Why Google Adsense Is A Bad Primary Source Of Revenue

I just recently had my Google Adsense account disabled after having it been active for over eight long years.

The reason?

Google sent me one of those canned auto emails below:

–>

Hello,

After reviewing our records, we’ve determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity. Because we have a responsibility to protect our AdWords advertisers from inflated costs due to invalid activity, we’ve found it necessary to disable your AdSense account. Your outstanding balance and Google’s share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers.

Please understand that we need to take such steps to maintain the effectiveness of Google’s advertising system, particularly the advertiser-publisher relationship. We understand the inconvenience that this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions or concerns about the actions we’ve taken, how you can appeal this decision, or invalid activity in general, you can find more information by visiting
http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

–>

What do they mean by my account “poses” a risk of invalid activity?  I think basically it means that I have not violated anything, but my account poses some sort of risk of generating bogus clicks.  The email doesn’t even tell me which of the dozens of sites I have running Adsense ads is causing the risk.  But Google is known for not telling much of anything when they ban advertisers and publishers.

At first when I saw this email, I was a bit annoyed.  But after a few minutes I just chuckled because I couldn’t believe how badly Google treats their advertisers, publishers and customers.  It could be very easy for one of my competitors to come to one of my web sites and generate bogus clicks on the Adsense ads.  Would that be my fault?

Since my Google Adsense commissions generated about 0.000001% of my yearly revenues, it really doesn’t mean anything to my overall online business.

Now, if you are using Google Adsense as your primary source of online revenue, then you better think twice about switching over to a better revenue model.

With a business model revolving around Google Adsense, you have absolutely no control.  They can literally shut you down overnight whether you are making $1 or $100,000 a year in Adsense commissions.

I have heard horror stories of people having their Adsense account shut down and losing tens of thousands of dollars in commissions (Google doesn’t bother sending you any past commissions).

Over my long Internet marketing career, I learned that the best way to build a successful online business is around a model that gives you a lot of control.

I love paid traffic because it is controllable and predictable.

I create my and sell my own products because I control the front-end and the entire back-end.

I have built dozens of email lists in various markets because I want to have control over my prospects and my customers.

You can’t have any of that if your business model revolves around another company or individual that can close you down.

My advice:

1. Buy targeted traffic

2. Build an email list (if anyone tells you that email is dead, get off their list!)

3. Sell your own products (that add value) to your email list.

Build a business around this business model and I guarantee you will be successful.

Does it require a lot of work?

Yes!  There are no push button solutions to building a long sustainable business.  Just dedication, persistence, motivation and good old fashion hard work.

I think having my Adsense account may be a blessing.  It will allow me to work on other parts of my business that are more rewarding and profitable.

If you are currently making money with Google Adsense, you should continue to work on it – but only as a supplimental source of revenue (i.e. filling in excess ad inventory).

You never know when you might get the same email.

Feel free to share your own Adsense story.

Cheers

Gauher Chaudhry

111 comments

  1. Sam: I use VISA gift cards.

    Cheers
    Gauher

  2. Hey man I always love reading your posts cuz they tell it like it is. You’ve always talked alot about paid traffic cause you’re in control all the time and you can track everything. Lke you, my adsense account has also taken a dive in terms of commissions. I haven’t been banned, but see a decrease in revenue for sure.

    So your advice is right on in terms of having a biz only around adsense…too risky.

    thanks

  3. Carole

    Totally agree. Since getting banned by Adwords, which was one of my primary sources of income at the time, I’ve not bothered at all with Adsense. “Own” your own internet real estate and work on that.

  4. Well Gauher I was one of those fools that had Adsense as a primary source. Over the last 4 months I had boosted my Adsense revenue form about $400/month to over $8500 per day.

    Well I am sure that I set off alarms at Google like crazy. Some little Google geek probably looked at my account to figure out how I was scamming Google.

    Having had my adwords account banned several years ago I had made sure that I adhered to every single part of their Terms of Service.

