Tuesday, June 30, 2015

AdSense, Where's my Payment?

Over the last month or two I think I've seen more payment related questions in the AdSense help forum than ever before. There seems to be a small flood of them, this month alone. Some of the questions have related to the new line entry on the payments page, where Adsense now shows the amount of earnings that have been deducted due to invalid activity (usually accidental clicks, or from "bad" traffic and/or bots - often not the direct fault of the publisher).

Prior to this change when deductions were made, it wasn't noted how much of that deduction was due to invalid clicks. For more on this update to the Payments page, see the recent article on the Inside AdSense Blog.

But the vast majority seem to be "why wasn't my payment issued?" ... these questions have come from publishers world-wide, and many are from publishers that have been collecting payments regularly without any problems.

Most of the publishers have either reached, or exceeded the payment threshold and have long ago entered all the required details to verify their accounts and payment methods. So where is the payment? Why hasn't it been released (issued) this month?

A few of the publishers who qualify for direct contact with AdSense staff have contacted staff and asked that exact question.

A few indicated that the response said their accounts were under investigation and until that was complete, the payment wouldn't be issued.  How long one of these "investigations" takes is anybody's guess. I really don't know, but I would expect for the most part, it isn't going to be "a few days". Anyone that's been around AdSense long enough already knows that there isn't much that AdSense does "quickly".  I would think it wouldn't be a surprise if the investigation took a week or two, or ... unfortunately, even longer than that.

What sort of investigation it is, or why the account was chosen is something else I can't really answer. We do know that all publisher accounts are monitored by AdSense. We also know that when AdSense finds something to be "irregular" in a publisher's account they'll investigate further. (Also see reasons for payment holds in the help center.)
  • Your account is currently under review for compliance with our program policies
    All accounts are monitored for policy compliance and invalid activity. At times, while your account is under investigation, your payments will be temporarily placed on hold. You do not need to contact us about this hold; the hold will be automatically removed at the end of the investigation if your account is policy compliant and your traffic is valid.
Whether that's an odd batch of traffic and/or clicks on ads, or whether it's multiple reports coming in from the website reporting options (such as spam websites, or publisher's spamming groups or people with emails they didn't sign up for, or improper ad placements, etc.) or a payee name change in an account (which isn't allowed), AdSense is going to investigate these issues to make sure the account doesn't become a risk for the advertisers whose ads appear on on our sites.

The bottom line is that nobody can answer for AdSense when it comes to payment issues. If you qualify for direct email support from AdSense you'll be able to access the contact email form in the help center, in which case you can ask for yourself why your payment hasn't been sent.

So far, I haven't personally had to deal with an investigation issue myself, so there isn't much in the way of help that I can offer. I can, however, tell you what I would do if I found myself in this position.
  1. I'd start by looking at my traffic over the last few months: where it came from; the referring sites; checking my promotional methods. Fairly often, bad traffic can be an issue, so that's the place I'd start investigating my own stats.
  2. Then, I'd consider my methods of promotion. Did I hire someone who might have sent spam emails to promote me? Did someone put my site link on a link exchange (cause I surely would not)? If I hired some off-beat SEO firm, the first thing I'd be doing is asking for an exact copy of every single thing they did to promote my site. (Often, these people do things way outside of AdSense policy without telling you.)
  3. Next, I'd review my blogs or websites for content compliance. Is my content original (my own/did I write it myself or copy it?); is any of my content in violation of any policy?; are any of the comments users leave considered spam, or lead to spammy websites?; is my own content sort of spammy and poorly written?
  4. Then, I'd start investigating my own social pages and links. Have I spammed my site/post links all over the web using social services? Have I misused social sharing in some way? Have my personal friends or family gone on a "sharing spree" without telling me (which would only make things worse).

I can tell you that if my own account were under investigation by AdSense, I'd be spending 100% of my time investigating my own site, it's visitors, it's contents, and my own actions to make sure that there wasn't anything "odd" going on.

... I wouldn't be sitting around just waiting for AdSense to finish up.

posted by J. Gracey Stinson

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