Someone lives next door to you, that gets their account banned? Your account gets banned.
You move into an apartment that had a previous resident 6 years ago, whose account got banned 2 years ago? Your account gets banned.
CTR too low on some test you are running? Your account gets banned.
Ad does not pass review and you forget and try it again in 3 months? Your account gets banned.
One day you are going to log in and see this message...
You're only option will be to make as much noise as you can about it, until someone at Google sees it on HN.
For the rest of us, we get screwed.
On a side note, Google cares so much about the communication between the client and the AdWords team, that email coming from AdWords often makes it right into the Gmail spam folder (100% in my case). They don't even bother white-listing it! That's where I found the reply for my plea for un-suspension.
That's a nice thought, but is not practical to me.
I ran ads (just some tests for a day or two, every 4-6 months) for one of my websites that provides a software control panel that manages web-server components and allows you to create websites (kind of like CPanel but for Windows).
This was the "landing page" (a PR5/PR6 page, since 2003):
This is the response I received back from AdWords team...
I confirm that your site has been flagged for unacceptable business
practices and was consequently disabled.
In response to multiple complaints received from users and publishers
about this category of ads, our policies no longer allow sites that
promote low-quality affiliate advertisements, the sale of free items, and
other business models about which we've received multiple complaints.
At this time, it's Google's policy to not accept ads that make
unverifiable, misleading claims about income opportunities for low risk
and minimal effort. Read more about this specific policy at:
Thank you for your cooperation.
The Google AdWords Team
The best I could come up with was that someone at AdWords decided that my application was immaterial, and that I was instead selling Apache, PHP, and MySQL.
So I contacted them again...
I do understand your point of view and apologize for any inconvenience
this may cause, but unfortunately we cannot provide any further
assistance in this matter. Google’s primary objective is to provide
safe, relevant experiences for our users. The decision to suspend your
account was made after careful review of your account and the low
quality landing page experiences promoted through your ads.
Please refrain from creating any new accounts, as they will be subject
to the same suspension. For privacy reasons, AdWords Support is unable
to provide any additional information regarding this account.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
The Google AdWords Team
I think what does it for me - all of the promotional text about "building your own website" which indicates that you want to trick naive people that they need your software to run a web server. Instead you should focus on "advanced configuration tools for WAMP servers" and promote all of the things that your software does, without touting the basic WAMP functionality as your own.
(*subliminal message - it's like a bright sun rising from the east, shining down rays, giving life to websites)
It is almost invisible text, a strong spam indicator for Google's robot. Maybe you were banned for suspicious web design?
And it wasn't my website that was banned, but rather the AdWords account was permanently suspended. Google's crawlers/robots have no issue with my website.
> (*subliminal message - it's like a bright sun rising from the east, shining down rays, giving life to websites)
I just noticed one day that the boxshot was the color of the sun (yellow), and is displayed on the right side of the website, which is east, and is the direction where the sun rises each day. I thought it was fitting, considering the sun gives life, and the product does the same for websites.
I used to use AdWords on my own site, and my account was frozen because of "click-fraud". A few enterprising users on an unrelated forum decided to click my ads repeatedly, to support my OSS project. As a result I was denied the $10 of "legitimate clicks"
Any attempt to launch an appeal and contact Google seemed like the message was sent to their spam folder, and ignored.
Essentially committing fraud. The issue in this post is his AdWords account was banned because of x,y,z reason but not because of to many clicks. They probably saw the $100 credit beding used for affiliate direct linking and flagged the account.
Just as an aside I have 13GB on dropbox now and got the additional storage by using the technique outlined in the article. My biggest difference was that the account was seasoned and I was spending my own money, not google coupon money.
Anyway, I agree that these users were committing fraud, but why ban me? I didn't condone (or even know) what they were doing until after the fact. The correct thing for AdSence to do here is to identify the offending IP addresses, cancel the credit accumulated by said IPs, and let me continue supporting the program on my site.