    One month went by and they paid me about $18,000 from a total of $41,000 in revenue. So far so good. Silly me scaled up my campaigns and got up to $125,000 for the first 22 days of February.

    The ax fell on February 23rd and Google sent me exactly the same canned letter they sent you. To make it legit the all seeing Google said not only were they not going to pay me the $125,000 but they were going to return all the money to the advertisers including theirs.

    I was out not only $125 K but about $7K in advertising costs.

    My theory is that the little Google geek could not figure out what I was doing that was against Google’s rules (I was not doing anything) so rather than let me make money and have to explain to someone they could not solve the mystery, they closed me down. A valuable but expensive lesson learned again.

    Don’t do business with the big G.

    I wish that Adsense was only .0001% of my income but it wasn’t. Now I am struggling to try to find something with which I can replace my income.

    Dick

  5. JJ

    I completely agree with you however, there is a pinch point you failed to mention. PayPal is known to be just as ruthless and unsympathetic as Google. How does one maintain control when it comes time to collect your money?

  6. Hi – thank you for this post.

    This type of conduct by Google is very disappointing because I certainly did not do what they mention in the letter and nor did my contributors (they say they did not and I believe them). It is very high handed and I hope in the future unsustainable – ie they need to move to better conduct.

    It means that as a source of income – it can only be the icing on the cake.

    I wonder are there any other programmes like google adsense we could join – is Google adsense the only type of advertising programme we can get involved with – if there are others grateful if you could let us know. Thanks.

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  7. A few years ago, I had build my AdSense across several sites and was generating about $100 a month. Small beans by the standards of some of your other posters, but significant for me.

    For no stated reason, my account was cancelled – same canned letter.

    A few years later, I incorporated, and set up an account in the corporate name. No letter this time, but all of my AdSense started showing PSAs.

    Anyone who makes AdSense a primary income stream climbs our on a limb and hands a stranger a chainsaw!

  8. Bob

    After 43 years in business, I know that what goes around comes around. Google doesn’t.

  9. JJ

    @Dick…Sorry to hear that my friend. Quite a hit, indeed.

    With that kind of money involved, I’m pretty sure I would
    1) demand evidence of my wrong doing.
    2) demand my money.
    3) demand proof they actually paid back the advertisers.
    4) have my lawyers sue G, and each of the advertisers to recover losses.

    Yeah, it won’t be cheap and it may be tough to win, but how long will those advertisers stay with Google if everybody did the same?

  10. Sam

    Dear Gauher,

    Google is doing this to lots of publishers. I think they are creating lots of publishers who are unhappy with them. I do not know what this will do to their business in the long run.

    In general, I do not think it is a good idea to be an adsense publisher if you are buying traffic, because what you pay for getting the traffic may be far more than your adsense revenue on a particular site.

  11. I know we are talking about Adsense, howver I have had 2 out of my 3 adwords accounts canned for alleged violations even though I was spending about £12000 a month advertising on Adwords. I know Google have their rules but i would have preferred a detailed explanation of what I was doing wring, not an immediate ban. 312K might not be big cash to them, but all these people in my position could add up ! The bad taste this leaves means that I now no longer use Adwords and have developed other sources of traffic.

  12. As a student of yours (PPCF), as well as having interviewed you once, you always teach the best when it comes to paid traffic.

    You are right, if you only rely on one source of income (like AdSense), then you could EASILY and QUICKLY loose you business.

    You definitely need to diversify your income streams. And, if you primary business is revenue from PPC, then you can not just rely on AdWords.

    -Kevin

  13. Jack

    Gauher, it is absolutely shocking of not only google’s banning you, but you chuckling and not caring about it.

    I know the back dealings quite well, and where this is a will, there is a way to make things right.

    Maybe there is something you’re not telling us?

  14. Mark

    I find it appalling that Google doesn’t even pay out the money rightfully earned. I wonder if this is part of their business model; don’t pay people and pocket the earnings! One of these days they will get sued by the wrong person.

