Adsense Whistleblower! My Thoughts on the Google Adsense Conspiracy Theory…

Adsense Whistleblower!  My Thoughts on the Google Adsense Conspiracy Theory…

I was minding my own business a few days ago, perusing articles on my Feedly account.  Then I saw an article that not only caught my attention immediately, but also made me visibly upset the more I read it and caused me to tell my wife…”this is SO messed up….if its true!”

I proceeded to relive a moment that quite frankly I don’t think about any more, but a moment that had a dramatic impact on me…it was the most devastating single moment in my business.  It was a moment when I seriously thought I was going to have to crawl back to my old boss and ask for my day job back.

That moment was when my Google Adsense account got banned 2 years ago.  I wrote an extensive post explaining the entire ordeal of when my Google Adsense account got banned right here.

You have to understand my background to know why getting my Adsense account shut down was such a big ordeal.  I had slowly over the course of 3 or 4 years built up tons of niche sites; most earning money from Google Adsense.  My sites were doing so well, that I quit my job in March of 2011.

I averaged just over $10,000 per month for all of 2011 from Google Adsense.  Then in April of 2012, my Adsense account was shut down without warning.  Ouch!

The Accusations Against Google Adsense

The article I read, was about a supposed former Google Adsense employee that had stepped forward to claim that Google had been participating in a massive scheme to shut down Adsense publishers accounts without warning and without reason.

You can read the original anonymous post from the “Google employee” here; and you can also read a Tech Crunch follow up article here that raises doubts about the claims.

As you can imagine, this article struck a chord with me…big time!  I still to this day do not know why my Google Adsense account was shut down.  (And I’ve since been welcomed back to Google Adsense; where I still have all my exact same sites running Adsense, and have never had an issue in 2 years now).

Lets jump right into what the article said, my thoughts, and whether or not I believe this is actually from a former Google Adsense employee.

I’m not going to quote the original post entirely, but will quote from it liberally.

I am a former Google employee and I am writing this to leak information to the public of what I witnessed and took part in while being an employee. My position was to deal with AdSense accounts, more specifically the accounts of publishers (not advertisers). I was employed at Google for a period of several years in this capacity.

Having signed many documents such as NDA’s and non-competes, there are many repercussions for me, especially in the form of legal retribution from Google. I have carefully planned this leak to coincide with certain factors in Google such as waiting for the appropriate employee turn around so that my identity could not be discovered.

To sum it up for everyone, I took part in what I (and many others) would consider theft of money from the publishers by Google, and from direct orders of management. There were many AdSense employees involved, and it spanned many years, and I hear it still is happening today except on a much wider scale. No one on the outside knows it, if they did, the FBI and possibly IRS would immediately launch an investigation, because what they are doing is so inherently illegal and they are flying completely under the radar.

My thoughts: First of all…whoa!  This sounds like some pretty heavy stuff.  And because I was one of those publishers that got shut down a couple years ago, I was certainly intrigued.

Google Bans and Ban Criteria

Before December 2012:

In the first quarter of 2009 there was a “sit-down” from the AdSense division higher ups to talk about new emerging issues and the role we (the employees in the AdSense division needed to play. It was a very long meeting, and it was very detailed and intense. What it boiled down to was that Google had suffered some very serious losses in the financial department several months earlier. They kept saying how we “needed to tighten the belts” and they didn’t want it to come from Google employees pockets. So they were going to (in their words) “carry out extreme quality control on AdSense publishers”. When one of my fellow co-workers asked what they meant by that. Their response was that AdSense itself hands out too many checks each month to publishers, and that the checks were too large and that needed to end right away. Many of the employees were not pleased about this (like myself). But they were successful in scaring the rest into thinking it would be their jobs and their money that would be on the line if they didn’t participate. The meeting left many confused as to how this was going to happen. What did they mean by extreme quality control? A few other smaller meetings occur with certain key people in the AdSense division that furthered the idea and procedure they planned on implementing. There were lots of rumors and quiet talking amongst the employees, there was lots of speculations, some came true and some didn’t. But the word was that they were planning to cut off a large portion of publisher’s payments.

After that point there was a running gag amongst fellow co-workers where we would walk by each other and whisper “Don’t be evil, pft!” and roll our eyes.

