If you are a publisher, you might be interested in trying to monetize your little sites by using programs such as Google adsense (TM) or the “conceptional ad network” provided by Yahoo/ Bing, served by Media.net. If you are anything like me, you’ll do a fair amount of research before signing up, weigh the goods and the bad’s and then decide to take the plunge. I encourage you to think twice before you do and if you decide to go with it, keep all your records (screenshots/ screen-captures). Not that this would help you in your subsequent fight with Google or Yahoo/ Bing – rest assured there will be complications! – do it just so that you have documentation you can frame and hang in your bathroom, about how the giants of the internet once took you for a ride. What I am about to describe is theft, individually not worthy of consideration, yet on the scale they are doing it, should be hair raising enough for a movie. For simplicity, I will describe my experience with Google Adsense.
Chronology Of A Ripoff
The application procedure for Adsense is not all too tedious, yet rather time consuming. Expect no less than a week or two, often much longer, to get through the first step of approvals with the adsense network. During this time, Google employs several bots to scan and index your content, trying to assure that your content complies with the strict and unbend-able rules of adsense. Small sites and discussion boards that have content and open, uncensored discussions on anything like Guns or violence won’t be approved, hence you will be searching for content that may possibly interfere with Google’s political Anti Gun agenda. If you are approved, you will receive an email, welcoming you to the glorious adsense network. Looks something like this:
Welcome to AdSense!
Your application has been reviewed. Now you need to create your first ad unit and implement the ad code on your site for the full activation of your account. Only blank ads will appear at first until the final approval goes through. Once your site is fully activated, you’ll receive a confirmation email and begin to see live ads. Please sign in to Google AdSense to create your first ad unit and get fully approved by using this guided tour: http://goo.gl/sZIGZ *
You will then receive access to a panel that allows you to design and develop your first ad units, rendering code that you are then supposed to implement on your site(s) for the second stage of approval. During the initial indexing, blank spaced ads are shown, a process that may take anywhere from a day to a couple, maybe three days. Upon this second battery of tests and scans, Google adsense simply starts showing ads on your page(s). You will receive a email alert about that.
Congratulations! Your Google AdSense application has been fully approved. Within a few hours you’ll begin to see live ads. Now you can get more value from your online content by showing relevant and engaging ads with AdSense.
Putz & Glory, there are ads shown within a short period of time! Amazing! The truly amazing thing is that these ads will be terribly well tailored for the content of your site. Don’t be surprised if you get emails and remarks about the new ads from members/ readers of your sites. You won’t be having lots of time to bask in the sun, cuz if you’re worth your salt, you’ll be monitoring what the robots and spiders do on your site, trying to gain access to privileged content. Yes, the monster bear is in the chicken pen, and it is sniffing 24/7 through your content. Don’t be surprised to find the Google Adsense Bot (“Media Partners”) on your page constantly, amongst an armada of other Google bots. That’s fine, you knew that, right? Meanwhile you get to read hundreds of pages of rules and regulations, learning that your publishing account can be closed or disabled for such a large variety of silly reasons, you could not prevent it if you wanted to.
Once the first few days have passed, you will start figuring that several things affect your revenue from those ads. First revelation, people IGNORE them to death. Honestly, who wants to click on any ads? I use ad disabling software, and have spent the last 6 years teaching people how to disable advertising on any page. $0.30 cents a click represents some 58% of what Google charges the poor stupid outfit advertising with them per click! Some ads pay much better, some much worse, so imagine how many dollars some schmuck who can’t be bothered to deal with publishers directly (no scams, no funny click business involved) is spending on this crap with Google. Of course Google charges and pays a kickback to publishers as well on “impressions”. The ads get served 1000 times, and the publisher gets paid again, amongst Google, who takes a little less than half of that revenue.
Order That Ferrari, Cuz Google Will Make Ya Tons Of $$$!
Google adsense or search for it on Youtube and you will instantly learn that many people make significant amounts of money online using these ads. Or at least they say that. True, adsense can make you money, but god help you if things don’t go as planned and you find your account disabled for “invalid click activity”. This was the case for me and my three sites. Recourse is pretty much impossible, unless you type the right number of “keywords” into your “appeal form”. In 3000 words or less, sing the mea culpa, promise to do better and if the right robot reads what you wrote, your account may be reinstated. Except, your revenue is GONE!
Hello, 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.
There you have it, you crook! You did something (and we knew you would, eventually) that offended the gods and here goes the earned revenue balance and access to your adsense account. BANG! For all Google cares, you are now banned from the adsense network, eligible for appeal, but their final decision is their final decision. I am waiting for my judgement at the time of this writing, just to let them know to delete my publisher account. I will die or eat flies before subjecting my readers to scam artists and data mining thief’s, again.
Here’s how the scam works
Google sets a “payment threshold” of $100 on adsense accounts. For many small sites, it can take weeks to reach this threshold. Generally, your first issues arise shortly after signup, when your ads miraculously appear on “other websites”. After you fix that, and reach the Address verification threshold ($10.00) Google will send you a PIN card to your home address. Suddenly your ad revenue will show severe fluctuations and your site may rate negatively on “Site Monetization” if you are like me, running a discussion board, Google is telling you that they would love to sniff and read your privileged content. Crawler errors are bad choo choo, so make sure your ads NEVER show behind a login required page.
