Thursday, January 21, 2016

How Would You Change AdSense?

Here's a question for all of you - or any of you - that have had frustrations with Adsense. Sometimes things don't work as intended, do they? This can be particularly true of companies that use automation for much of their processes. I'm sure at some point in their AdSense career every publisher has probably said something like "If I ran Adsense, I'd __________!". So, let's fill in the blank.

What would you do if you ran the AdSense Program; what would you change, fix, or drop? How would you make those changes work? After all, it's easy to say "this should be better", but it's not always easy to come up with a viable way to make those changes work.

Here's my lists:

Publisher Pluses

1. Good publishers would be rewarded. Maybe with quarterly bonuses, or a premium-style ad format. By good publisher, I don't mean "high earning publishers". I mean publishers whose sites contain no violations, who practice good ad placements, who don't promote their sites using non-approved methods, etc. etc.

2. Payment thresholds would be lowered a little (maybe $75) and the process for validating a publisher's address would be changed to uploaded documents when crossing the threshold, instead of waiting for a PIN by regular mail. Since very few countries have check payments any longer, verifying a person's country address by documents makes more sense, and creates less waiting time, meaning publishers may be able to collect their first earnings a little quicker.
(a) country changes could be requested through the account, rather than publishers having to close their current accounts, however, in order for a country change to be approved, publishers would have to provide (i) documentation for the address they signed up with and (ii) documentation for their new address. They'd have to prove they lived at the first country address, as well as that they've moved to a new country.
3. Publishers would not even have the ability to change a spelling error in the payee name, however, they could submit a request to Adsense to correct it. Name changes would not be allowed except in the cases of marriage (normally a woman who changes her name when she marries, but in some cultures, that could be the man who changes their name); death of a spouse, where the surviving spouse becomes the account owner if the spouse is the heir; the transfer of an account from a parent to a child who has reached 18 and qualifies for their own account (in which case, the parent's name would be removed from AdSense so the parent could qualify for their own separate account in the future).

4. Business accounts (for actual, real already existing businesses) would have a separate platform for ads and would not use AdSense. Businesses must provide proof (by documentation) that they exist and can support themselves without the "BusinessAd" platform. Nobody would be creating a business name just to get Adsense ads. The business would need to be a viable business on it's own before they qualify.

5. Publishers would have varying levels of support from email to phone, based on their years with AdSense and their site's quality ratings (oh yes, publishers sites would have quality ratings), and not be based on how much they earn. This of course would mean slower response times, but since I'd envision a lot less publishers, and even less of them who would require support, it would probably work.

AdSense Pluses

1. I'd drop the YouTube program (sorry tubers) and start up a new format for YT.
Publishers would be invited based on specific videos, not entire channels. If one or two videos on a channel are selected, that's all that would be monetized. Not the channel, just the videos. Videos would be selected for monetizing after a human review for quality, length, language (ie: no "f" words), content compliance, and copyright. That would make it a lot slower, but end up with less problematic videos, and with videos long enough to actually be monetized. It's pointless monetizing 7 or 10 second videos.
2. I'd enforce the age requirement. If you aren't 18, you can't "use" Adsense, not even with a parent's Adsense account (sorry young'uns). Why? Because a lot of the youngsters we see using AdSense simply don't understand the rules and guidelines and don't bother to follow any of them.  Some sign up using a parent's (or other older relative) name without the knowledge or approval of an adult. This is not only wrong, it's bad.

A minor who is 13 or older could use a parent's account under certain circumstances. That would involve a direct telephone interview with the parent and a staff member, with confirming information that the parent will be monitoring their child's site/channel for community behaviour, and for contents. (yeah, that's tuff ... not many kids would want their parents seeing some of what they do). A parent would be required to review each video or blog post before it's published. Basically, this would mean the adult then becomes responsible for everything done by the minor. I wonder how many parents would agree to this?

To be fair, we've seen some very mature youngsters who do everything right, but they seem to be the exception, rather than the rule.

(What's also true, however, is that many adults appear to be even more immature than some of the younger folks.)

3. I'd set the bar higher for quality and content. So high, some of my own sites might not even qualify to show ads. Every application would be reviewed manually, once it passed the initial crawler review. Doing that manually would slow things down tremendously, though. Publishers would wait months for a site review. But manual review should guarantee that only those with the highest quality content that is all original, and actually useful, would make it into Adsense (that is, if I've trained my staff right). AdSense is (er, would be) for content "creators", not for content copiers, aggregators, or those who make websites for the sole purpose of making money from ads. And sites would need to be at least a year old, with a minimum of 100 visitors per day. No "viral" sites with sensational headlines that don't match the contents properly would be allowed into AdSense if it were up to me. They're mostly nonsense, and mostly copied. That would be one category of site that simply wouldn't make it under me.
(a) Every approved publisher would not simply be able to use their ads wherever they like. They'd be required to submit each new website for human review and approval before they can place ads on them.
(b) All accounts would be monitored monthly. Each site would be re-reviewed quarterly. If sites fail the quarterly review, ads would be removed from the site.
4. News sites of any kind would not be monetized (sorry newsmongers), BUT, I would set up an entirely different form of Google advertising for news sites (maybe something like "NewsAds). Haven't quite figured the details on that, but moving news sites to a platform that is separate from AdSense would make sense for AdSense Publishers, and for the news sites.

5. Accounts disabled for clearly fraudulent activity would be reported to authorities and would have no chance for appeal. Accounts disabled for policy violations would be paid out whatever funds they earned on pages/sites that didn't violate policy, but would not be able to use AdSense again. Accounts disabled for invalid clicks would lose whatever earnings were earned from invalid activity, but retain whatever amounts they earning from valid clicks. Both policy and invalid click disabled accounts would have a chance to file an appeal.


6. People wanting to fill out an application for AdSense would first need to complete an online test that costs $1 to take. Once the test mode is entered, you cannot leave or close it, nor get access to the help files or blogs or anything else. You have to be able to answer the questions about Adsense and it's uses and policies on your own. If you can't answer the basic questions right, you fail. If you fail, you don't get to fill out an application. You can try the test again after studying the guidelines ... for another $1.  If you pass the basic test, you can fill out an application. A maximum of 2 applications can be made free of charge. After that, if neither application is accepted, you must pay $2 to complete and submit further applications.  This will help to avoid people creating multiple accounts and trying crappy website after crappy website. If you have to start paying, you might actually take the time to have a suitable website FIRST.

Of course, all of the above would take a great deal more staff than what's currently available, which means I'd have to put out a lot of money in salaries, so perhaps have to keep more of the percentage - either that, or things would move even slower in AdSense than they currently do.

... I have a lot of other things on my list and most apply for pre-approval or website quality.

And here, at last, is the real point of this post. Stop complaining that Adsense is what they are. They could be much worse.

Obviously, most of the above post is "tongue-in-cheek", since it would never happen.

I'm afraid that I would be a much more difficult taskmaster than the people that are running Adsense right now, and things would move much slower than they do now, so for those of you who complain about how tough it is to get an account, or to get a site approved, or that you have no direct contact, all I can say is thank your lucky stars that Adsense works as well as it does, and is as lenient as it is.

If it were up to me, 90% of the applications would probably be rejected and 50% of the currently approved accounts would be terminated (with pay of course).

Be thankful for AdSense even if it isn't perfect. They've given you a chance many others may not give you. It's up to you to make the most of that chance, and return the favour to AdSense. Be a good publisher, follow the rules and guidelines, and make good contents of your own.



posted by J. Gracey Stinson

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