What happened afterwards became much worse. Their “quality control” came into full effect. Managers pushed for wide scale account bans, and the first big batch of bans happened in March of 2009. The main reason, the publishers made too much money. But something quite devious happened. We were told to begin banning accounts that were close to their payout period (which is why account bans never occur immediately after a payout). The purpose was to get that money owed to publishers back to Google AdSense, while having already served up the ads to the public.

This way the advertiser’s couldn’t claim we did not do our part in delivering their ads and ask for money back. So in a sense, we had thousands upon thousands of publishers deliver ads we knew they were never going to get paid for.

Google reaped both sides of the coin, got money from the advertisers, used the publishers, and didn’t have to pay them a single penny. We were told to go and look into the publishers accounts, and if any publisher had accumulated earnings exceeding $5000 and was near a payout or in the process of a payout, we were to ban the account right away and reverse the earnings back. They kept saying it was needed for the company, and that most of these publishers were ripping Google off anyways, and that their gravy train needed to end. Many employees were not happy about this. A few resigned over it. I did not. I stayed because I had a family to support, and secondly I wanted to see how far they would go.

Again, these are some pretty serious accusations.  But are they true?  Right off the bat, it does sound a little fishy.  After all, why would Google; a company that has posted solid profits each year suddenly decide to do something so “evil” just to capture a few extra dollars?  And to be clear, the amount of money “saved” from this practice would have been a tiny drop in Google’s bucket.
Google’s Profits over the last 5 years:
googlenetprofits
The leak continues…

The bans of April 2012 came fast and furious. Absolutely none of them were investigated, nor were they justified in any way. We were told to get rid of as many of the accounts with the largest checks/payouts/earnings waiting to happen. No reason, just do it, and don’t question it. It was heart wrenching seeing all that money people had earned all get stolen from them. And that’s what I saw it as, it was a robbery of the AdSense publishers. Many launched appeals, complaints, but it was futile because absolutely no one actually took the time to review the appeals or complaints. Most were simply erased without even being opened, the rest were deposited into the database, never to be touched again.

Several publishers launched legal actions which were settled, but Google had come up with a new policy to deal with situations such as that because it was perceived as a serious problem to be avoided. So they came up with a new policy.

After reading this section, is where the anger really set in for me.  I don’t know if this “leak” is real or not; but this person certainly nailed the exact date of when my Adsense account was banned…April 2012!
I had to get up and pace a few times and call my wife in.  Not only did this story hit home, it was surprisingly accurate…at least according to the dates that I and many others were banned from Google Adsense.
I wrote an entire post about my experience getting banned from Google Adsense, and I mentioned several others that had also just been banned; and NONE of us had a good reason or explanation from Google as to why our accounts had been shut down without warning.
You can read my entire post here about getting banned from Google Adsense…and notice the date of April 2012.  Also notice over 600 comments, many of which are from other Adsense publishers who had also been shut down without any known reason.
The person “leaking” this information then goes on to explain how quality control and more is handled for closely publisher accounts after 2012.  I won’t go into that.  However, the person closes with this…

Their BIG Fear
The biggest fear that Google has about these AdSense procedures and policies is that it will be publicly discovered by their former publishers who were banned, and that those publishers unite together and launch an class-action lawsuit.

They also fear those whose primary monthly earnings are from AdSense, because in many countries if a person claims the monthly amount to their tax agency and they state the monthly amount and that they are earning money from Google on a monthly basis, in certain nations technically Google can be seen as an employer. Thus, an employer who withholds payment of earnings, can be heavily fined by government bodies dealing with labor and employment. And if these government bodies dealing with labor and employment decide to go after Google, then it would get very ugly, very quickly ….. that is on top of a class-action lawsuit.

I really don’t know that this is Google’s biggest fear.  Money is not an issue for Google…so a class action lawsuit is bad not really because of the “heavy fines” or settlements that occur.  The big fear for Google would be bad PR and diminishing of the Google brand.

If advertiser’s and publishers begin to lose trust in Google; THAT’s the real problem…not fines.

My Thoughts on Authenticity

Overall, this person making claims about Google brings up some very interesting points, but there are certainly red flags as well when it comes to authenticity.   TechCrunch brought up several in its recent article.

