The Word Bay

I got banned from Adsense, and I think I know why

September 14th, 2012

Well, we all hope it won’t happen, but we fear someday it might – I got suspended (read: banned) from Adsense in late August, with about $1500 in unpaid earnings, which I won’t be seeing now of course.

I have already submitted, and had turned down, an appeal, so I guess that’s me out of Adsense, just as I was seeing some serious earnings from the program, and from some sites that were, and still are, doing nicely.

So what happened? Well, as we all know Adsense bans happen all the time, most of them are probably automated and get triggered by algorithms that detect potentially fraudulent click patterns and suchlike. Nobody is ever given a very specific reason they were banned, they are very secretive in that respect because they do not want to give too many clues about how they detect fraud and give fraudsters an opportunity to potentially work around them.

Well, the reason I was given for my suspension was the “your account is related to an account that was disabled for violations of AdSense policies” explanation – one of the standard ones that many others have had, nothing to do with invalid clicks. The wording of the email also suggested that my account had had a manual review, which confirms what many suspect, that when your earnings start to hit $100 or more per day, that gets you on their radar and they come and have a human (“specialist”, they referred to them in the email as) have a closer look at your account.

What I did wrong (hint: nothing)

Well, I racked my brains for days – what the heck were they talking about? What disabled account?! I have only ever had the one account since 2008, and to my knowledge have never associated with anyone else involved in the Adsense program. Perhaps it was just one of those canned explanations that shouldn’t really be taken at face value.

I had already submitted my appeal when it suddenly hit me – I can’t believe I had forgotten about it! I am 99% sure that this is the reason for my ban.

My brother was banned from Adsense 4 or 5 years ago for invalid click activity!

*Headslap!!* Now what he was up to at the time and whether the accusation was true I do not exactly know and do not want to. What I do know is:

  • I had completely forgotten about this incident
  • I have NO business connections with my brother, he is no longer involved in Internet marketing of any sort and whatever “youthful indiscretion” he might have committed at the time, I had no knowledge of or part in it, nor should it have ANY bearing on the standing of my account
  • my brother lives 1500 miles from me the other side of Europe, we see each other very rarely and do not communicate about my websites in any way, he has no part in my Internet business and I have never revealed the sites I run Adsense on to him, which is my strict policy. Not even my wife knows my sites.
  • my brother was an adult at the time he was banned and entirely responsible for his own affairs.

Evidently for the Adsense people this “guilt by association” is too strong, however, because my second appeal outlining these circumstances was also brushed off. I have a feeling that this connection is just too risky for them and they aren’t going to want me in the program with an “Adsense abuser” as my next-of-kin.

So just think how unfair this is, for a second, will you?

You can get banned from Adsense through NO fault of your own, merely by close personal association with someone who has previously been banned from the program. You might not even KNOW they were banned (I did, but had completely forgotten, I think we only discussed it once)! And there is NO way back in, unless someone there has a LOT of understanding and gives in to my 31st appeal, which I am not holding out too much hope for. Even if I opened a new account in the name of my company, well, that would be associated with ME, wouldn’t it..!

What next?

Well, I won’t deny that it has come as a blow, the unpaid money notwithstanding – Adsense was proving to be a very healthy income stream for me and it is a real shame to lose it, especially through no wrongdoing of my own. However, I knew Adsense was a risky proposition, and so should you, if you are using it. You MUST have a Plan B, you must build sites in niches that CAN be monetised in ways other than with Adsense – I am glad to say that I did, and have already put other forms of advertising on those big-earning sites which seems to be earning me at least nearly as much as Adsense was.

My family won’t go hungry, I have other businesses off- and online, and the money in my Adsense account was always kind of Monopoly money to me until the cheque cleared, I never relied on it since I knew it could always be taken away from me.

By all means use Adsense on your sites, it’s still a very good program – just don’t forget, it could be you next…