Adsense Account Disabled | Invalid Activity

Adsense Account Disabled – Invalid Activity is the cited reason

Took me close to 2 months(10 hour work days) to create my first Android app, monetize it with Adsense (Lot of googling and collecting information) and then release it in the App store. The App did not do well, but it was my first application. People, were downloading it and I was collecting minuscule but a good amount of money from the Google Adsense (Admob was acquired by Google) account.

Fast forward to 3 months, I had reached my first Pay Out limit and I was excited to get my first cheque from Google. The excitement waned out in less than a week. I drove into my office on a usual Wednesday morning and was shocked to see a mail in my mobile reading “Google AdSense Account Disabled”. Rushed to my desk to open the mail in my laptop and read it, and this is what I got from them.

Google Admob Disabled
Google Adsense Disabled

The mail made no sense, what is this unusual activity. I just earned my first $100 over the last 120-140 days. Why would I perform some unusual activity on my own app? The Google Adsense policies are very accurate about what to do and what not to do, why would I intentionally sabotage my own application? The question was daunting and seemed extremely brutal on me as a developer as well.

I needed answers, I turned to of course the GOOGLE again to read through the reasons for why I received this mail. There were only the Google Adsense policies showing up one after the other. There were no concrete reasons to why I received this in the first place.

Invalid Activity Adsense – Digging Continues

After some digging (I was in my office and it was time for the scrum, scrum is an agile technique used to plan the day’s work! More on that later) could not concentrate on this because of the work staring at me.

Took some time off in the post-lunch session and came up with some answers from stackoverflow and Quora saying that Google bots do the screening and once you get the “Account Disabled” message you are banned for life! The answers, however, were vague, nobody pointed out saying this is why your account got disabled(Even Google cant, this is what I understood later).

The Google, however, had an appeal form(You have got only one chance to share your side of the story) which you have to fill out saying why your App saw some Invalid Activity. Coming back to what an Invalid Activity is, there are 2 things that constitute for Google to Disable your Adsense Account,

  • Your App(or website) had an unusual amount of clicks on the Ads(It will definitely not be you, but someone from somewhere clicking on them).
  • Your App(or website) has paid traffic and the install/Uninstall ratio is tagged as a Bot install.

The Unusual amount of Ad clicking is mainly the reason for Account Disabling with Google Adsense. The frustrating part about this is, how can you be deemed responsible for some third party clicking on the ads on your App/Website?

There can be absolutely no level of control on who clicks or detecting such unusual clicks. Google, however, has a line which says, “You are responsible for monitoring the traffic that comes into your site/app”. The organic traffic that comes through SEO/ASO can still do this unusual Ad clicking. The Google, however, does not have answers or ways to prevent this. The only way they know is to disable the account(So the advertisers are protected)!

It took me some time, but I was ready to appeal. The appealing is a simple process (I also learned that the appeal is the only way you put your side of the story to the Adsense Team).

Adsense Account Disabled – Appeal Form

There is only one entry point for you to go further and appeal your side of the story. There is a form here, which you will have to fill out. The Team (Bots again!) parses and reads your response and if the flags are satisfied it unlocks your account.

The thing is, your chance of getting your account back is very slim (Not trying to discourage, but it is how the system works). Google like a lot of companies is customer driven. The customer for the Adsense team is their Advertisers who are paying money to put their ads. Unusual activity by clicking on their ads reduces their Return of Investment and also false Advertisement data.

Coming on to the appealing part, you fill out a form which has questions like “What was the reason for invalid activity on your site, mobile app, and/or YouTube channel? Please provide detailed information about all the specific reasons that you believe to be relevant in your case”.

A sample Adsense Appeal Form

Some of the Questions from the form Adsense appeal Form
Some of the Questions from the form Adsense appeal Form

You are given a word limit of 1000 to put your side of the story.

I was hurt and dejected, I went at it with full stats with my traffic count and my install-uninstall ratio. The Form looked convincing enough. The mistake, however, was that it was not going to pass through a system. The main reason is that your account has not crossed the $100 or first payout level!

This later turned out to be a huge factor for the bots to disable your account without any major reasons (Am not sure how the bot works, but coming from a company that does similar kind of automation to manage or read traffic/unusual activities, fairly new users of the system with less authority are ranked lower. There are high chances that they may resort to unusual activity themselves).

Adsense Disabled – Cyber Fraud – Why though?

The form was filled and submitted, but I still did not get the answer to my question. Who did this “Unusual activity” and why was my app targeted. It was doing fairly well in the Appstore, organic traffic and week on week increase in App installs.

The answer was rather shocking to read. There are a ton of reasons why someone should click your ad unit multiple times causing a block. The main reason comes due to the fact that, you are a newbie! As hard as it is to digest, the chance of your account getting disabled if your traffic is high(10,000+ visitors) is very slim compared to someone whose traffic is around 500-1000 visitors a month.

As much as it is tempting to go straight ahead and monetize a brand new App/Website the lesson I learned was to wait. Let the App downloads or Website Traffic increase! The moment you see some quality traffic coming in, it is time to monetize your product.

Jumping on to the top reasons why the illegal ad activity has to occur, following are the reasons.

  • It is, in fact, a human trying to undermine your Internet success. The fact that Google penalizes low traffic Websites/App is an additional fuel on the fire
  • There are some countries that have come under scanner for running Bots to do this Illegal Activity. These are called Cyber Fraud. There is no monetary gain in that for the people doing this, but still, they do this to affect the Adsense Network as such. The easy target for them is? You guessed it right, low traffic Website/Apps.

