Thursday, February 16, 2017

Scam Warning - or Is AdSense a Scam?

Of course AdSense isn't a scam. But this is something we see asked in the forum on a pretty regular basis. If it was a scam, you don't think they'd still be in business do you? AdSense have been one of the most recognized, most trusted (and sometimes most maligned) ad services for over 10 years. You don't have a long-running business like that if you really do perpetrate scams on people.

Having said that, I'm sure a lot of people are thinking "oh sure, you'd say that because you help them" ... well, I don't actually help them. The purpose of the forum isn't to help AdSense, it's to help publishers.

Many of the people who come to the forum yelling "AdSense is a SCAM" have already been paid, multiple times. So the question I ask is ... how is this a scam? Scams don't pay you at all, in fact, scams don't pay anyone. With over 2 million publishers, the majority receiving regular payments, how is it a scam?

It really isn't. A percentage of those yelling "scammer" are the people who are violating policies (some of them on purpose, some of them by accident, or simply because they lack knowledge).  Lots of publishers out there simply don't understand that to get paid, you have to follow the rules. Others don't even realize what the requirements are for AdSense, and fall afoul of the policies by accident, or by signing up with some promotional site that tells them it's safe for AdSense (most aren't, just so you know).

And in any automated system, there are sometimes glitches where an individual might not get their payment issued, but those are usually rare and they can be fixed. For those whose earnings are returned to the advertiser ... there generally isn't a glitch or error. It's also not a scam. It's part of the terms.

Did you read and agree to the Terms & Conditions when you signed up for AdSense? If so, believe it or not, you agreed to abide by AdSense's decisions. Or, did you just click "I agree" without actually reading it? If you are one of the pubs who didn't read that document you might want to take the time to do it, before some ugly surprise shows up in your inbox. It's always smart to know what you are getting into.

Section 5 of the agreement refers to the Payments - here is an excerpt from that section:

5.    Payments
Subject to this Section 5 and Section 10 of these AdSense Terms, you will receive a payment related to the number of valid clicks on Ads displayed on your Properties, the number of valid impressions of Ads displayed on your Properties, or other valid events performed in connection with the display of Ads on your Properties, in each case as determined by Google.  
Unless expressly authorized in writing by Google, you may not enter into any type of arrangement with a third party where that third party receives payments made to you under the Agreement or other financial benefit in relation to the Services.
Payments will be calculated solely based on our accounting. Payments to you may be withheld to reflect or adjusted to exclude any amounts refunded or credited to advertisers and any amounts arising from invalid activity, as determined by Google in its sole discretion.  Invalid activity is determined by Google in all cases and includes, but is not limited to, (i) spam, invalid queries, invalid impressions or invalid clicks on Ads generated by any person, bot, automated program or similar device, including through any clicks or impressions originating from your IP addresses or computers under your control; (ii) clicks solicited or impressions generated by payment of money, false representation, or requests for end users to click on Ads or take other actions; (iii) Ads served to end users whose browsers have JavaScript disabled; and (iv) clicks or impressions co-mingled with a significant amount of the activity described in (i, ii, and iii) above.  
In addition to our other rights and remedies, we may (a) withhold and offset any payments owed to you under the Agreement against any fees you owe us under the Agreement or any other agreement, or (b) require you to refund us within 30 days of any invoice, any amounts we may have overpaid to you in prior periods.  If you dispute any payment made or withheld relating to the Services, you must notify Google in writing within 30 days of any such payment.  If you do not, any claim relating to the disputed payment is waived.  If an advertiser whose Ads are displayed on any Property defaults on payment to Google, we may withhold payment or charge back your account.
To ensure proper payment, you are responsible for providing and maintaining accurate contact and payment information in your Account.  You are responsible for any charges assessed by your bank or payment provider.
 Full Terms & Conditions Link
It's rather interesting to note that many of the people coming to the forum haven't actually read or understood that document, or at least that part of the document.

Over and above all of the foregoing, most people who follow the rules and don't get into any sort of hinky/funky situations will receive their payments regularly. There isn't any scam here, except that perpetrated by those who think it's okay to make money without regard to how you make it. The world has rules ... so does AdSense.

And just so you know, this isn't something that's exclusive to AdSense advertising. All ad companies have rules - some differ from AdSense and may not be quite as strict, while others have rules that are almost identical to AdSense. If you use ads from other companies on your sites along with AdSense, and haven't taken time to read the terms of those other companies ... well, you just might want to take the time to do that. While AdSense is a widely used product, there are many other advertisers whose ads appear on sites along with AdSense. If you use multiple advertising companies, it's always a good idea to check each advertiser's regulations to keep your income stream running smoothly.

AdSense does have appeal options for some publishers, so disabled accounts can often use the appeals process but there is no appeal for temporarily suspended accounts, and as far as I know, there isn't any way to appeal earnings that have been removed (for invalid activity) and returned to the advertiser.

The terms state:
If you dispute any payment made or withheld relating to the Services, you must notify Google in writing within 30 days of any such payment.
As far as I can tell, that isn't part of the appeal process and most likely, you would need to send that notice by regular postal services to AdSense, since there generally isn't an email address to send it to. The address shown at the bottom of the terms page is the only contact they give. See: Google Contact Options

posted by J. Gracey Stinson


  1. Heh heh. I watched a friend click an advert (and went on to buy something) on my blog. Did it ever register as income? Nope! Following that, suspicious, I clicked am advert on a store demo computer. Did it register as a click? Nope! I also look at the difference in hits claimed by Adsense as views and by my blog site. Big difference. Something seems fishy about Adsense. I used to get $100 a year from it but haven't got past $20 this past two years. It's like I'm carry adverts but am not getting credited.

    1. So you "watched" a friend click the ad ... meaning you were with this friend?

      Earnings have certainly gone down in the last 2 years for a lot of publishers, not just you, and part of it is the advertisers themselves getting smarter about how much they'll pay for what.

      The schoolbus blogs you have is pretty interesting. The other one might have less appeal with "news" things that aren't news at all (like Canon/Nikon merge, an April Fools stunt that's been around a long time ... particularly when you have it coming off as true. It isn't. I own 5 Nikon DLSRs, and 3 older Nikon film cameras and assorted lenses ...and am subscribed to their news releases). While some of us might find that funny, I'm not sure advertisers will, particularly Nikon, Canon or Sony.

      Not to mention the fact that anything that seems to be news, and is fake (without pointing out that it actually IS fake in the article) is being cracked down on by Google and by Adsense.

      Beyond those few things (since I didn't read your blogs fully or know anything about your traffic), it isn't just the quality of the content that matters anymore - while that's important, the quality of traffic makes a difference too.

    2. Yes, I was with my friend who usually reads my blogs. The comment was "ooh, look at that" and off my friend went to the advert and... bought something.

      I just find Adsense of such questionable worth these days since income has plummeted. If it were not for the carrot of having $30 accrued already, I'd just strip Adsense off my blogs.

      My photography blogs get far more traffic than the bus blog. Those two are or used to be auto blasted via twitter. I don't even know if the twitter accounts or the blasting services are still running. I never look. Been years since I bothered with twitter.

      In terms of traffic I get combined across 3 blogs, per month (well, last month) 7,500 pageviews. Income last month... 22c and income so far this month... 1c.

      As soon as I get to the Magic $100 and get paid, I'm dumping Adsense. It's utterly worthless for me these days. I'm not going to change my blogging topics or blogging style. I'll try to inject humor and put in an occasional risqué blog headline or an April 1st gag but I'm not changing anything in order to chase after the mythical Adsense dollars that don't exist.


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