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El 14

Publicidad, Google

Martes 11/04/06

Hace ya algún tiempo, algunos pensaban que Google era la versión buena de Microsoft. Pero muchos de los que hemos vivido dentro de una empresa grande y orientada a servicios, sabíamos que tarde o temprano los interés económicos acabarían devorando al proyecto visionario original. Esto viene por el sistema de AdSense de Google. Muchas son las quejas que se han empezado a oír al respecto, algunas de gente que venía del sector de la informática. Lamentablemente para los reyes del buscador, al final han topado con alguien de leyes. De momento no es mucho lo que queda hacer, pero el día que topen con una gran empresa que tenga el tiempo, el dinero y la voluntad (fundamental) para enfrentarse judicialmente a estos pequeños tiranos, quizás algunos abran los ojos.

Todo esto viene por el artículo que he leído en el Times, como es posible que lo quiten o pase a ser de pago o vete tu a saber que, hago uso del ejercicio de cita y lo coloco aquí para que veáis de que palo van.

The nonsense about AdSense

Benjamin Cohen, the former teenaged millionaire, has run into a problem as he tries to make his next million: Google won't pay him for ads run on his website

Google AdSense lies at the heart of Google's advertising empire. AdSense ads are the funny little text boxes that are scattered across the internet, displaying links related to the content on a web page. For many sites, AdSense has become the sole source of income, with some small one man band publishing outfits claiming to make in excess of $100,000 through showing the adverts. AdSense also amounts to some 43 per cent of Google's total revenue.

However, my own experience of the program has been less than favourable.

From day one, I integrated Google AdSense adverts on to It instantly provided advertising that was both relevant to my readers and that fitted into the context of the website. In addition, I was able to weed out advertisers that I didn't want my brand to be associated with, such as pornography and dating.

Sure enough, a couple of months later, a cheque for a couple of hundred pounds arrived from Google, which was duly banked and the funds cleared. So far, so good.

But a couple of days later, I was informed by e-mail that my AdSense account had been terminated due to "click fraud", and that I would receive no further payments and be unable to use Google's advertising products again.

Click fraud is where people or programs - automated robots, or 'bots - click on your to an advertising link in an attempt to defraud either or both the advertiser and Google. Click fraud experts tend to run up huge levels of traffic, generating thousands of clicks and each Mayo cost a particular advertiser in excess of £10,000.

In my case, had received very little traffic and consequently very few clicks on advertisements. We're talking in the region of £100 of advertising, hardly the sort of figure someone seriously engaging in click fraud would bother about.

After a number of e-mails to Google without replies and no response from their press office, I decided to cut my losses and concentrate on selling advertising direct to clients, thereby bypassing Google's system.

Then a few months ago, I got chatting about my experiences with Google's AdSense product with some friends in the industry and it became apparent that the false allegations of fraud were not unique to my business. I also learnt that some advertisers claim that money they spent on "fraudulent clicks" was never returned to them.

In order to test Google out, I signed up to Google AdSense once again. I was accepted, despite the fact that they had previously told me in no uncertain terms to never use their products again. I wrote to them to make sure that my site would meet their admission criteria. Trinh, from the American based AdSense team, checked us out and said that we were approved for the ads.

A couple of hundred dollars worth of revenue later, once again an e-mail from Google appeared in my inbox. It told me: "It has come to our attention that invalid clicks have been generated on the Google ads on your site(s). We have therefore disabled your Google AdSense account. Please understand that this step was taken in an effort to protect the interest of the AdWords advertisers.

"A publisher's site Mayo not have invalid clicks on any ad(s), including but not limited to clicks generated by:

"a publisher on his own web pages; a publisher encouraging others to click on his ads; automated clicking programs or any other deceptive software; a publisher altering any portion of the ad code or changing the layout, behavior, targeting, or delivery of ads for any reason.

"Practices such as these are in violation of the Google AdSense Terms and Conditions and program polices.

"Publishers disabled for invalid click activity are not allowed further participation in AdSense and do not receive any further payment. The earnings on your account will be properly returned to the affected advertisers."

Now let's be clear: I informed staff not to click on the Google ads, or indeed any other adverts on our site. We do not encourage others to click on the adverts, we do not run automated clicking programs nor had we altered any portion of the advertising code.

So seeking some sort of clarification from Google of which particular heinous offence our site was accused of committing, I wrote to the AdSense team asking them to explain what had happened.

