Though I am a heavy user of Google products, about one or two years ago our relationship was fantastic – we were in a honeymoon of sorts. I am still using their products to the point where I am almost dependent, but now they upped the ante with a wonderful card:
Yet there is trouble in paradise.
- The envelope arrived opened and with some black fingerprints on it.
- After salivating over the red envelope for a while, sniffing it and reminiscing of Google’s punane, I mustered the rock solid, penetrating courage to open it, read it and go through the disclaimers and conditions. I thus found out that the offer is valid only for new AdWords accounts. Bummer! I already had one. It’s not even the first time Google is sending me such offers, if only I open a new Adwords account.
- A few months ago, after receiving the 4th or 5th such offer by email, I encouraged a friend to open a new account, which she did from my computer. I did not think that would be a problem, since Google is so omniscient (especially after acquiring Doubleclick), that it’s impossible to accept that they didn’t know I already had an Adword account with them – it is, after all, tied to the same email as my Adsense account. Much to my surprise, Google listed all the accounts I have ever logged on to my friend, including the account of a client who had registered a domain with me and asked me to login with her credentials so that I can set up their Google Apps. Now THAT was scary.
There is a very simple reason why I have been reluctant to ever touch either Adsense or Adwords again: Google has abused my trust. They’ve found a backdoor to my soul and enlarged it with rage and dark malevolence until it shrivelled and fell on the ground like a used condom.
Not long after signing up for Adsense, I got the following email from them:
from Google AdSense <email@example.com>
date Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 3:29 AM
subject Google AdSense Account Disabled
While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense
account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers. Since
keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage
our advertisers in the future, we've decided to disable your account.
Please understand that we consider this a necessary step to protect the
interests of both our advertisers and our other AdSense publishers. We
realize the inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you in
advance for your understanding and cooperation.
If you have any questions about your account or the actions we've
taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information
The Google AdSense Team
Not the most flattering gift.. Following this, I read that Google Help item and appealed the decision of the unknown Hydra, stating:
- I have spent over $100 with AdWords and only had less than $10 AdSense earnings – hardly the profile of a AdSens-ophile rapist.
- I access the Internet from IPs shared with people who know my websites and even though I asked them not to, they might click my ads every now and then.
- Some of the other bloggers in one of my small ethnic niche were morons who felt that blogging is about who’s muscling who out of the market and they may have abused my ads
Almost instantly upon submitting my request for re-evaluation (suggesting that they did not bother reconsidering), I receive this:
from Google AdSense <firstname.lastname@example.org>
sender-time Sent at 2:53 PM (UTC). Current time there: 10:07 PM.
date Fri, Mar 28, 2008 at 2:53 PM
subject Re: [#257397465] Appeal Form Submitted
Thanks for providing us with additional information. However, after
thoroughly reviewing your account data and taking your feedback into
consideration, we've re-confirmed that your account poses a significant
risk to our advertisers. For this reason, we're unable to reinstate your
account. Thank you for your understanding.
As a reminder, if you have any questions about your account or the actions
we've taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more
information by visiting
The Google AdSense Team
After dropped out of the warm AdSense Team placenta twice, I gave up on Google and removed AdSense from most of my websites. Shortly thereafter, I received the following:
from Google AdSense <email@example.com>
sender-time Sent at 5:33 PM (UTC). Current time there: 10:09 PM.
date Thu, Jun 5, 2008 at 5:33 PM
subject [#290888281] Google AdSense Account Reinstated
We previously sent you an email stating that your AdSense account had been
disabled due to invalid click activity. After thoroughly re-reviewing your
AdSense account, we've decided to reverse this decision and reinstate your
account. Please note that there may be a delay before ads start running on
your website, as it may take up to 48 hours before all of our servers are
informed of the change.
If, upon the disabling of your account, we made a deduction on your
remaining account balance, then we've credited back to your account any
earnings we found to be valid. While this credit wouldn't appear
immediately in your reports, it would be reflected in your finalized
earnings for this month once they're posted to your Payment History Page
during the first week of next month. After this time, if you have any
questions regarding this credit, please feel free to reply to this email.
We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience. If you
have any questions, please visit our Help Center at
http://www.google.com/adsense/support, or contact us at
http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/request.py. Thanks for your
interest in the AdSense program.
The Google AdSense Team
I did not bother looking for a credit and if there was one, it was hard to notice. As I already mentioned, my earnings were below $10.
When faced with an injustice, apart from wanting it corrected, what we usually want to know is “why?”. Sure, we might get short-changed at the neighbourhood grocery store, we could come back home early one day and find our spouse in 69 with someone else, often of the same sex, but we’d like to think that Google is not evil and we can love it and they will love us back. Yet despite their declarations & noble intentions and even this major abuse notwithstanding, Google fails short of its stated goals.