  15. Hey Gauher!

    Long time no chat. Anyway, I just wanted to compliment you on another fine post, and one which illustrates the fallacy of relying on anybody else for your cash flow. I totally agree with you that if you’re going to use Adsense at all, use it as a secondary or even tertiary revenue stream. It makes no sense to do otherwise.

    Google, Facebook, Twitter and many of the other “giants” are as inscrutable as they are unfathomable. They are often unfair, arbitrary and completely antithetical to their own stated missions. Remember Google’s “Don’t be evil”? They’ve wisely moved away from that slogan, since it would elicit sniggers, scoffing and outright outrage these days.

    These behemoths are all about profits – theirs, not yours. They don’t care about you in the least. Well, unless you’re a million-dollar advertister. In that case, they *might* deign to assign a real, living, breathing, talking human being to your issue and hear you out. Otherwise, forget about it.

    If you want to control your own fate online, you simply must have your own site(s), your own product(s) and your own list(s). You simply must do what it takes to get there. Anything else, even if it makes you money, is fool’s gold. Period. End of story.

  16. Great open post Gauher,
    Google mercilessly manipulate the internet especially the ones that are within their domain.. Be it Organic traffic, Adsense, Adword whatsoever, relying on any of these their services does not just worth it all.

    Because its like sitting on a keg of gunpowder that is certain to explode at anytime. G like tossing its program users (especially for IM) to and fro!

    I need to accumulate some money more, I may never build my business round them again

  17. i hear you get banned from jchow .. wish u all the best… i learn a lot from this thing

  18. This sounds very scary – I completely use Google Adsense.

    What are the alternatives to Adsense for Publishers?

  19. Good for you!

    One insignificant issue less to worry about. I had my Adsense Account suspended in 2008 and reinstated month later after having time-wasting correspondence with the team. I did not turn back using AdSense actively but wanted to be found “not guilty.” As I said, just a waste of time.

    Google cares about Google. I care about myself and my clients.
    Working out good for me.

  20. Julian

    Am sorry to hear about your banned account. However I don’t think it happens just out of the blue without doing anything. I know a ton of people doing very well with AdSense and treating it as a real business which means they play by the book.

    Gauher, you should really investigate this a little further if you think it was just a few asses clicking on your ads. I personally don’t buy this theory because if it were the case, there wouldn’t be any AdSense business anymore. While you might have been a victim of such thing, Google has the mean to differ a few asses clicking on your ads from a real scam.

    Also, I would be very curious to know more about Marketmaster made 125K in Feb and how he spent 7K buying traffic. I have a little idea about how you do that and if its what I think it is, there is nothing to blame Google about. Sorry.

  21. bob orow

    Gauher I am 65yrs old and a victim of a similiar investing scam like Bernard Madoff.
    I was scammed out of 2.5 million dollars—my whole retirement gone.
    I want to learn IM but from what I’m learning is that if you could build your own products that is where the money is. I’m too new and inexperiance for that yet. I’m used to making 30,000 + per month before. Can affiliate marketing be that lucrative? I don’t have the time to get back my lost money in what I do which is selling windows-doors and siding.
    So I want to build multiple solid income streams from the internet. WHAT IS BEST ROAD TO START? I wish there was a way to sell windows and siding over the internet by doing my presentation on line and if people like me they would invite me to their homes for the pricing and sign up
    Thank You
    Bob

  22. Gauher, its so sad reading this after you’ve maintained your account for more than 8 years. It happened to me last February as well, expecting my cheque and the account went off all for same reason!

    @Bob, yup, internet marketing can bring you more money like the $30k plus you were earning that is if you do the right thing and have good money to invest.

    If you have a list of buyers and you create your own product or sell an affiliate product, money will surely come for you and if the list is like 30 different niches, you just expect to make $1k from each niche every month.

    Sheyi

  23. I lose my Adsense acc at last month. This is a bad letter from Google, this is similar to your letter. I did not do anything with my site and get ban with 3 year old acc. At least, they need to tell us what the hell of our problem!!!

