Ads, Links, Search Results, or Referral Buttons in, any software application, Web site, or other means other than Your Site(s), and then only to the extent expressly permitted by this Agreement (e.g., while Search Results may be indirectly accessed from Your Site(s), they may only be displayed on the appropriate Google-hosted Web page); (vii) “crawl”, “spider”, index or in any non-transitory manner store or cache information obtained from any Ads, Links, Search Results, or Referral Events, or any part, copy, or derivative thereto;

no, I haven’t done any of this either …

(viii) act in any way that violates any Program Policies posted on the Google Web Site, as may be revised from time to time, or any other agreement between You and Google (including without limitation the Google AdWords program terms), or engage in any action or practice that reflects poorly on Google or otherwise disparages or devalues Google’s reputation or goodwill. You acknowledge that any attempted participation or violation of any of the foregoing is a material breach of this Agreement and that we may pursue any and all applicable legal and equitable remedies against You, including an immediate suspension of Your account or termination of this Agreement, and the pursuit of all available civil or criminal remedies.

Well, I haven’t done any disparaging of google…yet, let’s see how they handle my appeal first.

As far as I know, I have been a perfect Google adsense user and an outstanding and upright citizen of the web. I never clicked my own ads, I never encourage others to click them and I never edited their javascript code. Unless some WordPress plug in is interfering with it that I didn’t notice (and I hate to admit it but I have not examined exactly what these plugins actually do – I kind of take some of them on faith and hope someone else in the community finds the flaw), or maybe someone on my network (thus with my IP) clicked ads (my wife? neighbor on my wi-fi?), but if so, when? I haven’t had any clicks. And as OJ’s lawyer once said – If the clicks don’t fit, you must acquit…or…something like that. Anyway, I do not understand what happened.

So now what? Now I give them 48 hours to review my appeal, and then I try out Amazon’s ad service. I like the idea of advertising books on my site better anyway. Those ads where mostly garbage (oops – hope that wasn’t too disparaging).

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