Language inconsistencies

  • TechCrunch mentions that the whistleblower refers to the department as “Adsense division” rather than “Online Sales and Operations”.  This is a very weak point by TechCrunch.  Of course the person is going to refer to Adsense; because that is what its publicly known as.  In addition, I wouldn’t be surprised that despite the official name of “online sales and operations” most employees informally still call themselves the Adsense team.
  • TechCrunch says the whistleblower should have referred to “being a teamplayer” as “being Googley” instead.  Again this is a super weak point by TechCrunch.  Google is made up of humans, not robots.  My guess is that the “teacher’s pets” of Google still love to use the phrase “being Googley”…but I also suspect that a huge portion of the company would never use this phrase or even don’t like the phrase.  Its a huge company…humans…not robots.
  • “Click Bombing” should have been referred to as invalid clicks.  Maybe; but maybe not.  Again its a huge company, and not everyone is going to use the proper terminology.

Functional Discrepancies

However, TechCruch does make an excellent point about what happens to publisher’s payments when accounts are banned:

Then there’s the functional discrepancies. AdSense’s billing is believed to require a publisher to be paid for an advertiser to be billed. That would block Google’s ability to charge an advertiser but not pay the publisher. Google’s policies explain that if a publisher is suspended for policy violations, “Payment for the 60 days prior to the disabling will be withheld and the money will be returned to impacted advertisers.”

So, if Google was following their policies, this pretty much shatter’s the whistleblower’s entire premise that this whole scheme was concocted as a way to save the company money.  If the money was returned, Google was actually losing money that it had already charged advertisers.

Think about it.  An advertiser pays, $1,000 to Google for ads in the content network (Adsense).  The publisher (you and me) gets approximately 68% of that amount (see their policies here); and Google keeps the other 32%.  So, Google made $320; I (the publisher) made $680 in this example.

If they shut down the Adsense account and return the $1,000; Google is LOSING $320 by shutting down the account.

So, the economics of this whistleblower’s claim just don’t add up.  Google is a company that is making billions; and they don’t make any money by shutting down accounts.  This is the primary reason I have to lean towards this statement being false.

HOWEVER, if its true that they didn’t follow their own policies and kept the money, rather than returning it to the advertisers…THEN that becomes a pretty interesting argument; and a big problem for Google.

So, is there tons of evidence that Google shut down a large number of Adsense publisher’s accounts in April of 2012?  Yes

Is there evidence that advertiser’s were not returned their money?  I have not seen any evidence in that regard.

Google Denies Claims

And of course, Google has officially released a statement denying the claims (posted on TechCrunch):

“This description of our AdSense policy enforcement process is a complete fiction. The color-coding and ‘extreme quality control’ programs the author describes don’t exist. Our teams and automated systems work around the clock to stop bad actors and protect our publishers, advertisers and users.

All publishers that sign up for AdSense agree to the Terms and Conditions of the service and a set of policies designed to ensure the quality of the network for users, advertisers and other publishers. When we discover violations of these policies, we take quick action, which in some cases includes disabling the publisher’s account and refunding affected advertisers.”  

Whistle-blower Rebuttal

And like any good argument, the original Adsense leaker has issued a rebuttal to Google’s statement!  In part it reads:

I have communications. I have documents, I have files, I have lists, and I have names.  I have all of it. Like I said from the beginning, I have carefully waited and carefully planned everything out.

So you ask why haven’t I released it?  The answer, if I release everything I have now, it will give Google too many possible avenues to discover my identity. Also doing thing such as publicly naming people and giving Google a pre-emptive look at what I have will only make them prepare for the class action lawsuit that will hit them.  They won’t be caught off guard and they will have time to come up with excuses and explanations in attempts to rid themselves of this issue.  I do not want that to happen. I want the people to win. I want those who had money they earned, that was stolen from them, to get the right to fight for it on equal grounding.

That is why I have chosen to only release it to the legal representatives of the class action lawsuit against Google in regards to AdSense. (…)

If several months go by and no class action lawsuit manifests, then I will have to selectively release a few key pieces of evidence to the public at large.

The information and evidence I have is extensive and quite detailed, it will also paint a very different picture of what Google is really like to the public.

This individual clearly is doing all he can to sound official, but until he actually puts up some real evidence; I’m going to have to remain skeptical.

However, this has stirred up many others to discuss some of Google’s internal policies; including what time of month accounts get shut down.  I was shared a poll recently posted on Y Combinator looking to gather data about when their Adsense account was shut down.

My Final Thoughts

Overall, reading the originally Adsense “leak” stirred up a lot of bad memories for me!  Unfortunately, just because the user nailed the date when my Adsense account (and many others) were shut down, does not mean its true.

