Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thanks, partner

So this happened yesterday:
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 in your AdSense account and it has been disabled.
I've had an AdSense account for quite a few years. It's never made a significant amount of money - in fact, never even enough for them to have to pay me at all, despite the fact that I had to give all sorts of financial guarantees and comply with US tax legislation.

More recently, my son linked the AdSense account to his YouTube video channel. In actual fact, he had set up his own AdSense account, jumping through all the required hoops. Just at the point that he had a video that had had enough views to earn some money, he was told that the account was invalid, as there was another one registered at the same address. Why they hadn't seen fit to point this out when the account was registered is not clear. So he cancelled that account, and linked it to mine.

Joel's videos were more successful at gathering revenue than mine were. A couple in the last month suddenly got a much higher amount of revenue than any previously had, with no warning. Having worked patiently at the account for years, that cheered us up. But it was too good to be true. Out of the blue, this email arrived, and the AdSense/YouTube partnership was suspended.

As far as I can tell, the likelihood is that bots - automatic programmes which crawl over the internet - had "clicked" on adverts, artificially inflating the rate of return. The account was suspended because of the suspicion that we had clicked on the advert links ourselves, or paid someone to do it. That's crazy given our context - I wasn't really interested but had adverts there because I might as well; Joel's long term ambition was to make a living as a YouTuber, so he had scrupulously stuck by the rules (and frequently had to explain them to me) - and beyond that, operated defensively. He lived in fear of getting a "copyright strike" - someone filing a complaint against one of his videos which would lead to YouTube "shooting first" and not bothering to ask questions at all.

The only "encouraging" thing is that other, much bigger, AdSense "partners" have had exactly the same experience - in some cases, losing revenue streams of thousands of dollars on a whim. An appeal process exists - you're invited to explain yourself in 3000 characters, but you aren't told the grounds for your suspension, and if the appeal fails, not only do you have no further recourse, but you are banned from working with AdSense in the future.

So here was my appeal:
How do users get to your site? How do you promote your site? *
I assume that the site in question is the YouTube channel (jomightymaniac) rather than the blog (exilefromgroggs.blogspot.com) which has only ever earned pennies. It is promoted through YouTube subscriptions, posting of links on blogs (joelsthought.blogspot.com, jomightymaniac.blogspot.com), and links on social media sites.

I don't know who reads this. Please don't simply bin this account because you think it makes no real difference, and nobody can come back to you about it.

For years my son has wanted to make a living as a YouTuber, and has scrupulously tried to abide by the rules, and accepted that the impersonal YouTube/AdSense machine is actually indifferent to the people that provide the original material they display. Through their untimely actions, they have already cost him money on multiple occasions that, as far as he was concerned, he had earned. There is NOBODY that will talk to him about these either, but even so he has put up with it in pursuit of his dream.
Have you or your site ever violated the AdSense program policies or Terms & Conditions? If so, how? Also, include any relevant information that you believe may have resulted in invalid activity. *
Not consciously. I couldn't say that we have faithfully skipped every ad that started showing, or never clicked on an advert, but there has been no systematic attempt to artificially create ad traffic either. Neither have we watched videos multiple times to drive up traffic.

Google describes its AdSense users as "partners". In fact, it is completely indifferent to them, even though they are providing the original content that makes the internet a suitable medium for advertising. It won't lift a finger to help them and will drop them with any excuse, and apparently without meaningful appeal. This is not "partnership". Why do you have this policy of shooting first and asking questions later? Your "partners" are depending upon you.
Please include any data from your site traffic logs or reports that indicate suspicious IP addresses, referrers, or requests which could explain invalid activity. *
We have no such analysis of either website; we are amateur users, and not that sophisticated. We did notice that two recent videos attracted a surprising amount of revenue, especially given the relatively small number of views they received. In them, my son had been trying a new editing technique, but this should not have generated more revenue. We were surprised by this bulge in revenue, but since it hardly represented a fortune ($25, maybe?) we didn't consider it ridiculous.

I note from an internet search that Google has a record of hitting publishers when the actual issue seems to have been either bots clicking or possibly even malicious users (my son has lived in fear of being hit by a malicious or even incorrect "copyright strike"). Our accounts are not significant either to Google or to their advertisers; in the years that our relationship with AdSense has existed, we have not earned enough to be paid even once.

We await your response with hope, but not optimism.

And here was the response:
Thanks for the additional information provided in your appeal, we appreciate your continued interest in the AdSense program. After thoroughly reviewing your account data and taking your feedback into consideration, our specialists have confirmed that we're unable to reinstate your AdSense account.
So that's that. A "partnership" arrangement that has existed for probably ten years, which has cost Google nothing, deleted without warning, or explanation, or appeal.

2 comments:

mamaluke said...

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.... how frustrating! I too have often wondered what attracts these bots to blog posts. I have unusually high traffic and anonymous comments on a post I did years ago on lemon drizzle cake.... can you re appeal or speak to a human at Google?

Paul Fernandez said...

Apparently not. I tried in my reply to puncture the automatic computer response - but I clearly didn't succeed.