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Well, so much for THAT

August 13, 2011 07:41

You might have noticed that there are no more ads on the site. That is, assuming you noticed them in the first place. For the last several years I've had google adsense ads on my page as a way to hopefully pay for at least SOME of the expenses of the site. I have at times dreamed of writing an enormous number of documents and living off of the ad revenue resulting from those pages. My attemps to do so have not been entirely in vain,and over the last few years I have shown great progress in developing content rich pages, the kind that advertisers love, since they help promote products that they're trying to sell. Links from those pages have a better than decent chance in resulting in sales. This is a good thing for everyone.

Unless... of course, people click on ads for the wrong reasons. What might be the wrong reasons, you ask? Well, there are three possibilities. The first would be outright clickfraud. That would be me, or people working on my behalf, clicking the ads on my site to boost the revenue I receive from those clicks. The second possibility would be a well intentioned, yet moronic, visitor to the site who did likewise, thinking that his efforts would somehow help me financially. The third possibility is that someone with a malicious bent did the same thing, knowing what the outcome might be. And what is that outcome? Why it would be the termination of my adsense account and my permanent ban from adsense in the future for not only THIS site, but ANY site which I own.

Yeah. What a bummer.

See, here's the problem. Fradulent clicks hurt everyone. They hurt the advertiser, because there was no chance that click would result in a sale, yet he had to pay for it just the same. It hurts google, since advertisers won't be willing to pay as much for advertising since the ROI is less. And they hurt the publishers, because the diluted clicks are worth less. Of course, this was clearly not MY fault. I didn't encourage this in any way. In fact, I don't discuss the ads at all. Up until now I've said not a peep about it, as Google's TOS requires. If someone did send a bunch of invalid clicks to my site, they clearly did so without my consent or desire. Trust me, they did me no favors.

So was it a malicious action? Probably not. See, Google has their fingers in a lot of different pies. And they no doubt track EVERYTHING. Everytime you visit a page with a google ad, you can bet that google knows about it. They know you were on that page, and they know what other pages you look at as well. Ignoring all of the privacy issues, this is actually quite helpful. They can use that information to determine ads which you would be more likely to click on based on your own personal interests. They can even match up your search history and POSSIBLY even your gmail content to feed you the most relevant ads. Does that sound a bit scary? Well, maybe. But hey, at least the ads you see will be something that might interest you. The important thing here is, they would be able to tell the difference between someone who just recently showed up and tried to clickbomb me, vs someone who's clearly been a regular on the site for a while, then suddenly starts clicking on all of the ads... and then not following through on any of them.

Of course, google provies NO information on this to me. I don't know who did it, I don't know if it was a lot of people, I don't know their intent, and I don't even know for sure if there WERE any fraudlent clicks. This could have been nothing more than a recent uptick in clicks due to a recent uptick in popularity. This isn't information I'm allowed to have, even as a memeber in good standing (which I no longer am). I'm just going to assume, if it was malicious, Google would figure that out and just discount the clicks. Instead, it probably looked like it was orchestrated from within. And that's really sad.

I've got a pending appeal on this right now. This news entry probably won't help that any, but I'm already making contingency plans anyway. For now, assuming this was just the actions of a misguided soul, let me lay out a few things for everyone. If you want to compensate a website owner, do one or more of the following: donate money, donate equipment, participate in the social aspects of the site, purchase merchandise, buy a membership, etc. Do NOT just click on random ads thinking that will help. It absolutely won't under any circumstances. And it can very well hurt more than you know. The ONLY time you should click on an ad is if you are genuinely interested in the product or service that the ad is offering. That doesn't mean you have to buy something. Nobody expects a 100% conversion rate. Just be sure your interest is in good faith.

Thankfully, I have not spent much time developing pages that weren't useful to the site anyway, and this will have the unintented, but potentially useful side effect of kickstarting other projects which I've let languish. I've got several developments which have been on hold mostly because I've been worried about the up-front expense. No longer. I'm going to blow some cash and get some of these things started. I'll be building several toys and/or appliances that tech junkies will find interesting. It might be a failure, but I'm tired of messing around.