I have no idea why this person would bring up these claims, but at this point, there is just not enough evidence to consider the conspiracy as true.

However, this discussion does bring up at least one good point.  Google Adsense does not communicate well with its publishers.  When my account was shut down, I never received any warnings and email requests for information as to why my account was shut down were never addressed.  I was given the same generic answer that everyone else was given.

It hurts pretty bad when you lose $10k/month and Google won’t even tell you why.   If nothing else, Google could learn to communicate better with its publishers.

I do want to re-iterate that my story has a happy ending!  Even though my account was shut down, I formed a new business entity, applied for a new account, and was approved just a few short months after being shut down in 2012.  I’ve been a happy user of Google Adsense for the past 2 years without any issue.  (Here’s my post from 2012 explaining how I got back in with Google Adsense).

I put the new Adsense code back on all my old sites (and now my new sites), and I’ve been earning ever since.  Why was I shut down the first time?  I still don’t know…and Google Adsense doesn’t appear to be interested in shutting me down again; so I’ve stopped trying to figure out why.

For me, this really struck a chord.  Adsense was my primary source of income for about 2 years straight…and so I just had to post my thoughts on the Adsense debate.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Do you believe there is any truth behind this Adsense whistle-blower’s claims?  And if its just a conspiracy, why in the world would someone post all of this?


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73 Comments for this entry

  1. Perrin says:

    Interesting stuff!

    I’m never sure what to think of whistle-blowers, but it’s certainly fishy that the dates coincide so perfectly with your ban.

    I also have a pretty strong affection for Google as a consumer, and, really, I don’t WANT to believe they would do something like that. Also, it doesn’t seem like that money would even be a drop in the bucket for Google.

    Still, where money is changing hands, corruption happens.

    Very interesting to think about for sure…

    • GM says:

      In fact it is not so strange or unusual that the dates of Adsense bans coincide, because it is a widespread free information to which all of us have access (Spencer himself mentions that there were many publishers that have complained in comments after his post), so it is not too hard to make a timetable of the possible/probable ban dates.
      A few days research is enough to put the “ban milestones” on a calendar, I think…

  2. Priyank says:

    Hey Spencer,

    Interesting, but unauthorized claims.

    Anybody interested in part 2 of that article, here it is – http://pastebin.com/DXTu8Mcm

    Seems like a case of creating incidental match to the date of multiple bans from Google.

    If true, this is ridiculous on part of google really.

    But we can only guess or give opinions.

    Thankfully, I never tried to implement adsense code on my site as I always think that’s last option one should go with.

    Spencer may hate me for this but that’s what I believe. If you have even basic conversion skills, you can make much more than just adsense blocks, which are quite limited in how creative you can be with sizes, placements and banners.

    Regards,
    Priyank

    • Josh Escusa says:

      That also depends on what niche you are in. Some niches aren’t product oriented to convert buying traffic. Also some niches don’t have easy to access affiliate programs with related products. I’ve done both adsense and affiliate programs and both have there uses.

  3. Nate says:

    “We were told to go and look into the publishers accounts, and if any publisher had accumulated earnings exceeding $5000 and was near a payout or in the process of a payout, we were to ban the account right away and reverse the earnings back.”

    It doesn’t make sense that Google would ban these accounts. Sure they would make a little extra money that month, but they would be shooting themselves in the foot. By keeping the accounts they would make exponentially more money off them in months and years into the future.

  4. Josh Escusa says:

    I don’t think it’s authentic. Your point on how Google is losing money by closing accounts is right on so how would they be saving money? They would be losing future income from keeping the person on.

    I’ve lost one account, but when I look back I can see how I may not have been using adsense according to Googles Terms of Service.

    I’ve since corrected it and had no problems.

  5. Kashif says:

    There is always some fire behind the smoke. Having said this, I believe Google is not a charity and it is out there to make money just like any other business. I have seen and heard CPM/CPC advertisers applying caps on large publishers (that generate more than $5K / month, say). There was one account with a reputable advertising network that was stopped without providing due clarification as it started to generate $7K+. However, these are just assumptions and people can give you arguments both for and against.

    It is always recommended to spread your advertisers and do not rely solely on a single paycheck because if that bounces, you are in a mess.

  6. Doug says:

    Well, Google was just caught being shady and convicted when it was revealed that they conspired with Apple and some other big Silicon Valley giants to not hire each other’s engineers, because they didn’t want to have the compensation of engineers skyrocket.