Because, explicitly or implicitly, something you were doing was encouraging people to defraud advertisers through your website. The way to stop this is to eliminate the cause (the person/site encouraging the fraud) not the symptom (today's batch of site visitors). Multiple people don't start engaging in multi-day click fraud behavior randomly -- something sets it off, something as innocuous as a forum post encouraging it or text near the ad that says "this project supported by ad clicks" -- but there has to be a catalyst, and that's the thing they're putting an end to by suspending an account.
That's a pretty bad thing to say about someone without any proof whatsoever. If users decide to 'help' you that does not automatically mean that you 'explicitly or implicitly' encouraged them to do so. People will do the strangest things without any prompting.
Technically this exposes a weakness in Google's program, after all any competitor could do this to you resulting in the banning of your account.
I've tried to sign-up since and I don't get any errors, but I never get my acceptance email and Google won't ever respond to my queries.
Adsense is mostly a ripoff anyway. There are much better ways to monetize your traffic.
I'm presuming this is because the good ad networks don't need to look for sites to display on, but I haven't found anything else that's as good as AdSense. (And due to TOS, we can't run AdSense.)
The network ran trials of using Google ads on certain pages, and some did OK $10k per page per month (on popular pages). But at the end of the day that barely covers costs of running the network.
Google can't supply the cross medium advertising either, so most agencies are more than happy to pay the extra $24.60/cpm to actually get to the desired markets. The old saying "you get what you pay for" really sums it up really.
I decided on whim to try AdWords for a couple of clickbank products. Apparently one of them was against the TOS though I was not aware of it at the time. I haven't read the TOS but since both of my ads where approved I figured everything was OK. I run these two ads for 4 hours and shut them down. One of the ads got maybe 2 clicks and couple of dozen impressions, the second ad had no impressions and no clicks. I paused the campaign after 4 hours. A year and a half later I receive an email from Adwords notifying me that my account has been suspended for running ads against the TOS.
Talking to support was like talking to a brick wall.
I am fairly certain that the only reason I got banned was because I left these ads on pause and didn't actually delete them. They probably run a scan at some point looking for ads that infringe the TOS and picked me up. It's entirely possible that these ads weren't against the TOS at the time I set up the campaign but well, it's Google so there is no one to talk to.
I didn't need to use AdWords since but I probably will at some point so it certainly sucks for me.
I haven't used it in 4 years, however one of the domains I was advertising is still mine, but just goes to an error page now. Will check this out!
Unlike your experience, it happened to me so fast it made my head spin. I called support, and they said they couldn't even talk to me because my account was banned. I emailed an explanation to start their appeals process, and was shot down incredibly fast.
I really need an account now, but I'm not allowed to... So yep--it does suck to be us.
After contacting Adwords support I received this response:
"Our support team is unable to provide any further information. Please do not contact us again."
I ran a campaign for a website for medical school students. Absolutely harmless and as far as I can tell in full compliance with the ToS! I can only assume that whoever checked/scanned the ad assumed I must be advertising medical items (which I was not).
Tell us how you really feel about your users, google...
I do understand that they are faced with gobs and gobs of fraud and scam-artists. I get it. However, if the problem is so large that they must hurt honest people on a regular basis in order to deal with the bad guys I think they are in over their heads.
It might be far smarter to have an open process where Google throttles down your account until you fix problems. And, yes, they'd have to tell you what is wrong so you can address it. Some might argue that this will simply give scam-artists and abusers more insight into how to game the system. Another way to look at it is that, if honest people follow the guidelines those gaming the system will become far more visible and, Google would be able to focus on new mutations of the bad-guy gene to stomp them out.
In other words, tell me what I am doing wrong and restrict my account to n ads per day/week/month for three months until I fix x,y,z. Don't hit me over the head with a sledge hammer and wave good-bye forever.
Imagine what would have happened if there were 40 competing companies in the market looking for user support.
I'm not sure why you are giving Google an excuse (too large to work with clients). The amount of money they make from serving ads is in the billions and they've had ample opportunity to spend some of that to improve their client relationship and feedback loops... But choose not to.
That being said, no one stays on top forever, and as they grow, even a small bit of discontent can grow even faster.
