WTF? Google Banning AdSense Publishers for “Potential” Fake Clicks!

Now, this is a reverse from the innocent until proven guilty route. Google is banning AdSense publishers not because they’ve generated fake clicks, but because they have a risk of doing so!

In the past week, I’ve heard quite a few stories of AdSense accounts getting banned not because of any TOS violation or fraudulent activities. They’re getting banned simply because Google thinks the publisher’s site has the potential to generate fraudulent clicks.

My friend Zac Johnson, who has been an AdSense publisher since Google started it was banned from Google AdSense today. Here’s the email Zac got.

This message was sent from a notification-only email address that does not accept incoming email. Please do not reply to this message.
——————————

Hello,

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.

Please understand that we need to take such steps to maintain the effectiveness of Google’s advertising system, particularly the advertiser-publisher relationship. We understand the inconvenience that this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions or concerns about the actions we’ve taken, how you can appeal this decision, or invalid activity in general, you can find more information by visiting http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

To say Zac was surprised by the email was an understatement. He’s been a publisher since AdSense started back in 2003. He’s never had any fraudulent activities on his account, Google had sent him yearly Christmas gifts for being a great AdSense partner, and now Google has disabled his account not because he’s done anything wrong, but because there is a risk that he might do something wrong!

This isn’t even a case of guilty until proven innocent. Once Google decides you’re guilty, they don’t give you a chance to prove you’re innocent because contacting them is next to impossible, as Zac found out.

Trying to contact Google is definitely one of the areas they aren’t too interesting in improving. Instead of providing support, they will send you in an endless loop of forum posts which pretty much end up no where. If you are lucky enough to finally come across their Invalid Activity Appeal form, you can try your luck again, but they basically sent me the same denial email again. But then again, it’s all from “The Google Adsense Team” and just tells you to get lost in the forums again so I expected nothing less.

Live By The Google, Die By The Google

I have long said that if you live by the Google, you die by the Google. It’s a good thing Zac follows this same mantra. Both Zac and I have diversified our online income well beyond Google AdSense. While Zac will lose a few grand due to Google disabling his AdSense account, it won’t affect his lifestyle that much.

However, for most bloggers, the majority of their income will come from Google. This is a very dangerous position to be in. If Google can ban an account that has made hundreds of thousands of dollars for the possibility of fake clicks, they won’t even blink at banning a small account.

My advice

  1. Build your blog traffic with quality content
  2. Capture the emails of the blog readers
  3. Sell your own products (or affiliate products) to the list

Build a business around the above model, and I guarantee you’ll make way more money than what Google AdSense can ever make. It takes a lot more work but the payoff will be a lot higher, and you won’t have to worry about Google killing off your AdSense account because you might “pose a risk of generating invalid activity.”

*Update My friend Gauher Chaudhry, an AdSense publisher for over eight years, just got his AdSense account banned for the same reason as Zac.


60 thoughts on “WTF? Google Banning AdSense Publishers for “Potential” Fake Clicks!”

  1. Ok says:

    An AdSense publisher for 15 years, eh? One year before Google even became a company.

    1. John Chow says:

      Zac has been a Google users 15 years. He has been on AdSense publisher since it started. I have corrected the article. Thank you.

  2. SimonGould says:

    He can’t have been an adsense publisher for 15 years, it’s only been going for 9 years!

  3. FadiAndraus says:

    Thanks for the heads up, I guess I should start looking for a backup plan

  4. IamNTB says:

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if everyone stopped putting adsense ads on their sites for a week (adsense blackout). Maybe it would get the big guy’s attention by how much advertising revenue they would lose and pay more attention to the people they are banning for no legitimate reason.

    1. [email protected] think it would never happen man…. 

  5. Thanks for the great article John. I couldn’t agree more about your business model in selling yours or affiliate products. Google does as and what they want and I feel for Zac. I can imagine how annoyed he must be. I think with news of this more and more people will start limiting their google adsense, hopefully to the extent that google starts to feel it. Keep up the good work.

  6. WongJiaJun says:

    My adsense yet to reach USD100 so that I can cash out, but consider that Google likes to make tremendous change on their Adsense, I wonder should I continue to build ads around Adsense or go for other CPC/PPC/CPM Advertisers. 

