Like many, many folks the world over, I've taken to using Google as my one-stop shop for Web elements. Ads through AdSense, advertising through AdWords, and analytics through Google Analytics. The tools are very well designed, fast, and provide just about everything I need for the small collection of sites that collectively handle maybe a few thousand hits a day.
In fact, just two weeks ago, I received my first check from Google for $124 -- representing over a year of their ads displayed on my low-traffic sites.
So imagine my surprise when my account was disabled last Thursday. From the email:
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.
Wow. I've received a smackdown from Google. I should be chastened. The problem is that I have absolutely no idea what they're talking about.
This happened last week, apparently. I can't log into my AdSense account, and I haven't logged in for weeks, so I'm completely in the dark there. Google won't tell me what has happened, so I can only guess that this is all a big mistake, or someone's gaming me. After all, how hard would it be to write a script that transits one or more sites running Google ads on the same account, and clicks all the ad links? Not terribly challenging. What would the end result be? Google would shut down the account, apparently. Now, I have no idea if that's what happened here, but when you're erroneously accused of click fraud, you start to think about things like that.
I've filled out Google's dispute form, and we'll see how that goes. They cautioned me that it may be 48 hours or more before I get a response. Judging by when they disabled the account, the supposed malfeasance occurred while I was in the middle of a road trip. I was orchestrating major surgery on a large network -- two nights of Cisco Catalyst 6509 core replacements. Believe me, I didn't have time to bother with nonsense like this. Heck, I didn't even notice the account was disabled for four days.
Regardless of the outcome of this dispute resolution, I realize now that I'm not going to be so Google-gung-ho in the future. For the past few years, using Google's tools for Web development, advertising and monitoring has seemed to be a no-brainer. Easy, simple, fast... who wouldn't use them?
I think I'm starting to realize the answer to that question -- what happens when they decide they don't like you?