This post was most recently updated on January 18th, 2023
There are a couple of main reasons Google could deduct money from your account: (1) If advertisers fail to pay for the ads displayed on your site or app; or (2) If invalid activities have been detected in your account.
When notifying publishers about the clawbacks with any invalid activity, notice that Google would normally provide, if at all, vague or generalized reasons. They don’t want publishers to play the system and find their way to circumvent it. Now that’s something publishers don’t have control over. It is, therefore, important to focus on the things you can control.
When you sign up with AdSense, Ad Manager, and/or Ad Exchange, you are presented with their verbose program policies and guidelines, which I’m sure almost nobody even pays attention to. Here is a screenshot of part of the “Invalid Activity” section with details on what they expect from you as a publisher partner.
You are signing into a contractual agreement with Google when you opt to accept the terms of service. In terms of how they are detecting invalid activity, we’ll count on Google with their high-end tech and sophisticated strategies around it. For as long as you abide by the rules, you get to keep your earnings, and it’s a win-win situation for both parties.
Getting clawbacks due to advertisers declaring bankruptcy or disappearing and running away with all the money that should have been yours is another elephant in the room. Although Google works hard to filter out these advertisers and protect the advertising ecosystem, it’s inevitable. The good thing is, this type of clawback is extremely rare nowadays. Thanks to Google for blacklisting them from the platform.
Imagine celebrating a huge increase in revenues only to end up getting a clawback notification on your account. That’s one hard pill to swallow. I guess everybody should postpone the celebration until the money actually hits the bank account.
Clawbacks due to invalid activity – ok, I get it. But clawbacks due to advertiser non-payment – no. We hear you. It remains a mystery why publishers are the ones penalized when it’s not their fault. However, other Ad Networks pay their publishers the reported earnings regardless of whether the advertisers go bankrupt or not. They are one of the special few.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with Google. Other Ad Networks also follow the same set of rules. At the end of the day, it is your choice whether to continue working with Google or not. Read and understand the fine print when entering into any agreement. If you feel it’s worth taking the risk, go for it.
No, you’re not singled out. It can happen to any publisher, big or small.
Let’s break down a few important things that publishers CAN control:
We heard a few publishers complaining that their traffic comes mostly from Facebook, and therefore, it should be 100% genuine. But how come they are still getting “ad serving limited” issues, specifically in AdSense? Only Google can tell.
There is possibly some user behavior detected by Google that seems to be unusual or abnormal. It could be a user that was just mindlessly clicking or refreshing your site pages or someone who loves playing around moving the mouse pointer in a repetitive pattern. Who knows?
Monitor when this happens, if there’s a trend or pattern. If working with multiple traffic sources, you might want to consider testing one at a time to isolate the issue in case something comes up easily.
If you must, Google recommends no less than 240 seconds between ad refreshes. Publishers are testing 60, 90, and 120 seconds, and most are doing fine. Never go lower than 30 seconds for sure. This strategy, for some reason, is sending an IVT signal to Google and other bot detection tools, which could eventually get your account blacklisted.
Watch out for ad networks injecting aggressive refreshes as well. Audit your site regularly to catch any bad actors as they can sneak in without warning.
The Ad Units with the lowest viewability are the ones that usually need your attention. Check if they can be repositioned to a better spot on the page. If not, try to disable or pause it and observe how it impacts your overall performance. Keep experimenting.
Advertisers don’t like paying for ads that don’t convert. If your layout is prone to accidental clicks and registers low engagement rates, that could eventually hurt your relationship with advertisers.
Imagine a click that was not of genuine interest. The user accidentally clicked your ad, and lands on the advertiser’s landing page but exits and returns to your site within a second or two. It’s ok if that happens to very few users only. What if this behavior happens from a statistically significant amount of users? Boom, you’re done.
Any unexpected changes in your data should merit an investigation. Dig into every corner of Google Analytics. Pay attention to sudden changes, particularly on the following:
On your Google Ad Manager report, check any abnormal changes on the following metrics:
Document every little change deployed on your site. When something goes wrong, you have a reference to go back to, and you know where to point your fingers to.
Bots are getting smarter and harder to catch these days. One of the best ways to combat invalid traffic is to run a robust and reliable bot detection & suppression tool. Don’t wait until your account gets banned before you act. Even with the appeals process, it shows Google that you are taking issues seriously when taking steps to curtail IVT. The two-time award winning bot blocking tool Traffic Cop from MonetizeMore detects and suppresses invalid traffic and invalid activities such as abnormal mouse movements, browsing behaviors, and drastically zeroes down your chances of getting revenue clawbacks.
There are several reasons why AdSense might make deductions from your earnings: - Invalid traffic: This includes clicks or impressions that come from automated sources, such as bots, or from users who are attempting to fraudulently inflate their earnings. - Policy violations: AdSense has strict policies in place to ensure that ads are shown in a safe and appropriate environment. If you violate these policies, your earnings may be deducted. - Double-serving: If you show the same ad to the same user more than once, or if you show more ads than the number permitted by AdSense, your earnings may be deducted.
To avoid AdSense deductions, you should make sure to follow AdSense's policies and guidelines. This includes ensuring that your website or app is safe and appropriate for all audiences, and that you are not serving ads in a way that violates AdSense's policies. You should also be careful to avoid invalid traffic and double-serving. This includes making sure that you are not using any automated means to generate clicks or impressions, and that you are only showing each ad to a user once.
If you believe that you have been unfairly deducted, you can contact AdSense support for further assistance. Make sure to provide as much information as possible about the deduction, including the date and time it occurred, the type of activity that led to the deduction, and any relevant screenshots or other documentation. Google will review your case and provide further guidance on how to proceed.
With over seven years at the forefront of programmatic advertising, Aleesha is a renowned Ad-Tech expert, blending innovative strategies with cutting-edge technology. Her insights have reshaped programmatic advertising, leading to groundbreaking campaigns and 10X ROI increases for publishers and global brands. She believes in setting new standards in dynamic ad targeting and optimization.
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