  7. bladysh says:

    Wow, that is crazy that google has a reputation for such online activity even though they do offer some great products to make money with and a great search engine. Try http://www.designthislife.com for alternate business models.

  8. bladysh says:

    Wow, that is crazy google has a reputation for this, and that they are so hard to reply to you contacting them. But I guess its the roll they have to play being such a large company. There goes AdSense. See http://www.designthislife.com for a different type of business model

  9. KeithOng says:

    I hate adsense too. I got mine banned few months back due to unknown reasons. One lesson I learned of this program is not to make too much money otherwise it will raise their eyebrows.

    1. [email protected] you serious 🙂 that is so funny and true

  10. KeithOng says:

    1 more thing I wish to add is that the adsense servers seem cranky at times and do not feel surprise that you will get something like 1 page view but 3 clicks which gives you 300% CTR.
     
    300% CTR??? Sounds crazy right? But to them, you are probably faking clicks. To you, you are just following through.

  11. bkerensa says:

    Google AdSense is a joke and their handling of closed accounts is unprofessional.

  12. henrikblunck says:

    It has always been a good principle never to put all eggs into one basket – and your experiences are testament to the validity of that principle.
    I guess the only way the Google team is going to change their difficult way of getting in touch with them is when a sufficient number of bloggers ban them altogether – but then they will probably just take the stand that it’s everybody else’s fault, never theirs.
    After all, it seems like everyone just moves by the “same procedure as last year” recipe, and never really move beyong the Adsense craze. I enjoy my Adsense income, but I have long ago switched to banner ads on blogs where Adsense wasn’t paying enough.
    Thanks for a good blog. 🙂

  13. Justin Mazza says:

    I remember reading that adsense won’t count a click if someone doesn’t stay on the advertisers site long enough or perform some type of “opt in.” 
     
     

  14. what happened to google…. thanks for reminding it.. affiliate is much better in generating income… i hope it dont happen to me

  15. Demt says:

    Recently, my page view on adsense dashboard is much lower than on the google analytic. Google has too much problems. I think that AFF or put a banner of some company will be the best way to make money online

  16. Halim3050 says:

    Google sets the rules in opposition. It’s the goof of all time. Look but don’t touch.
    Touch, but don’t taste. Taste, don’t swallow. Ahaha.
    And while we’re jumpin’ from one foot to the next, what is he doing?
    He’s laughin’ His sick, F***in’ A** off! He’s a tight-A**! He’s a SADIST! Work 4 that? NEVER! :|:

    1. [email protected] The Devil’s Advocate – LOL. You’re right, I have a blog that’s starting off with adsense, but I’m planning to put private advertising on it. It’s pretty obvious that Google can no longer be trusted to DO NO EVIL.

  17. KennyFabre says:

    John
     
    this is not good I’m just starting to generate good income with google adsense I hope they dont do that to my account, but check this out I think they banned him probably because he is very popular and gets alot of traffic, and my blog gets alot of traffic as well so lets wait and see
     
    Kenny Fabre 
    http://www.kfm24.com

  18. Trent says:

    We got banned from Adsense for some other BS reason, and when we appealed the ruling, we were told to go pound sand.
     
    It’s unfortunate, because Adsense did really well in our niche, and we haven’t been able to find another source that has performed as well.  🙁

    1. Enzo Testa says:

      That’s just it though…they know they are king and untouchable, so google can do whatever they want. Who’s the stop them?

  19. fas says:

    Selling products and private ads should be undertaken.

  20. combson says:

    Zac Johnson’s affiliate book and John Chow’s blogger book was among the first I’ve ever ready about Internet Marketing. I now regularly follow your blogs (John and Zac) and I must say I was so surprised to see read about the ban of his account… Honest people getting banned for no reason (Google is becoming too powerful and too evil..)

  21. Yorke LeCroy says:

    Hi John, I got the same email just 8 days ago. Had started a new blog  and started making money on it and bang, closed my adsense act. I already had back ups set up to take Googles place. Just said goodby.

  22. Abhik says:

    Yeah!! WTF is going on?
    I hope Zac and Gauher will get their account back. It’s just not cool to ban valid publishers.