  7. Pat says:

    Sounds like a Microsoft/Bing Ads propaganda. Kudos to them for a very believable accusation!

  8. Rick says:

    “I still to this day do not know when my Google Adsense account was shut down.” I’m guessing you meant to say “why” instead of “when”.

    Any news on a Google algorithm update around May 1?

    • Spencer Haws says:

      Correcting now…thanks. No, I haven’t heard any news on a Google update…my sites have been increasing in traffic.

    • Darren Thompson says:

      I actually saw one of my major sites drop off page one on May 1st after being firmly entrenched for 6 plus months – but also a sudden spike in long tail deep posts across my network. There was definitely some form of update as the metrics suddenly went upside down.

  9. Robert says:

    Can’t believe it without evidence or authority behind the claim. Like you pointed out though Spencer, there are a lot of people who rely on adsense to put food on the table, its a shame Google has policies in place which can completely destroy a persons livelyhood without warning or recourse.

  10. Ken says:

    In myth busters terminology I would mark this one as “plausible”.

    Tech crunch’s theories are no stronger or weaker than the original article. If I’m explaining something about my work to outsiders then I use plain language, not internal jargon.

    As for motivation,if the chief bean counters decide that they need to lift revenue by 10% or the earnings report might dip the share price then staff need to take action.

    Adsense policy’s have always been a bit flexible, you can’t have a site purely to display adsense, unless it was the adsense for domains project. You can’t do anything to encourage users to click your ads, unless your google dropping arrows to fill white space……..

    I won’t be surprised if this turns out to proven, though the whistleblower won’t get a lawyer to start a class action without seeing the evidence he claims to have.

  11. alex says:

    Hey Spencer,

    Interesting & scary post for sure. I know a lot people rely on their Adsense income and having that wiped out overnight would surely be a nightmare.

    Not to get sidetracked too much, but most of your posts/studies lately have been about Amazon affiliates or other projects. Are you still making good money with Adsense or have you noticed any decline? Just wondering because it seems like Amazon is the hot ticket right now and nobody really talks about Adsense much anymore.

    • Spencer Haws says:

      Most of my sites are still monetized by Adsense. Its only been in the last year or so that I started shifting over to Amazon…just to experiment more. You can do great with Amazon (and yes its “hot” right now), but no reason people can’t continue to do well with Adsense. I have some great adsense sites still.

  12. Nick says:

    I think the whole article is fake.

    But people that say google is losing money when they ban adsense accounts are not entirely accurate. When they return the money to the advertiser, google will not “lose” that money, the advertiser will still use that money in the adwords ecosystem. It will probably just use it on another website or another campaign, but google will still take it share.

    That’s why adsense publishers are not valued that much. Because the real google customers are the adwords users, and if they ban an adsense publisher, they won’t lose any money since it is the adwords customer that gives them money, and there are plenty of other websites in the system where the adwords customer can spend his money.

    So if you think google is losing money by banning adsense accounts, think again.

  13. santel says:

    Hi Spencer,

    Thank for sharing your own opinion on this. I used to apply Adsense code on a site that is not comply with their policies. I have received a warning email to remove the code from the site but my account is still active.

    Somehow, I agree with you that Google need to improve their communication with publishers.

    I also mentioned this in their recent survey.

  14. Marty says:

    I was always surprised you were banned Spencer.
    While someone like Pat Flynn received a warning re: color blending. That never made sense to me.

  15. uche says:

    The whistle-blower seems to have plausible argument, but is it possible that such fraudulent practice could be carried out by a few people at the top so as to enrich their private pockets? Could such practice go on without the knowledge of the management team?

  16. Alex says:

    Very interesting.

    Google didn’t ban me because…… I DON’T HAVE ANY ADSENSE ACCOUNT.

    I always want to monetize my websites with adsense, but they just don’t approve my application.

    How can I get an adsense account?

  17. lynn says:

    Spencer,

    I first started reading your blog about 6 months before your account was banned. It was for this reason I never tried to monetize anything with Google adsense and still today do not rely on the serp’s for anything. Whether or not what the whistle blower said was true, I still think Google has too much control. Although there are other search engines, they really have a monopoly.

    • Rob says:

      I have to agree with this to a certain extent. Google wants to control what it shows in their search engine because they can make money by forcing people to advertise with them so they can pay to be one of those top couple spots through googles own advertising program.