You are then supposed to enter this PIN to verify your address, another happy step towards seeing this money, some time in the far future. MEANWHILE, DON’T FORGET TO NEVER CLICK ON YOUR OWN DAMN ADS! (I never did, but it’s said so often, it is now burned into my poor brain, excuse me…) OH, AND NEVER TELL ANYONE TO CLICK ON THESE DAMN ADS, YOU CROOK! WE KNOW YOU WILL, HENCE WE’LL SAY IT OVER AND OVER AND OVER, CAPICHE?
At the end of the month, it adjusts your earnings for what it deems valid and initiates a ~ 1 month hold on your money. During that time you are happily showing ads, getting the occasional 2% CTR (Click Through Rate) on your traffic, making Google wads of petty cash or real money. The real scam is only halfway done, so bend over! No, DEEPER!
The Internet Is Shady
My sites undergo roughly 3-5 unusual events per month. Small, low traffic, low revenue, really small stuff in a niche market within niche market. Seaplane-, Aerobatic- & Soaring flight, all niches within one of the smallest industries in the world: General Aviation. Yet, we will have probably hundreds of fraudulent visits per month, originating Russia, China or India or from behind proxies. The goal: Gain access, gain admin level access, post pornography, junk and backlinks by the use of SPAM Robots. I’ve had everything from DDOS to Website Floodings, all forums go through these phases, and so do I, with mine.
I can prove that we have previously been “Click Bombed” by asking you to look at the banners and outbound counts on this page. Do you notice almost 37,000 outbound redirects (those are hard links) going to one particular site? Yeah… that’s called click bombing. Can I prevent this? Nopety Nope! Imagine 1000 click-robots clicked on all your ads for two days straight. Google knows this. Every other ad serving entity out here knows this, because it happens. It would be easy to fix and it would be easy to fix fairly. Simply discredit the fraudulent traffic, adjust to average daily minimum revenue and try it again. This way, webmasters and publishers have an INCENTIVE to fix the issue, instead of joining the Click-Bomber club. By taking all their honestly earned money (stealing it for a single, isolated, unpreventable offense) Google essentially sides with the bad guys.
Do you want to get lousy, dirty money, defrauding helplessly stupid Adword/ Adsense advertisers of their money, or do you wish to run a honest, straight-forward business website? I know my answer, but only you know yours. I chose NOT to artificially boost my traffic by using any shady domain redirecting service for $14.95 for 5000 additional visits. I chose NOT to buy clicks, I chose NOT to encourage or reimburse my members or readers to click on ANYTHING, unless they find that particular ad interesting, I even discouraged them from clicking by simply not mentioning Adsense on the public side of the forums. I can prove that.
The Big Money Burn & Grab By Google Adsense
Google makes billions of dollars from stupid people, advertising their business in a PPC (Pay Per Click) scam. These advertisers are charged serious money for impressions (integrity of the system = NIL) and clicks (integrity of the system = NIL). Google tells publishers that they have to “refund” advertisers the money paid for invalid clicks, yet they only refund a certain amount of clicks they deemed invalid, while the publisher has their complete account disabled, frozen & seized. Whatever the balance on your account was before, and no matter how many dollars in payments are pending, Google Adsense TAKES IT ALL and you won’t see that money, ever again. I doubt publishers get an adjusted balance after their accounts are reinstated, that money is KAPUTT!
This is called a short term rip and gain where I come from. Collective punishment, questioning the publishers integrity and honesty, hence seizing all their EARNED MONEY on the spot. Almost like the NSA, declaring you a risk to national security and stripping you of constitutional rights and humane treatment.
If you think you’ll be fine, think again…
Enter into any agreement only after repeating the following sentence 5 x over the next few hours:
I am a idiot, willing to be deceived of honestly earned money for providing valid impressions and clicks for stupid Google Advertising Customers for absolutely NO DAMN REASON AT ALL! I know I won’t be able to prevent clickbombing on my site and I am willing to be financially punished by Google for being the victim of internet criminals, Google could have long stopped. I will not worry about the lost revenue, nor will I become mad about being wronged by Google or any other click to get paid scam artist, because I HAVE BEEN TOLD! I won’t run around looking for Class Action Lawsuits against Google, because all they will do is laugh, despite the fact that Google Adsense would CEASE the second someone was able to access their scam forensically. If I am not a idiot, I am at the very least slightly dumb for thinking I could make a lousy $100/ month from Google Adsense without having my intellect and integrity insulted by Google or any other online PPC advertising network .
There. Make your own decision, but don’t go whining if they screw you too!
My amount was laughably low. $35.00 gone without a chance to get it back. Some group of poor advertisers paid a combined $70.00 to Google for just about two weeks of advertising on my pages. Google DIDN’T and WON’T refund their payments, they will simply adjust for invalid activity on day 6 or 9 of their advertising campaign, if that.
What happened to my piece of the pie?
Thousands and thousand of honest publishers are asking that very same question. Dozens of thousands will ask tomorrow. Hundreds will get the kill notice, loosing 30-50 or 500 and 1000 dollars of validly earned money tomorrow. 2% will see their accounts reinstated, being given another “chance”. Imagine the scope of easy money being raked in by Google and Yahoo/ Bing advertising alone. Yet, nothing will come from it, nobody will take this monster on, legally, for fraud, theft or breach of contract.