You will have to understand one thing about Google, it has got the most sophisticated system of Intelligent machines on earth! Tracks even your slightest mouse movements in detecting invalid Ad Activity. The Solution however to all this mayhem is to wait!

Adsense Team replied – Account Disabled for Life

The response from them(Bots again!) was quite quick, took them less than 2 hours to review my appeal and respond with a huge NO! Attaching the reply mail below.

Adsense Disabled for life
Disabled for life!

If you look at the last line, they are giving a gentle reminder saying, do not try to create another AdSense account, we will disable that also! As irritating as it is to read, that is the truth. The Google’s system is so sophisticated, it can ban any account remotely linked with your account for the slightest of change/spike they observe!

As difficult it is to take, there is no more AdSense monetization channel for my Apps anymore. You can take a look at some of the reasons for AdSense disabling your account citing Invalid Activity(Due to Ad Clicks of course) below.

  1. Clicking your own Ads in your App/Website/Youtube Video(Popular reason to disable your account)
  2. More than one user clicking on your ads continuously and at the same time. (Could even be some random third party doing it, Google says it can detect that also)
  3. Bot traffic and Bot Ad clickers(Please don’t even think about appealing if you have done this)
  4. Buying paid traffic to your site or paid traffic to click your ads.
  5. Not following the ad placement policy. Placing it in places where the user might mistakingly press the ad.
  6. Providing Click here Titles on top of Ads that is being served (Common, you think Google won’t note that)
  7. Accidental Clicks – Genuine accidental clicks are tracked, but if the accidental clicks keep happening, then it boils down to point 5. Placing ads without following the ad policy.
  8. Ads that are actually hidden in texts or modifying the size of the banner to make it look like a text. All of these are severely punished.

There is additionally a Video from the Google Adsense team that reiterates the points from above. Check it out below.

Adsense Disabled – What Next?

If you appeal and the response does come back. The appeal is 99% of the time rejected, which will result in a complete Ban for life. Do not take it to heart yet. Google AdSense which is a Billion Dollar industry in itself which serves 40 billion ads per month is not the only company that does this.

There are a ton of other companies which serve as the best alternative to AdSense, sometimes provides an even better rate for your project. I will list some of the best Companies where you can bet big on monetizing your App/Website/Youtube project.

For Apps – Alternatives to AdSense

1.InMobi

InMobi is a natural alternative for App Developers. With a lot of tailored content for the user and the advertiser to interact and serve ads. This will serve as a good Alternative. However, the fill rates for some countries are way higher compared to Asian Countries.

But this should do the job and can bring in equal money that you might have gotten if AdSense was used. The policies are a bit lenient as well.

This is going to be my next choice of network.

2. Unity Ads

For a Game developer (or a utility developer also), this is going to be the best and safest bet for you to monetize your App. The Unity Ads has been around for a long time serving and helping the Advertisers and the Developers at the same time.

Since Unity is a Game Engine, this is applicable for a Game Developer as this can pump your Earnings by many folds.

I might think about using this Ad for my next Game!

3. AirPush

The third spot is for the next big name in the Mobile Advertising industry. This company is famous for its patent-pending 360 degree Ads and a lot of different type of Ad formats across all mobile devices.

The Monetization also looks pretty sleek and can add a bit of difference for the users who are constantly looking at the same type of Ad formats. This one is also in my bucket to try!

For Blogs/Websites – AdSense Alternatives

1.Media.net

This is going to be the first answer in any blog post because it is the second biggest Ad Company. Mainly Targeting the Bing and Yahoo search engines. This AdSense alternative is a great addition for your Blog/Website.

I actually tried applying for Media.net (This was before my Google Adsense got approved), but I was rejected due to very low traffic (I was starting to write this blog, what was I even thinking!)

My inclination towards Media.net was mainly because of the competitive rates that they were offering and also the policies weren’t that hard when compared to AdSense.

2. Chitika

This name must have cropped up here and there. However, this is the only AdSense alternative that I know which is compatible with the Adsense policies(Adsense policies are so stringent that you cannot even use any other ad network unless it meets their strict placement policy). This was also running on the blog for quite some time (This was also before the Adsense account got approved).

The interesting thing was, I did make a few bucks but when my Adsense account was finally approved, I removed them and did not even see how they faired! Now i am definitely switching back to Chitika as one of the Ad networks in the blog.

3.RevContent

RevContent is highly recommended for people with Blogs that revolve around Finance, News and Technology Blogs. The advertisement channels do contain a lot of other industries but in a lot of ways, the above three are the leading advertisers with RevContent.

I personally haven’t tried this but would love to give it a swoop for the blog!

Conclusion

This blog post was intended to create an awareness around Ad serving industries that act as proper Alternatives to AdSense.Disable AdSense account is not the end of the road. You can still monetize your projects, be it App/Website or your youtube videos.

The trick, however, is to mix them up! AdSense only has a strict policy of using multiple Ad networks. Companies like Chitika/Media.net do not do that(They still have their set of policies but not as strict as Adsense).

You can go ahead and sign up for all of them and place the ads in your App/Website and analyze the performance over the period of 2-3 months. This will be a good time to analyze if you can make money or not with that ad network.

Drop in any comments you have, or if there is someone whose AdSense account got enabled after submitting the appeal(I am yet to find one), you can post your experience for the readers.

“Learn and Be Curious”

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