      As for adsense you have to love being invoked in something when the rules are very vague, they don’t go into any detail about what you did, can ban you at a moments notice, and you have no repercussions. Sounds like a perfect way to steal from people at will.

  18. dan says:

    spencer you dont understand 1 thing
    if google will shut you the advertise will spend that money on google properties, which will earn google 100% instead of 32%

    there is no unlimited advertiser money, there is a thershold
    when adsense is profitable for google, there is a thershold
    below its profitable above its not profitable

    about your ban, if one stupid employee in google decide to bban you are … they will not tell you why and will 99
    of times will not change thier mind

    however if you file law suite, they 99% will setel with you
    there are xxx-xxxx open cases in any given time

    how come you dont hear about google losses, because
    they setel, there is no other explanation for that

    i am not saying this letter is true, but there are some truth there I never read online but from my expirence can tell you tthey are correct

    there is nothing personal with google, it just like country with laws..

    until there will be real competition, we will just need to learn the … dance..

  19. Jeff says:

    It sounds a little fishy, but I doubt they would shut down Adsense accounts simply because they are too big……….if they were concerned about possible legal implications, they could easily clarify the guidelines and terms for these accounts.

  20. Kim says:

    Thought this might interest everyone here, a new large scale Amazon product review site, that donates part of the affliate revenue to charity: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/05/thoughts-on-hugdug.html
    Thoughts?

  21. without the documents, lets just write the whole thing off as a big troll shall we?

  22. Brad says:

    The communication was my biggest pet peeve about getting banned. I had a couple of ugly sites with Adsense on them that would get a click or two a month but to just ban my entire account without saying “Hey – this site sucks” just blows.

    What hurt the most is my YouTube channel as I have a couple videos with over 100k views that would each do $20 a day in Adsense before getting banned.

    I’m curious to see what comes of this.

  23. stephen says:

    strong arguement , spencer.
    But i think as a blogger and writer, in my own opinion. I have to be able to regulate my adsense accounts not to overlap $ 5,000 per account.
    i will just have to open more accounts in the future. but then how can i use different names?
    Can i use my name but with different emails? then wont google identify me as the same person.
    well am just being cautious not to loose money. whether this is a hoast or something for the whistleblower to make his own claims to fulfill any agenda he has like a competitor’s strategy.
    Or whether everything is true. right now i dont know.
    but what i know is to be careful about my adsense earning process and regulate not to exceed 5,000 or even 4000 per account.

    • Spencer Haws says:

      No, an individual cannot open multiple adsense accounts. However, a business entity can open 1 account. So, if you want multiple adsense accounts, you will have to form a legal business entity.

  24. Mark Petereit says:

    So, millions (billions?) of dollars fraudulently withheld by one of the highest-visibility tech companies on the planet? A disgruntled whistleblower with detailed documentation?

    A company that’s a huge Democrat donor in an election year where Republicans are poised for unprecedented landslides?!

    Oh, there will DEFINITELY be a class-action lawsuit! And FTC, SEC and probably congressional investigations. I’m sure the surf is boiling with the legal shark feeding frenzy about to gather.

  25. Andrew says:

    I believe that it is true. My account was banned and I lost 3k. My friend lost $5k+. It happened after more than 2 years of operation. I had adsense on my mini sites and all my traffic was from Google. But the reason is clear. Google is an owner of search traffic and I was selling their traffic back to them. Sure it’s redicolus from their point of view.

  26. Anon says:

    Well,
    Its easy … they dont want people to earn money for free, the want people to BUY traffic to get money.

    Why pay someone thats getting 5000$ for free, if there is another one thats paying PPC for the same trafic(niche).

    This is not just an adsense problem, it involves adwords too.

    Like facebook limiting fanpages reach now … they want people to PAY for the traffic.

    There is a very defined route, Google is responding to results ON page more and more … eventually they will not send more traffic to sites and only relay on they search rich results and adwords for search money.

    Google is driving free traffic to so many sites, I wonder how long this will take …

    • Spencer Haws says:

      Perhaps you are not understanding how Adsense works. Advertisers using ADWORDS, bid on terms for the content network. This content network IS google adsense (publisher websites). So, Google isn’t just paying someone $5000 for free…they are charging advertisers for the money and only giving 68% of it to publishers. They profit 32% off the top.