  23. Kashif says:

    Its stupidity to make Adsense your primary source of income. Its true that they can ban you account at any time without stating any specific reason and therefore one should not be surprised by receiving such email.

  24. Google is slowly, but surely to Tie a knot on themselves. As emperor of the search market today, also was Cesar 2000 years ago, they will fall on his own ego.

  25. I was reading the same thing at the Warrior Forum yesterday. That’s ridiculous!

  26. Yeah I read his blog post earlier today and that was shocked that he got banned. It made no sense while other bloggers that create thousands of niche sites google accounts are still active

  27. Enzo Testa says:

    It’s getting a little Ridiculous you might say. I know that google will ban many sites if new or when you reach your first payout but for “potential” fake click?.  
     

  28. Vance Sova says:

    Hey John,
     
    This is so unfortunate. There are strange things going on and the system is acting without any proof of wrong doing. Even if there were invalid clicks with which the publisher has nothing to do the publisher shouldn’t be blamed 100% and deactivated without a real appeal process. There is no genuine appeal process now. 
     
    I honestly used to think that these things happen only to stupid people who are trying to cheat the system. Unfortunately, I now know that it can happen to anybody, even to 100% honest people. If God had an AdSense account It might even happen to Him as well.
     
    Instead of making a cheat and a thief out of everybody, Google should provide an undeniable proof of wrong doing to those they now just dismiss at will for no just reason. I even heard a view that they have a quota of a certain number of publishers they have to deactivate per day. That might be a bit far fetched but on the other hand they can deactivate anyone for no reason as their terms and conditions state.
     
    What happened to their motto “Do no evil”?
     
    I do hope that Google will wake up and changes the way they treat people. 

  29. mattjohncanty says:

    We need a real competitor to challenge Google Adsense. Right now they are a monopoly and do what they want without a care in the world. I was also banned for whatever stupid reason and have now had to try other advertisements like Chitika which totally sucks. I have been seeing this happen to more and more people over the last few months and feel for those hit worse than me. I have also read about Facebook bringing out some form of competitor cannot wait for this…. does anyone know more about that?

  30. Robscottage says:

    I feel for Zac and anyone who has lost to Google. The frustrating part is trying to appeal or talk to anyone there regarding their decision. I have had experience with them dropping some of my blogs, calling them spam blogs. I followed their appeal process and never heard back one way or another. I think Google and Adsense have a little too much of a monopoly and nothing will change until that ends, if it ever does.

  31. iroyan says:

    Its the rate of conversation for the advertiser that factors greatly for those google adsense accounts that have higher than average click throughs per page visit.
    Google will argue like Mark Zuckerberg – what’s the point paying out $10,000.00 per month to a Publisher while the aggregate earnings of  all advertisers is $2000.00 (this is just an example) ???
    Here the publisher is earning far more than the average advertiser and that doesn’t look good in Google’s book.
     
    I used to earn a decent income from Google Adsense until all this adsense fliiping, google whore and MFA sites came on the scene – so somewhere after AD 2006 I stop placing that much emphasis on Google adense as the the click thorugh from generic traffic was only around 1% or less therefore I would be inclined to employ various blackhat tactics like dressing  a searchbar window to redirect to the google custom search window, placing google adsense in applications and toolbars, or splitting static pages to show two or more niches that display Google adsense etc, etc. etc.
     
    Chances are John Chow – my tutor and demigod of intrnet marketing – is running ahead of himself as Google always have good reason mainly from publishers being reported by advertisers and visitors to do what they do with extreme prejudice.
     
    Zac Johnson should just grab a mop, wipe his tears from off the floor and be on his merry way and forget about Google Adsense because Google Adsense has aready forgotten about you. There too many modern ways to make money online and Google was as good as it gets way back in AD 2007.
     
    Man up Zac Johnson, take your punches to the chin and hope you are still standing at the end of the round. You got the tools and courage to fight on.
     

  32. SimonHaestoe says:

    Agree with the advice given, and  would like to add: do as much as you can outside of google. Seems like a good idea.

  33. The fact they banned Zac and Gauher, two well known IM, I can only suspect they were going after people who buy traffic.