  24. am not surprised , because that’s the same way they banned one of my pal, with the same message

  25. Suff

    Having a biz around AdSense is too risky? It’s not a biz at all, in my opinion. I even don’t trust relying on organic traffic from Google. Will it be coming tomorrow? No one can tell. The reality is : it’s Google dependency that is bad. Google is dying a slow death. At a speed many don’t notice. Some day we will be searching for ‘why google failed” in the future search engines. That day is slowing coming nearer.

  26. Suff

    Whilst I don’t consider Google to be racist, I have a view that approvals/appeals from certain countries aren’t taken as seriously as from others ~ those countries being where the 6 month rule applies.

  27. After reviewing our records, we’ve determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity. Because we have a responsibility to protect our AdWords advertisers from inflated costs due to invalid activity, we’ve found it necessary to disable your AdSense account. Your outstanding balance and Google’s share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers.

    Am making the assumption that the top 20% of google adsense affiliates makes makes 80% of the revenue share paid out from the google adsense program.

    Everyone seemed to be steamed about Google throwing its weight agaist it own publishers (haven’t we acted out this script before?) however I must argue in their favour and on the grounds of financial benefits to the advertisers.

    Adsense publishing is not about the benefits to be creamed off by publishers, its about the profit made and the return on investment margins for buyers of the service – NOTE WHAT THE LETTER IS ABOUT? Its about advertisers and the value exchange criteria.

    For large, high income earners of the google adsense program, google has its own “algorithm” on what the expected rates of should be in the transfer of benefits to the advertiser.

    As I said earlier on John Chow’s blog about the banning of Zac Johnson from google adsense – it’s about the rate of return being made by advertisers in respect of any one publisher’s account. Its makes bad business sense to have a publisher earning tens of thousands of dollars from google adsense against the fact that the related advertisers from whom this income is generated is making far less. The figures just dont add up and the minute it doesn’t add up hear comes the GOOGLE BEAR .

    So quality prospects being generated from running google adsense is what is important but the discussion here has been skewed in the opposite direction. If advertisers complain to google (and yes they will) that there is no net positive value return on thier advertising spend, what the heck do you expect?

    Advertisers advertise to make money so there’s no way I pay someone to do it for me and the publisher or marketer is making far more income than what is returned to me – no exchange of perceived equal value is taking place here (I have written so many articles on this issue).

    Conclusion:
    Publishers must drive quality prospects which translates into sales and normal expected returns are to be made on advertising when using advertisng giants such as google adsense.

    It’s not about the publisher, its about the advertiser and in respect of the potential fake click analysis by google adsense, that’s just a possiblity reasoning where google adsense determines that that the nearest possible reason you are earning too much more than the aggregate advertisers whose ads you run from your sites is click fraud.

    No one program, unless of course it your own products, should not generate more than 15% of your revenue stream, that’s foolish and ill advised.

  28. You guys wise up or you will lose big time if you stick with that company. Don’t ever use any of their FREE products. Yes anything free is loaded with ulterior motives. Would you like your kids to get FREE candy from strangers? Probably not, than why do you do the same on the Internet ?

    Have you been hit by Panda update and all your traffic gone? You never knew why it hit you so hard? Because you are using free Google Analytic s. This is like having a Google monkey on your head where ever you go on the Internet. All your content , pages, link building activity, bounce rate and social media becomes the domain of Google. How they take that data and apply is only one way – they penalize you ! You get pushed down the SERPS and stay there.

    So get off that Free loading Trojan horse you have pasted in your header and get Open source PIWIK or Statcounter which does an equally good job but its not owned by a search engine. PIWIK is open source like WordPress and delivers better results!

    Once you get out of that Panda update than you can do something better. Your traffic should NEVER be more than 25 percent from Google search engine. Invest in Social Media and use paid traffic but never depend on this beast again and never ever use their free products again.