  27. Alex says:

    I find it hard to believe that Google’s management would take the kind of action that Whisteblower describes, with all the attendant risks, for a relatively small financial reward. But I will keep an open mind until more evidence came to light.

    Google does appear (to me) to be a very arrogant organisation.

    This is my own opinion, based on certain interactions which I have had with the company (as an Adsense publisher), and also from reading other people’s stories about how Google has dealt with them.

    It seems that many publishers feel that Google’s actions towards them have been unfair or high-handed.

    Google’s policies – and their refusal to explain their actions or engage in discussion with individuals they have penalized -may have created a lot of enemies.

    Whilsteblower would appear to be one, whether his story is true or not.

    Arrogance is not a small failing in a large company, it is a killer disease. It destroys goodwill amongst customers, service providers, management and employees. I believe it has brought down many very large companies in the past.

    At the very least, Google might want to review their communication strategies, and their attitude towards all the little guys out there, some of whom will one day carry a lot of influence in the marketplace.

  28. Kwan says:

    Google is all about control. That’s were all their money is coming from, controlling anything tech related. When you make too much money and have so much control, you can do anything you like and the small fraction of those complaining won’t derail the train. Every system has a loophole and I don’t see this adsense conspiracy theory, whether true or not, affecting them one bit.

  29. I started using Adsense in the beginning, I think 2003.

    They gave us Christmas gifts the first couple years.

    I was making on average, $3,000 a month, with spikes above $5,000, from the beginning until April 5, 2008, when my site fell from ranking #2 to somewhere beyond page 10 in the SERPs.

    After the drop in traffic, I consolidated a lot of the sites into one site and just left it out there, without updates.

    It was not an aggressive site. I had given up on it and really didn’t care or try to do much with it.

    I continued to make $200-$300 a month for a couple years, then was banned in July of 2012, 3 months after the date in the story.

    I hadn’t changed a thing in at least a year before it was banned.

    No idea why or what happened.

  30. Charles says:

    I think Google should be more clear if they ban someone’s AdSense account or one of the sites on the account. I have about 15 sites on my AdSense account. I had one of my sites AdSense deactivated by Google and as usual they never explain why. I checked the site and found one potential link to a magazine article mentioning a lottery winning and another to a site in England where I think people can play bingo for money (gambling?).

    I removed both links and took off all the ads on pages where I mention gambling, even though my site is not about gambling. I checked the site for anything else I thought might violate there TOS but found none. Resubmitting it I was denied. I rechecked the site again, found nothing wrong, but made most of the outgoing links nofollow because I thought maybe that was a problem.I resubmitted the site again and was denied again.

    I haven’t been able to find anything wrong with the site and had not updated the site in the last two years of the 4 years it had been up. I spent untold hours going thru the site looking for problems. It would be so simple to correct whatever the problem is if Google would say what is wrong.

    • Kevin says:

      At least they are now deactivating one site versus your entire account!

      When both my personal and corporate accounts were shut down April 9, 2012, I never had the luxury of getting one site deactivated. No explanation on which site was the offending one.

      I was bitter at first and refused to try them again, but then dug into the Google TOS for the first time ever and realized my biggest money maker site went totally and completely against their TOS, and many of my smaller niche sites were as well.

      I suspect most, if not all publishers have a site or two that were against their TOS and that is why they were shut down. Google just wasn’t equipped to handle deactivating individual sites back then.

      I’ve since signed up for a new Adsense account and now their reporting is just so much better! I get the sense they’ll let me know about any individual website issues before shutting me down completely.

      Of course, I have a much better grasp of their TOS now so I shouldn’t have those problems again.

    • Spencer Haws says:

      Sorry to hear, would be nice if Google communicated better.

  31. lea says:

    Didn’t Google pay out a large sum of money recently to employees saying that they withheld pay? They choose not to go to court to save their public image.

    I wouldn’t put anything past Big corporations these days.They love downsizing, cost cutting, and saving money. In this case, I think google was looking to protect themselves from potential lawsuits.

    I was reading article that stated that adsense earners earnings were way down and have been since 2011. At the same time Google ad profits have increased dramatically.

  32. Greg says:

    Based on experience with a similar situation, I place no confidence in Tech Crunch speculations about how a Google employee would write and what terms they would use.

    It is entirely possible that a former Google employee wrote every word of that statement.

