Friday, March 09, 2007

Making Up with Google: How I restored my Adsense Account

I finally did. I swallowed hard, and went hat in hand to Google, and said those difficult words. "I'm sorry."

My odyssey began about 13 months ago. I had signed up for Google Adsense, that ubiquitous program that has been responsible for flooding the internet with advertising. I signed up mostly out of curiosity. I did not own any web properties that had enough traffic to make any money. I made a few cents here and there, but I didn't really care.

One day I decided I was going to promote a new website. So I went out to Adbrite, and marketing genius that I am, I purchased the cheapest ads I could find: interstitial ads that would display my site as an "intermission" on someone else's site. They were only 1 cent per "visitor," so I thought, "Hmm! I'll take 20 bucks worth."

Adbrite, no doubt wanting to give me the most money for my dollar, loaded me up, man! Instead of just sending me 2,000 visitors over the course of a day, they sent me more than 100,000 visitors in about an hour.

That flood of traffic caused my web hosting provider to shut me down for a week. But most significantly, it raised a flag at Google Adsense and caused my account to be banned for "unusual" traffic and probably about 10 other things.

I didn't care at the time, but fast forward 13 months to today: I now own a web property that has 2,000 unique visitors per day, about 130,000 page views per month, and its growing at 70% per month. I've had to move the site from a shared hosting account to a dedicated server that runs about $200 per month.

I started running Yahoo ads, thinking that they would be a good alternative to Google. And Yahoo has a good thing going, but its not Adsense. Not even close. Yahoo only wants US traffic right now, and has been banning sites that display its ads to non-US users. Although I was making good money on Yahoo, I soon realized that my traffic was becoming more and more international. US traffic is now about 40% of my site. I played around with some geo-targeting, but its not a piece of cake, and not a sure thing. With the prospect of finding myself unable to effectively monetize a fast growing part of my site's user base, and with the fear of getting banned from Yahoo, my course of action was clear: time to kiss and make up with Google.

I tried logging into my old Adsense account, and saw the cold greeting: Account closed.

I decided to enter a ticket in the Adsense support system. With my best English grammar and most polite tone, I explained that I was sorry for my past misdeeds. I tried to explain what had happened, that in my zeal to promote my website and with my inexperience with Adsense, I had caused their advertisers pain, and that it would never happen again. I sent the message, and received a canned email response.

The next day, I replied to the "response" email from Google. I had added that I had put procedures in place to educate my marketing people about Adsense. This was done to ensure that there would be no similar problems on the site.

The following day, I sent another rely to the response email: this time I reassured them that I had been successful in the Yahoo program, and offered to supply any proof of my good citizenship in YPN.

Yep. I sent one more reply, stating how important it would be to me to use Adsense again. That the program would be so valuable to me that I would never dare to let it down.

The next day I fished an email out of my "spam" box from Google. Subject: "Account Reinstated."

"Thank you for your appeal. We have reviewed your circumstances and have reinstated your account, effective immediately. Please note that there will be a delay of up to 48 hours before our servers are informed of the update and ads start running on your website again."

Adsense is up and running. I'm very excited to be back in the program. I'm looking forward to being a part of it and seeing how it measures to to Yahoo.

So if you've been banned from Adsense, take heart. There may be a way to appeal.

If you're in adsense, take care: it's a pain in the ass to get reinstated if you are banned. Take proper precautions.

Right now, I'm convinced that Adsense is just a better program than Yahoo. Adsense is where the advertisers are. Yahoo is just text, but Adsense is banners, text, even video. The ads seem to serve faster. No screwing around with geotargeting my Adsense ads.

Thanks, Google! And Yahoo, keep it up! But you've got a long ways to go, and you really need to do away with that US-traffic-only requirement.

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