Just a couple of links from a couple of different angles: Integrated brand measurements, consumer NPS, best place to work
http://www.satmetrix.com/company/press-and-news/pr-archive/p... (In the online search and information category, Google and Facebook led again with scores of 53% and 52% respectively)
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/best-companies/2012/f... (Top of the list of best place to work for)
Many are hopeful that Microsoft can start to really innovate again now that the consent decree has recently expired.
Microsoft did get but a slap on the wrist, and rightly so. Though it's worth noting that had Microsoft received the punishment so many sought -- the breaking up of the company -- the parts would almost certainly be worth much more than the whole right now.
Microsoft's problems are Microsoft-created. Like RIM, Microsoft was more focused on entrenching the status quo than planning for the future.
Popunders, exploits, bring-your-browser-to-a-crawl ads that spurred a massive move to ad blockers.
This submission is poised to bring out everyone with a chip on their shoulder about Google or Adwords, but the reality is that Google's ad quality control is one of the primary reasons they have been successful. Further I am skeptical of the innocence of so many.
In this particular case, the outcome seems obvious -- it was an abuse of the free ads coupons. Simply thinking through it made the end result inevitable.
I put my OWN money into the account. I also didn't set low bid limits. Actually, my bids were high enough that they came in much lower than I anticipated.
The reasoning was simple: I was paying Google for some benefit. Using a free coupon is simply taking advantage of Google for your own benefit, and that's not fair to Google -- it's absolutely one-sided.
Google does not like affiliate marketing via their advertising services. This is because they feel the best user experience is one whereby the user goes directly to the merchant without an intermediary padding out the middle of the process, and/or competing with the genuine advertiser and artificially inflating the number of ads attributed to a single end-merchant.
So in a nut shell, if you don't want your account banned, advertise your own unique thing that is of value in and of its own right and can stand alone without any further affiliate links. If you're offering something of value and it indirectly may lead a visitor to an affiliate link, that's ok, but it can't be the point of the ad. Google were burned by this early in the days of Adwords and customers were routinely led down the affiliate path, which caused serious quality issues in the ads they served up, hence the current ToS.
I ran AdWords ads with real money to advertise my Dropbox referral code, and everything went dandy (cost about $20 in ad credit).
ADDITION IN RESPONSE TO FIRST REPLY:
It is, of course, unusual for most people to read in detail most contracts they agree to. When you buy an airline ticket, you agree to a contract that is in very small print on the ticket itself or on the webpage where you agree to buy the ticket, and much of the small print refers to national laws or international treaties that you probably don't bother to read. But if a particular business sets up terms that are off-putting to customers, a smart competing business may be able to figure out ways to offer better terms (more megabytes for less money, no restrictions on reselling, or whatever fits the transaction) and then advertise those terms to customers to gain market share from the first business. As long as new market entrants can set up their own agreements in a free market, the equilibrium of actual setting and enforcement of contract terms will be expected to provide consumer utility and opportunity for the business to profit. Again, that's freedom of contract. You don't have to do business with any business that offers you terms you actively dislike. If you don't think the terms are perfect or "fair," but the trade-off offered in the terms helps you do what you want to do, you may still agree to the terms.
The ToS for most services nowadays are extremely draconian and one-sided. The vast majority of the time, service providers don't bother exercising the rights they've reserved to themselves. If you try to live strictly within the safe zone of the ToS of every service you use, you'll be crippled. You either live a little bit dangerously, or you go home and hide under the bed. When someone does run afoul of Google's wrath (or whatever other service provider), often it's not because they did something unusually bad, it's simply that they had the bad luck to get noticed.
Let me use speed limits as an analogy. It's not uncommon (speaking for the U.S.) to find a highway with a posted speed limit of X MPH, and most traffic driving at X+5 or so. A police officer typically won't pull you over for driving X+5 in that situation, but technically you're breaking the law, and if they do pull you over, you'll probably wind up paying the ticket.
The situation with common ToS's is that the road is safe for up to 80 MPH, and most people are going 60, but the posted speed limit is 3 MPH. The police (service provider) can, at their whim, nail whoever they like for going 20 times the limit.