  33. Interesting read…. If an Australian based company did the same thing, they would be investigated, and most likely have charges laid against them.

    Google should provided proof of refunding the money back to the Advertiser’s account..

  34. The main thing I take away from this is not to put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify, diversify, diversify.

    Google doesn’t care about you or your life, so don’t rely on Google to always be there for you. Chances are that one day you will get banned and never be let back in, so plan for that and have appropriate contingencies in place.

  35. Brooke Oharroll says:

    I got banned too. So suck.

  36. I got my website smacked by AdSense to some time ago, now experimenting with Chitika, hope it turns out well.

  37. Chris Naish says:

    I think one aspect nobody is looking at here is where are all the AdWords customers who had their money refunded?

    They wouldn’t be as vocal as the AdSense publishers who had their money taken of course but shouldn’t we be seeing at least some advertisers mentioning refunds during this period somewhere?

  38. Edgar says:

    When Google bans your AdSense account, they also ban all the your domain names that were using AdSense.

    I find it hard to believe that you were able to use AdSense again by simply reapplying under a new LLC. Your domain names would still be banned.

    • Spencer Haws says:

      Edgar, that’s not true. They don’t ban the domain names. I’m living proof…and many others have done the same. They CAN ban domains, but that has never occurred on any of mine.

  39. Subham says:

    I am scared after reading all the comments . I have my own java blog hosted on blogspot domain. If google someday bans my adsense account ,thats it , my blogging career will be over . I am too much rely on it .
    Thanks for sharing this . I learn that it is safe not to put all the eggs in the same bucket

  40. Hi,

    I wanted to believe the claim is true but until there is a class lawsuit by any means, i reserve my judgement. I still remember reading lots of comments and articles on publisher got hit big time. Some of them earning in five figures and six figures as well.

    Just imagine if google ban all these big time earners and keep all the money, do you know how much they’re earning.

    Hey,do your maths.

    Spencer, thanks for this article. Simply love reading this kind of stuff.

  41. andro says:

    I had my account band at the same time, can only imagine the pain. With no explication adsense realy realy need better communication with publishers otherwise they risk there reputation or do they care.we should be able to reactive accounts just like your self. You are lucky… :) But I will be trying amazon as this looks more stable.

  42. Michael says:

    Didn’t Pat Flynn’s account also get shut down withouth warning?

    I still don’t believe that there is a conspiracy, and if the guy actually has some evidance, lets see the class action law suite. Or is he just hoping for a nice pay off from his former employer?

    • Hi,

      I don’t think Pat Flynn account got shut down. His security site still going strong. Check out his latest income update. Amazing stats all round.

  43. George says:

    It is pretty scary for anyone to have so much of their revenue come from Adsense only. It’s like investing your entire portfolio in one stock.
    Conspiracy theories stem from lack of sufficient information. I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth.
    I also agree that many companies bring accusation on by lack of clear communication.
    I do think that it is unfair that google or anyone can shut down your income without any explanation. I think that could be considered evil.

  44. Dhruv Bhagat says:

    How can I improve CTR ?

    Any advice?

    Thanks!

    • Spencer Haws says:

      Test ad layouts and colors; sizes, etc.

      • Sunil says:

        To some extent this conspiracy theory could be true. Considering the monopoly they enjoy in the business, it seems natural, if not ethical, to me. After all, they are in business, not philanthropy and will do whatever benefits them.

        Hi Spencer, a quick question for you: What to do if Google rejects your AdSense application?

        I run a product reviews site with decent traffic (about 50k per month). The site is clean and informative with over 50+ long, original articles except that I run Amazon associate program on the site.

        Recently I applied for the Google AdSense but they rejected citing “Site does not comply with Google policies”. I’ve everything in place: About Us Page, Contact Page, Privacy Policy, Disclosure etc. Should I re-apply? Your advice please! Thanks

  45. Raul says:

    The anonymous writer might be a hoax, but it make complete sense. The article was written recently so that justifies for the teamwork or click bombing word. Just because in 2009 they didn’t call it like he mentioned doesn’t mean is not true.
    1. it was true the 2009 and 2012 massive ban.
    2. The color code might be true give the fact that eBay doesn’t get banned. meaning eBay would be on the green category.
    3. is true the fact that they get banned just before the pay period.
    I didnt find anything false in that article.
    Just because google denies those claims doesnt mean is not happening as described. maybe they upgraded from the color code. who knows.

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