  29. I feel that Google is very partial and I have seen them reinstating an account with a word from Matt Cutts… I still remember his status in google plus which reinstated a 8yr old account!! The problem with them is they just ban for no reason… Without giving any respect to old publishers.. Who have not used anything against their TOS… I feel that they just act like dictators trying to show off their power… But the sad fact is people will still go and use adsense and other google services 🙁 I use their search engines and their results are great 🙁

  30. I agree with you, this also is the case with Zac at ZacJohnson.com and I think we should consider other income stream like affiliates is our primary source of revenue.

  31. I know it sucks, but it’s a lot more fun making a living online without AdSense. lol

    By the way, you were featured in Make Money Blogging – Who, How, and How Much http://t.co/iTF0BenM on my blog, Gauher.

  32. Hi Ana,

    Thanks for the feature!

    Gauher

  33. Having one primary source of income is always troublesome, glad you already have it diversified and does not care much about the banned account. Google is always bad on these kind of act and getting some explanation from them is near to impossible..

  34. it’s Google – need I say more?? 🙂

  35. I have a 2 month cellphone related blog….. i do have adsense on it, but its not the only way I have monetized it…. I’ve heard countless stories about the big “G” . I gave them a try nonetheless…..for now. As I said, my blog is only 2 months old so I’m getting my stuff together.

  36. Google is the only source of income I have now since my blog is still growing but I have heard a lot of stories by Google ban and some time I felt as if my account has been ban even before checking it. Diversity is the way to go.

  37. This is really depressing. It has happened to me before and what a nightmare. Your advice about diversifying is wise and people who depends solely on adsense should consider.

  38. GOOGLE ADSENSE SUCKS SAME THING HAPPENED TO EM AND I DID NOTHING WORNG, THEY HAVE TO ANSWER FPR TTRATING PEOPLE LIKE DELINQUENTS

  39. Some very good advice there! It’s frightening to think that Google can close any account they wish, without having evidence to back up their action (it’s their system, their rules). It’s sad that some people use Google as a form of primary income and imagine what would happen if they get their accounts closed? Still, I’ve been with Adsense long enough to know if you are earning enough from it you can use alternatives that might earn you even more, and their rules are less strict.

  40. What do AOL, Yahoo, Netscape, etc. all have in common? At one time they all thought that they were invincible and acted like it. If Google continues down the road they’re traveling, they will eventually end up mentioned with these other sites, and will be just another in a long line of misguided, mismanaged web “giants” that have fallen faster than they rose.

  41. john smith

    There are website services that negotiate getting your account opened again for you. I came across one service that claims an 89% success rate.

  42. I am so angry at Google and their adsense program. I signed up, was approved and the first day they had ads for my competitors running on my site. Goodbye Google – you are officially and permanently banned from my site.

  43. I too was banned from Google adsense, with them owing me over $40,000. I’m seriously considering a class action suit against them. If you might be remotely interested in that please contact me at frank@macor.com.

    Thanks

  44. Markus Allen

    It’s obvious that Google wants to keep all of the revenue for themselves.

    You might notice that Google is offering to give local retailers free websites. This is a trick to lure them off of free organic search results and to pay for their Adwords program.

    Google is indeed evil.

    But that’s okay. Instead of getting mad about it, I’m going to get even…

    … Because I’m switching out AdSense and replacing it with private ads.

    Now getting corporate sponsors is selling… and I don’t have time for it (and hate it)…

    … So I invented an Artificial Intelligent robot to do the selling for us.

    I’m crowdsourcing this project to finish the programming.

    If you want to say goodbye to Google AdSense, you might be interested in my solution – click here to read more about it:

    http://igg.me/p/116156?a=658107

  45. chris

    Just my two cents worth; I was making around 200 a month on Youtube and was working to increase it when I received the infamous letter. Google is like something out of the Twilight Zone. I really can’t believe they are refunding advertisers. I think they’re stealing the money. Unfortunately Youtube is owned by Google and they only allow Adsense.

  46. vibol

    if google adsense disable my account we can open it again ? Please help me to answer?

  47. These stories are bad and there are so many of them so everyone cant be lying. ps vibol once you are banned that is it in a nutshell

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