In what I believe to be an automated reply, I was informed: "As you know, Google treats instances of invalid clicks very seriously. By disabling your account, we feel that we have taken the necessary measures to ensure that invalid clicks will not continue to occur on your site. Due to the proprietary nature of our monitoring system, we're not able to disclose any specific details of these clicks." I was also given the opportunity to appeal this decision but reminded that, "Google reserves sole discretion in considering whether to take any action on an appeal".

By refusing to give details of the clicks involved, it was hardly going to be an easy job to explain why I felt that their decision was reached in error. However, I gave it a shot, explaining that: " We do not click on our own adverts, we just wouldn't have time. The Google AdSense revenue constitutes a tiny fraction of our revenue.

"In addition, you have provided no evidence of IP addresses of the relevant clicks, so I cannot double check that they were not clicked on by a member of staff by accident. All staff are however informed not to click on adverts displayed sold either by us or by agencies so as not to distort the click through ratio we achieve."

As we suspected would be the case, Google denied the appeal. They said: "We understand that you wish to receive specific information regarding the invalid clicks we observed on your account. However, due to the proprietary nature of our algorithm, we cannot disclose any details about how our monitoring technology works or what specifics we found on your account.

"Publishers disabled for invalid click activity are not allowed further participation in Google AdSense. We appreciate your understanding."

This left a number of questions in need of answers. Such as whether the money earned by was returned to the advertisers concerned. On this, Google was, at best, ambivalent: "Unfortunately, due to our confidentiality restrictions", ah, those again, "we cannot provide you with a written declaration that the remaining earnings of your account will be returned to the affected advertisers.

However, please be assured that the affected advertisers will be properly refunded in this way." Hardly reassuring at all, really.

Even most calls to its press office are left unanswered. Google, as a virtual company, is largely uncontactable, and judging by this instance, pretty much unaccountable as well.

In particular, I am concerned at the fact that both advertisers and syndication partners are denied the right to audit the figures produced by Google. All you are provided is an average cost per click figure, together with the total revenue for the day.

This is unacceptable for many online publishers as it means that you are unable to correctly identify the amount of money owed to you, nor are you able to identify areas of growth (particularly in regards to the type of advertisers your users are clicking on).

In addition, oddly, if you are advertiser based within the European Union, the sale is counted as an internal EU sale, with the billing handled by their Irish sales office, and VAT regulated under the Irish system. The reason for this, so Google argues, is that the transaction occurs within the European Union and is thus subject to VAT.

However, if you then place their AdSense product on a website based within the European Union (such as one owned by an EU individual or registered company), Google manage to consider this transaction to take place within California, governed by Californian law and therefore the supply is not subject to VAT at all.

I'm not at all suggesting that Google are engaging in illegal practices here, but it does create an unusual situation when it comes to the VAT affairs of small business for whom Google AdSense provides the bulk of their revenue. As my accountant explained to me: "A profitable company who operates online should always be making VAT payments rather than claiming them back, that is unless they are selling something like children's clothing.

Therefore, the Google situation is odd because companies who rely on buying advertising on Google and then monetising traffic from Google adverts will never be net VAT contributors."

Or take this as an example: a user clicks on a Google AdSense link at the bottom of this article on Times Online. Assume the advertiser is based in Britain, like Times Online. For the two parties, the transaction will take place in different continents. As far as Times Online's relationship with Google is concerned, the transaction took place in California. However, for the advertiser, the transaction took place in Ireland and is therefore governed by Irish and European law.

The end result of all this is that a European AdSense client would have to go to California to mount a case against Google, rather than in their home country and perhaps taking advantage of the small claims court with its fixed costs to settle a dispute. While this Mayo not be a problem for major partners, it is obviously beyond the reach of a small company owed less money than the transport costs to get to the court room.

In the end, I decided not to bother chasing Google any more for the couple of hundred pounds they owed my company or the cheques (totalling a further £1,500) I received well after the six-month deadline for banking a cheque. Instead, I decided to sign PinkNews up to Yahoo!'s pay per click programme, carefully noting the right to speak to a real human being, 24/7, if we were unhappy with the figures they provided.


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Imagen de Jose 	Salgado

Con formación en psicología y con un Máster en dirección de empresas, la curiosidad y las ganas de aprender han sido el motor de mi carrera profesional. Por este motivo he participado en proyectos de todo ámbito, ISPs, Comercio electrónico, Plataformas de e-learning, Comunidades de práctica y Redes sociales profesionales. Todo este historial profesional me ha llevado a tener una visión global de la empresa y una perspectiva orientada a negocio, donde el cliente se sitúa en el centro de todas las operaciones de marketing, ventas, tecnología y de gestión de recursos humanos.