    1. [email protected] Business Web Hosting But “buying traffic” and “buying clicks” are two totally different things.

  34. aneesha says:

    yes you give a good advise to me because my account also banned by google adsense please say which ad network is good for my blog (i have use many download links in my blog) so which type of ad network is good for my site.
     
     

  35. Datadiary says:

    Totally in favour

  36. dee says:

    My account was also getting banned several days ago for the same reason. If Conversion do affect, Shall we place the ads at the most Inconspicuous area of our sites?

  37. Jacko says:

    just another reminder to stop selling other people’s stuff.  You can make more money anyway selling quality products and make a nice affiliate commission.  
     
    Yo John, maybe a follow up on your favorite affiliate opportunities since google is full of used dog food.

  38. Shaun Carter says:

    Minority Report!!!!

  39. Mitch Wilson says:

    I was banned from adsense for this very reason about 2 years ago, they kept about $2,500 they owed me as well. Meanwhile I ended up signing deals with large agencies so it all ended up good but I never saw that money nor could I get a reasonable explanation, especially since nothing in my google analytics showed they should have any reason to worry about such a crazy idea. Of course when I was starting out and my adsense earnings were like

  40. Mitch Wilson says:

    Not enough to get a check they had no problem. Not with going toe to toe with google over.

  41. Jason Powell says:

    They screwed me over and there is no way of contacting them. I will never open an adsense or adwords account again.

  42. Sagar Rai says:

    This is too bad

  43. Hani Abdel Halim says:

    Google sets the rules in opposition. It’s the goof of all time. Look but don’t touch.

    Touch, but don’t taste. Taste, don’t swallow. Ahaha.

    And while we’re jumpin’ from one foot to the next, what is he doing?

    He’s laughin’ His sick, F***in’ A** off! He’s a tight-A**! He’s a SADIST! Work 4 that? NEVER! 😀

  44. Americas News Now says:

    Big company sneezes and everyone else catches a cold…

  45. Mitch Wilson says:

    I think Google reads what John Chow has to say because I commented on this yesterday and today I get an email that they want to set up a time to talk. Maybe another good thing comes from this..at least I have a phone number for Google 🙂

  46. WHOISBID1 says:

    Yes. There are millions of people being banned. Google is simply making a lot of enemies because innocent people do not like to have fingers pointed at them. BAD MOVE for google because they are losing popularity in more ways than one.

  47. simplystacienet says:

    The same thing happened to me in September. They took $160 from my account and denied my appeal with their stupid canned reply. I warn all my fellow bloggers to use Adsense at their own risk.

  48. SlapDashMom says:

    Happened to me too. Google = THIEVES.
     

  49. That’s really messed up man. I have been on Google Adsense for some time now and got a few checks from them as well. When I checked my email one morning getting an email from Google that my account was disabled, I was quite shocked at this.

    Google is being a bitch, that’s all I can say.

  50. Chris says:

    I just had my account closed yesterday. I was clearing 20k-35k monthly without issues and done everything by the books as this was one source of revenue I took care of not wanting to stop, then boom, disabled account. I checked through logs and everything seemed fine….. pain in the ass!

  51. Joe says:

    OK guys so John — what are some alternatives??
    I was about to put advertising on my blog for the first time now I’m getting some traffic but this has put me off understandably lol

    There must be many many others thinking the same thing, so alternatives to google adsense please?

  52. nick says:

    i have set my google adsense & analytic account to rest a week ago. i learned that i want no affiliation with google whatsoever.

  53. I’ve had an adsense account for over 5 years – and May 1st – was banned with no warning or explanation. I’ve never had luck with affiliate ads so this has been quite a blow. I’m looking for other options and changing my direction. It sucks.

  54. Ohh… sad about it. Why Google Adsense banning its publishers like this. Someday they will have not any publisher, if they do like this. Very bad. I think Google is banning only when we do something wrong.

    Thanks for this information. I didn’t thought much about any other income source other than Google Adsense. Anyway I need to thank you again for showing the correct path and mentioning it. Now I will try to create my own products.

    I started my blog in march 21st. So my blog is still new one. I was a reader of your blog since middle of the 2011.

    Thank You!
    Shyam
    Shy

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