The natural progression of excellence in business is almost always toward monopoly. Near-monopoly is a reward the market bestows upon those sufficiently adept to raise far above their competition through superior products & services, through and cunning. “Not being evil” ultimately translates in keeping high standards of customer service, since it is unreasonable to expect a corporation to forego profits ad infinitum.
Such orientation to customer service must be achieved through improved communication. Banning AdSense customers for no reason and refusing to provide an explanation is not exactly “non-evil”. And this is not the only instance where Google remains cold & undying. Everytime I had a problem with Feedburner, Blogger or any other Google service and posted, as they require, to the appropriate Google Group, I’ve never received an answer from a Google person, only from other users like me, and many times from nobody. In contrast, whenever I contacted Microsoft, for tech support, the answers were fast and courteous.
Such treatment raises significant concerns, almost to the point of a panic attack. What if Google decides to ban my Gmail account or my blogs in a similar manner, without due process? What if my back-up strategy (instituted shortly after the aforementioned incident) malfunctions? What if some Google employee is angered by this article and meticulously proceeds to erase any trace of my digital existence?
luke, [you’ve become] your father
Simply by virtue of their growing size, Google becomes more and more the CIA parent they abhorred when they were little and painstakingly searching for funding. The sheer number of their customers makes one-on-one service rather impractical. Just look at the ascension of their stock below!
They should be trying much harder to explain their decisions and, whenever mistakes are made, try to make some kind of amends. “We have decided to let you back in, now STFU and suck it” is not good enough.
It may seem crazy to “criticize” Google while still using their services. Yet despite its relatively benign approach to competition, Google has achieved a level of market dominance that almost excludes the possibility of boycott. Not only that I am not boycotting them, but I continue to recommend their products and services to others. Openly discussing their shortcomings can only serve to help them improve.
Take, for instance, this very poor instance of ad targeting, displaying a cosmetic lip enhancement ad on a website of story-telling for kids:
In the ad improperly displayed on another foreign-language website, a seemingly Dutch company offers Risk Management services on a Romanian blog.
As an AdWords customer, I am appalled to see such gross “mis(s)-targetings” seem to happen on a regular basis. Furthermore, I am concerned that the $100 I spent on this service before realizing it’s more or less a waste have most likely evaporated in click fraud.
Rather than dealing with any more such accusations of fraud – which I cannot defend since I do not know where they are coming from and what they consist of – I decided to simply block Adsense on all the IPs where I share access with friends or people who know me and my websites, even though I no longer display AdSense anywhere.
Here’s a direct quote from wikipedia on Adsense ills:
Due to concerns about click fraud, 'Google AdSense' has been criticized by some search engine optimization firms as a large source of what Google calls "invalid clicks", in which one company clicks on a rival's search engine advertisements to drive up the other company's costs.
To help prevent click fraud, AdSense publishers can choose from a number of click-tracking programs. These programs display detailed information about the visitors who click on the AdSense advertisements. Publishers can use this to determine whether or not they have been a victim of click fraud. There are a number of commercial tracking scripts available for purchase.
The payment terms for webmasters have also been criticized. Google withholds payment until an account reaches US$100, but many micro content providers require a long time—years in some cases—to build up this much AdSense revenue. However, Google will pay all earned revenue greater than US$10 when an AdSense account is closed.
Many website owners complain that their AdSense accounts have been disabled just before they were supposed to receive their first paycheck from Google. Google claims accounts have been disabled due to click fraud.
Google came under fire when the official Google AdSense Blog showcased the French video website Imineo.com. This website violated Google's AdSense Program Policies by displaying AdSense alongside sexually explicit material. Typically, websites displaying AdSense have been banned from showing such content. Some sites have been banned for distributing copyrighted material even when they hold the copyright themselves or are authorized by the copyright holder to distribute the material.
It has been reported that using both AdSense and AdWords may cause a website to pay Google a commission when the website advertises itself.
In some cases, AdSense displays inappropriate or offensive ads. For example, in a news story about a terrorist attack in India, an advert was generated for a (presumably non-existent) educational qualification in terrorism.
This particular quote has all the info you crave, grasshopper.
I’m thinking to resend this card to whomever wants it. From now until March 1, 2009, tell me one thing you hate about Google services and why you’re sticking with them in spite of that and the most compelling storyteller will get the card in the mail (you will have to provide me with your mailing address via Facebook or other means in case you win). If nobody’s interested, I might as well send it along in postcrossings.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody, and especially those who were ever suspended for no reason and with no explanation!
Sources / More info: google-watch, wiki-google-criticism, gw-eweek, 3rd-p, wiki-adsense, webmasterworld-adsense, abuse-adsense, dig-point-oc, google-abuse-notification, eHow-adsense, banned-adsense, adsense-protection, adwords-unbanned, adwords-banned, adsense-ban, NSA-windows, targetare-arhi, yt-google-luv