What's sad about this is that the situation does not incent good behavior, it incents keeping your head down.
In the really-real world you often do have to use businesses whose terms you actively dislike due to de facto monopoly, collusion between big players, etc.
I hate Time Warner, but they are the only viable ISP that serves my area -- what am I going to do in protest of hating them, go Internet-dark at home? Yeah I could do that without, you know, dying or anything, but I'm not going to, so I grin and bear it and hope they don't "alter the deal any further".
As many in the comments have said, bans have often come from AdWords either misunderstanding or disagreeing with them on the nature of their business.
How about it, Google, if you don't like me using several adwords accounts, don't spam me with your coupons?
What I did was leave a comment in their feedback asking that they stop sending me the coupons. "All you're doing is tempting me to use them against TOS"
A few months later I received in the mail a $100 voucher usable with existing accounts.
It seems clever, but ultimately dishonest. More dishonest to google than to dropbox I suppose.
Although account storage overhead could be a large factor (eg full version history with binaries etc)
From Dropbox's point of view, yes people seem to be exploiting them in a way - but I think that the space they give away is not significant to the number of people out there who are doing this marketing for them on their behalf.
To Google though I don't think I did anything wrong:
- I learnt adwords and would have considered using it again as I learnt the reach was tremendous for the price.
- Even using a coupon, my bidding on adwords keeps the value higher so the overall market price of ads is higher. This has been a theorized reason why $100 Google adwords coupons are so easy to get.
that said, many marketing departments dont think things through thoroughly enough...
Google is trying to attract real customers not people who want to game the system at Google's expense. No money was ever paid, it was all done using a promo voucher.
The adwords account was specifically and exclusively set up so a dropbox account could be extended.
I am sure if you wanted to do some real advertising Google would reinstate the account.
You run a site, you offer stuff to people to go out and market your product for you, they do so - as long as they didn't do it by creating fake accounts, what's the problem?
is affiliate marketing banned in googles ToS?
For those who still want to use PPC for Dropbox referrals, consider Microsoft adCenter, which has a much friendlier policy towards affiliate marketers.
Honestly, the ToS and whatever access-wall Google puts up to make the process actually work is quite astonishingly bad, but as long as everybody sucks on that teet, there will not be an improvement.
Why don't they limit the supply of the "free $100 of advertising" coupons if they don't intend to follow-through?
The main problem I face to actually pay for something is that is that I don't have an international credit card, and I live in Argentina. I won't pay my bank $300 AR$ a year just to get one, which I'll barely use.
The whole point of the free credit is so that businesses can try our their service with the possibility of buying their own credit afterwards. You're not using it as intended so they would appear to me to be well in their rights to block you.
There seem to be a lot of 'horror stories' cropping up, most seem to be from obscure blogs or websites, where they are going against the TOS or abusing the system to some degree. As someone who spends money on Adwords I like the fact they are filtering these types of users out.
He also doesn't complain about it, but explains how it makes sense from Googles point of view.
They simply haven't banned your account. You've been suspended, happens to many people. If you appeal to them and start following their TOS, you'll be fine.
When you do contact them, and you use gmail, make sure to check your junk/spam folder for their reply (mine was there).
Most businesses prefer to actually work with their customers, listen, and have a dialogue. Google's insular behavior goes all the way up the food chain to how Page behaves and operates.
If it were a matter of 1 user creating multiple accounts then they'd have a legitimate reason for closing the account. However, it doesn't sound like that's what's happening. It sounds like they're punishing people for using their coupon in a way they hadn't intended.
Or maybe Google actually has a difficult problem they are dealing with, which is a market with endless ranks of scammers and shady con artists (some of whom will colour their story to make them a victim, posting it in HN).
If this weren't a problem we could have a Hacker News "free ad" board (with "free" meaning "at the cost of other advertisers". Due to the bid system free ad coupons cost Google next to nothing) where people could post their pet site and hundreds of people could use some or all of their "free" $100 to yield tens of thousands in free ads.
I went from 2.2GB --> 10.2GB in a few days doing this during my break.
There's plenty companies who deserve your abuse. Dropbox is not one of them.