Posted by: Dan Fabulich | Comments (10)
This is the second blog post in a series of posts about Google AdSense. In the first post, I explained how Google has banned us from AdSense; in this second post, I’ll give our best guess as to why they banned us. We can’t know for sure–as we mentioned before, Google won’t tell us (or any other banned website) why they banned us, and we have never violated the AdSense rules or encouraged anyone to violate the AdSense rules.
While I was surprised that Google banned us, even though we have never violated Google’s Terms of Service, I was not surprised that they denied our appeal. Google’s policy is to ban suspicious websites, regardless of whether the site owners have personally broken the rules, and they would rather ban perfectly innocent websites than miss a single nefarious website.
We probably look suspicious in a few different ways:
1) We share our advertising revenue with our partner authors (all three of them). If you write a game in ChoiceScript, we offer to host it for you, and share the advertising revenue with you; authors get 75% of the revenue their games make.
Since we’re still in our first year, for now we only have four games and three partner authors on our site. But Google may have decided that our business model posed a risk to advertisers.
(This is especially unfortunate, because Google provides a special AdSense API allowing you to sign up individual authors with separate AdSense accounts and share the revenue, but it requires your website to have 100,000 daily page views first. We were almost there, before Google shut us down.)
2) Our website doesn’t look like an ordinary AdSense site. The AdSense product we were using is called “Google AdSense for Content,” but it might be more appropriate to call it “AdSense for Blogs.”
In “Google AdSense for Content,” Google crawls each web page on your site to decide which ads Google should display on that site. Ideally, Google would compute the perfect ad for every web page on the site, based on the words on that page.
This makes sense for blog posts, which rarely change very much once they’ve been published. But our online games aren’t really like that. Each time a player clicks the “Next” button, we turn to the next page of the story, which looks completely different from the previous page of the story.
Google may have noticed that our average user spends at least fifteen minutes on one page of our site, and thought: “Hey, that looks pretty suspicious.”
3) We encourage our users to support us — by sharing, not by clicking. At the end of each game, we invite users to support us by sharing our game with friends, using StumbleUpon, Twitter, or Facebook. We never wanted or expected our users to “support” us by clicking on our ads, but perhaps some people got the wrong idea.
(For the record, we have no idea whether anyone actually did give us supportive clicks. If you personally have clicked on our ads to support us, well, in hindsight, that probably didn’t really help us out very much, in the long run.)
4) I have multiple AdSense accounts. I (Dan Fabulich) have multiple Google AdSense accounts: one for Choice of Games and another for a separate business entity. Both of these accounts were shut down within 24 hours of one another. In fact, I don’t even know if they thought there was something suspicious about Choice of Games’s advertising activity–they may have thought there was something suspicious about my other site and banned Choice of Games because it was also one of my accounts.
Because, you see, when Google bans you, they don’t just ban your company. They ban YOU, as a human being. You’re not allowed to just turn around and form a new business entity with a new Employer Identification Number and re-join the AdSense program. (EINs are free in the United States.)
Since Google has banned me personally, there’s an entire business model I can never use again.
As you might expect, this upsets me personally; I’ll discuss my personal feelings on the matter in part 3.