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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Google AdSense: All Hail Our Digital Overlords

Welcome to the new, advertisement free blogs of yours truly. Apparently, I have violated Google's AdSense policy, and as such, my AdSense account has been disabled. The specific reason(s) for my account being disabled are not known, because such things are secret. Basically, "we could tell you but then we'd have to kill you." Seriously -- it's almost that bad! Check out the 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 might have been involved."
So you don't know why your account was deleted, other than that "something" happened that they deemed in violation of their policy. I have a guess as to what may have happened to me (people on my local IP clicking ads, including perhaps young children -- also potentially frequent refreshing of web pages from my home IP), but what's bothersome is this: if Google, at their sole discretion, deems any clicks or page hits to be invalid, they already remove those clicks and/or hits from your earnings. You don't get paid, you don't get warned, and they still shut down your AdSense account. How does anyone make money (other than Google, naturally) from AdSense!? (Other possibilities: me linking BTC and LTC at the bottom of each post may have been a violation, or perhaps any Amazon Affiliate links -- either could potentially be "cause for concern".)

What bothers me most is the timing of this. I've had an AdSense account for about seven months. During that time, I have not had any violations that I'm aware of (not that they'd tell me, I suppose), and I have basically been using my blog sites in the same way as far as I can tell. Right now, I have "potential earnings" but have not received any actual money as I have not met the minimum payment threshold of $100. Based on my traffic, I should have hit that $100 mark this month, but wouldn't you know it: I violated their policies and now any and all AdSense revenue is gone. Seems like a great way to get out of paying a blogger $100 while still keeping all of the revenue from the actual advertisers!

Nearly 50,000 page views, fought and scrapped for, have all been for naught, at least as far as advertising income goes. Obviously, I'm not doing this blogging for the direct advertising money (I'd be making something like $0.10 per hour I think, if I were to get that $100 AdSense payment). However, the principle of the matter is greatly frustrating. Lately I've been averaging around $20-$30 in revenue per month, which if nothing else is a nice little surprise when you actually get paid. ("Hey honey, let's go out to eat -- my treat!") Barring people actually donating via BTC/LTC, about all that I've gotten out of these blogs is a few nice comments and maybe $5 or so in Amazon Affiliate links. Woohoo! I'm rich! (LTC mining, incidentally, even at the current increased difficulty continues to generate more than $20 in income per day from my computers -- 30X more profitable than AdSense, and thankfully it can't be arbitrarily seized by Google.)

I can also look at my blog traffic (where I don't even include my own visits, as I have the potential to open the site on upwards of a dozen different PCs each day), and from that I can see that at least 75% of all traffic is 100% guaranteed to not be from me (i.e. the traffic comes from the wrong browser -- I never use Internet Explorer, Safari, Android, or iOS, and rarely use Firefox). Of course, the Blogger statistics are also a fair estimate, showing around 200-500 Pageviews every day (and at best only 2% or so would possibly come from me). And any and all YouTube traffic would have been valid -- I don't have time to visit YouTube and watch a video so that I can click on an advertisement, so I only go there when I'm uploading a new video. So most likely, of the blog traffic that actually earned revenue, all of it was legit (since the 2% that wasn't legit was already removed by Google -- I assume if a page hit or click came from my home IP, it didn't count, right?) But, their system has detected some violation, I don't know what exactly, and so I'm out of luck and Google keeps the $90 or whatever that I had almost earned.

Naturally, I have appealed the decision, and I even admit some clicks and refreshes came from my home IP address. (I view my own blogs, duh. So if there's a typo or comment, I'm going to reload a page several times, plus hitting the URL so that I can post it to Facebook. And on occasion, there's an advertisement that is either so bad or in rare instances potentially useful that I've clicked it.) We'll see how the appeal goes, and I'll be sure to report the result here, but I suspect this blog entry alone will be enough to ensure I don't get reinstated. I do love this part of the appeal FAQ: "Once we've reached a decision on your appeal, further appeals may not be considered, and you might not receive any further communication from us." So, they will come to a decision, it will be final, and most likely you'll never hear more from Google again. Nice, guys. Way to take your ball and go home.

Over the many years that I've been in the tech industry, I've heard people express concern about the success of Google -- and their size, data mining, etc. Most of the time someone says, "I wouldn't trust my data to Google..." you'll hear someone else jump to their defense. Well, actions like this in regards to AdSense are part of the reason people don't trust Google. They can do whatever they want, and it's your privilege to serve them. Blogger/Blogspot was one of their many acquisitions, along with DoubleClick and many other companies. People used to be afraid of the size of Microsoft or Intel; these days, I'd say Google and Apple are far scarier propositions!

On the bright side, I won't worry about trying to generate any other revenue through advertising. I suppose there's a chance my AdSense appeal will be heard and those will start showing up again, but it doesn't seem likely. Big Brother was watching, and I got the one strike you're out ruling. Don't bother to try signing up again, as they'll notice that at some point (probably right before you get your first $100 check) -- and if you're related to me, that might be enough for Google to question your account as well!

As for me, I continue to write on the Internet, here and elsewhere. This sort of stuff is nothing new, and as one of the largest and most successful businesses around, Google knows how it's done. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; Google will soon buy out any remaining competition. And I for one welcome our new digital overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted blogger personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground spambot search optimization networks.

BTC: 1JSrAuxPUhD2rS6yYLiPPT6X8fvz7c7k1W
LTC: LXpEZcNJtikd263z7Ha3vrdYDcLU7hiKWv

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