Apr 3 2008

No AdSense for you.  Next!First, a little background. I do not buy trademark names, I do not click on my own ads, I do not encourage anyone else to click on my ads, I do not promote anything illegal or questionable, and I do not do any arbitrage. My sites are mostly informational in nature and generally provide useful information about location specific activities (i.e., geodomains). So I was surprised when I checked my email account and found this:

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.

Please understand that we consider this a necessary step to protect the interests of both our advertisers and our other AdSense publishers. We realize the inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions about your account or the actions we’ve taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information by visiting https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153&hl=en_US.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

What? My account poses “a significant risk” to advertisers? That makes no sense, so I checked my website statistics for all of the sites that contain adsense. Everything looked fine. So, I thought to myself, perhaps some bad traffic is coming my way. The stats showed that there were no traffic spikes and the referrers looked ok. Then I did a search on Google for each of my sites, and I found what I think was the problem.

Someone else was using Google AdWords to advertise my website, using my exact domain name in the advertisement and linking the ad to my site!

Now keep in mind that this is an expired domain that I purchased more than 10 weeks ago, and someone else was paying to advertise my site on Google. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to find out who was doing this. If I clicked on the ad (which I did not do) it would just take me to my site. Was this the former owner who did not realize that they did not own the site anymore, or was this a savvy SEM expert who has figured out that if a competitor uses Google AdSense, you can simply advertise that competitor’s site and they will be banned by Google? That SEM idea is probably a result of overthinking it, but I guess it could happen.

Whatever the reason, I was banned from AdSense, so I decided to do a bit of research. According to their FAQ, because of my account suspension, the check I received yesterday has a stop payment on it and could not be cashed. There were payments from clicks on my other sites on that check as well, but according to Google, when one site is bad, they all are. Another FAQ says, “Can my account be reinstated” and the answer contained a link to an appeal form. I clicked that link and explained my case, then clicked submit, and then I waited. I did another Google search to see if anyone else has had this problem. Almost every case I read involving an account disablement ended in a permanent ban. There seemed to be few if any cases that were reversed. So then I waited some more. Another day passed, and then I received this email:

Hello,

We’re currently in the process of reviewing your account with the additional information that you’ve provided. Please understand, however, that there is no guarantee that your account will be reinstated into AdSense. As a reminder, Google does reserve the right to disable an account at any time, as stated in the AdSense Terms and Conditions (http://www.google.com/adsense/terms ).

Thank you for your patience.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

At this point, I was not optimistic about my chances. I understand that Google must protect the advertisers, and the advertisers provide them with the majority of their revenue. I thought that they would likely err on the side of caution, and that it was not likely that they would reverse their decision. Then, three hours later, I received this email:

As you know, Google treats instances of invalid click activity very seriously. We have reviewed your circumstances and have reinstated your account, effective immediately. However, there will be a delay before ads start running on your website. It may take up to 48 hours before all of our servers are informed of the change.

We appreciate your patience, and apologize for any inconvenience. If you have any questions, please feel free to respond to this email.

Wow, although it was the right decision, I did not know if they would have time to actually look at the facts and I was prepared to move along without AdSense. In fact, I already applied to the Yahoo Publisher Network and am planning to try Yahoo ads on that site. I wonder if I can finally cash my AdSense check now. 😡

***Update by Ryan***

It is now 4 weeks later and I am still unable to cash this check. The check still has a stop payment on it, so even though I can login to my adsense account and Google ads appear on my sites, this check is no good.

***Update by Ryan***

On April 28 I received a new check from Google that includes the total from the old check as well as additional new earnings. The old check still has the stop payment on it, so if this happens to you, do not try to cash any checks that you are in possession of after your account is disabled. If your account is permanently disabled, the checks are worthless. If your account is reinstated, the checks you have not deposited are still worthless, but they will send you a replacement check next month.

4 Responses

  1. Damir Says:

    If you go to the bank within 48 hours (when the google ads start to re-apear on your site) you should be able to cash the adsense check (by then your asense account should be re-activated).

    Good Luck

    ***Update by Ryan***

    It is 4 weeks later and I am still unable to cash this check. The check still has a stop payment on it, so even though I can login to my adsense account and Google ads appear on my sites, this check is no good.

    ***Update by Ryan***

    On April 28 I received a new check from Google that includes the total from the old check as well as additional new earnings. The old check still has the stop payment on it, so if this happens to you, do not try to cash any checks that you are in possession of after your account is disabled. If your account is permanently disabled, the checks are worthless. If your account is reinstated, the checks you have not deposited are still worthless, but they will send you a replacement check next month.

  2. Marc Says:

    Woo, I’ve never seen someone’s account reinstated, narrow escape that. I too was ‘a significant risk’ to advertisers, even though I’m not. No reinstatement for me after appealing and no Yahoo PN, as I’m British. Keep an eye on your account from time to time, because it would appear Adsense is a very fragile thing.

  3. Ryan Says:

    Damir – thanks for the tip.

    Marc – yep, although I was sure I had done nothing wrong, I did not expect my account to be reinstated. Luckily for me it was, but adsense is a tiny portion of my income.

    Hopefully this will also serve as a warning against becoming too dependent on one source of revenue, whether it is one advertising partner like adsense, one big client, one parking company, etc. because things beyond your control can and will change.

  4. Sammy Ashouri Says:

    Pain in the @$$ but at least you were reinstated ;). Others are not so fortunate, but I’m sure the others actually broke TOS.

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