While many out there might look at Google as an unstoppable giant and cringe at the thought of their growing empire, I have to say I have mostly held a generally positive (but only slightly above neutral) view of Google. The search engine is my standard. I use Gmail, Analytics, and several other tools they offer for free. Good stuff right? Well, recent events have had me question a few things about Google.
Yes, I know that the people in charge are liberal and probably donate to liberal causes and all that, but you know, they are free to do that. I drink Starbucks Coffee and support the company regardless of the company’s political leanings. I would have a problem however, if Starbucks treated me differently on political grounds. Anytime I go in, I expect the same treatment, service and available products as anyone else who goes in, and expect to pay the same price for given product as anyone else. Any other treatment would be discriminatory. Can we agree on that?
There is, of course the issue of search neutrality. I’ll direct you to a blog post by Melissa Clouthier, I have another angle to approach.
A few weeks ago, my co-blogger here, Mark Noonan, told me that his personal site Noonan for Nevada was unexpectedly dropped from Google’s Adsense program. This, if you do not know is a program that allow blog publishers like us to put contextual ads on our blogs in the hopes that we can generate some revenue.We don’t expect a huge amount of money out of it… Enough to cover the cost of hosting would satisfy me. Anyway, I wasn’t sure what to tell him. He never violated their terms of service… what explanation was there. I had no idea.
Well, a mere two days later, I found that my Google Adsense account was also suspended. Herre’s the email I received:
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.
The Google AdSense Team
It is worth noting that while you can “appeal” the decision, Google maintain some secrecy on their methods of determining questionable activity. From the link they provided is the following information:
Because we have a need to protect our proprietary detection system, we’re unable to provide our publishers with any information about their account activity, including any web pages, users, or third-party services that may have been involved.
As you may know, Google treats invalid click activity very seriously, analyzing all clicks and impressions to determine whether they fit a pattern of use that may artificially drive up an advertiser’s costs or a publisher’s earnings. If we determine that an AdSense account may pose a risk to our AdWords advertisers, we may disable that account to protect our advertisers’ interests.
Lastly, please note that as outlined in our Terms and Conditions, Google will use its sole discretion when determining instances of invalid click activity.
I appealed the decision. About three hours later I got a response that my appeal was denied.
Well, that means I am down with Google Adsense. Yet, I have no idea what caused the problem, and thus no ability to determine the cause.
While I am sure that this happens regularly with sites all the time, the fact that Mark and I each got booted in a matter of days suggests to me that that our being booted off of Google’s Adsense program was not random. This can mean a few things, including someone who goes on both NoonanForNevada.com and BlogsForVictory.com deliberated created the appearance of invalid click activity, or Google is systematically dropping conservative sites from its Adsense program.
Prior to being dropped from the Adsense program, I did receive a check (for a sum larger than $100) … Shortly after the check was deposited my bank sent it back, the money was taken out of my account, and a small fee charged to my from my bank. Great huh? Payment for a period prior to the alleged invalid activity was cancelled, despite my inability to get any information to explain the problems that lead to my removal from the program.
I would like to get back on the Google Adsense progam, but unfortunately I have no recourse at this point. I made one and only allowed appeal. All I can do is write about the situation, and maybe a pattern of this behavior from Google will surface, and we can get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, based on the circumstances surrounding this situation, the simplest conclusion to make is that there is some anti-conservative bias at Google.