Google’s Click Fraud Bot Did Not Get The Email

    August 13, 2007

At WebMasterWorld, yet another story of an AdSense publisher who was banned on suspicion of click fraud. This happens all the time (I get comments from banned publishers on random posts), but what makes this infuriating is that the publisher knew there might be a problem, emailed Google, got permission, and got screwed anyway.

The publisher in question is a guy who runs an internet cafe, as well as a number of websites. The guy came up with a smart idea: Make a default start page for all the computers in his cafe and load the page with links to his websites, AdSense and AdSense for Search. According to him, the AdSense for Search made a decent $10-20 a day, due to his customers using it to search on Google (an obviously popular activity on any computer).

The problem, which he anticipated, was that all the clicks would be coming from the same IP address. Not just the same IP, but all in the same room, at a farm of computers all next to each other. It could just as easily be a click fraud farm as an internet cafe, and the moment Google’s click fraud detection measures saw it, he’d be shut down. So he did the smart thing and emailed Google, explaining what would happen and asking them if he’d be okay. They said yes.

Didn’t matter. The click fraud bot still shut him down. Despite him having express permission from Google (not always an easy thing), his account was still banned and his earnings confiscated. This demonstrates a common problem with these sort of detection systems, be they for AdSense or YouTube; they don’t flag accounts with mitigating circumstances and require an intelligent human being review them before the account is deleted or banned.

I make a living off AdSense, as well as a few other ad programs. Something goes wrong, I won’t be able to pay my rent next month. I’d like to hope that my AdSense rep is protecting me from a dangerous ban that could completely screw me up for several weeks or months, but it looks like the system has no such protections.

I could always try calling Google customer service. I crack me up.

(via Barry)