Tag Archives: Google

Introducing Media Nation’s first local sponsor

Due to my recent run-in with the Googletron, I decided to see if I could solicit some local advertising. Today I would like to introduce you to my first: Chan Miller Creative, whose banner ad graces the top of the page.

Go ahead and click — unlike the model that prevails elsewhere online, Media Nation does not charge extra per click. Which means that even I can click through without costing Chan Miller any additional money.

I am deeply appreciative of Chan Miller’s sponsorship of Media Nation, which came about when partner Ken Gornstein responded to this post. I’m hoping to unveil another local sponsor in the near future.

So what happened to Google ads? They’re now in the upper right, below the header, where the Flyerboard used to be. The Flyerboard, administered by the Boston Blogs advertising network, had fallen on hard times. I’ll bring it back if that changes.

Handling the technical details is Adam Gaffin, editor and publisher of Universal Hub. There is no better friend to the Boston blogging community than Adam.

The last word (I hope) on the Googletron and me

Last week Google restored my AdSense account without explanation, though I had already learned through a back channel that an employee discovered I’d been hacked. A couple of days later I received the following e-mail from Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office:

Dear Mr. Kennedy:

Thank you for contacting the Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley. The Office is not able to handle every matter that is brought to its attention; however, we do take note of every complaint received, and watch for a pattern of complaints related to a particular company, individual, or industry.

Thank you for bringing this matter to the attention of the Attorney General’s Office.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Vitalini
Public Inquiry & Assistance Center

Here is my response:

Dear Mr. Vitalini:

Thank you for your letter of January 25 regarding my complaint about Google for cutting off my AdSense account and confiscating the money I had earned. I agree with you that my issue was a small one, but I hope you will find it useful in establishing the “pattern of complaints” that you are looking for. I would note that I gave you information about other, similar situations in my original letter.

Since I last wrote to you, Google has restored my AdSense account and returned my money. I have received no official explanation as to what happened, but have learned through a back channel that a Google employee determined my account had been hacked. Though I’m grateful, I know that the only reason my account was restored was because I am fairly well known in the blogging community. In my case, someone who reads my blog contacted a personal friend who works for Google. That is not something that is going to work for most people.

The central problem, I believe, is that Google has automated the process of detecting problems with AdSense accounts and shutting them down — and then offers no recourse to a human being. I think regulators nationwide should insist that Google offer some way for aggrieved customers to complain to a person rather than to a computer, and to receive a clear explanation as to what went wrong and why.

Sincerely,

Dan Kennedy

I hope I’m done with this. And I still plan to replace the overhead with local advertisements, which will allow me either to eliminate or play down my Google ads.

Earlier coverage.

The Googletron blinks

As you can see, Google ads are back — at least until I can replace them with the locally based sponsors I’ve got lined up. Maybe I’ll find another spot for them on the page. Here’s the e-mail I received a little while ago:

Hi Dan,

Please disregard our previous message. After thoroughly re-reviewing your AdSense account, we’ve decided to reinstate your account. However, there will be a delay before ads start running on your website, as it may take up to 48 hours before all of our servers are informed of the change.

We appreciate your patience, and apologize for any inconvenience. If you have any questions, please visit our Help Center at http://www.google.com/adsense/support, or contact us at http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/request.py.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

Still no explanation of what went wrong, though I have it on good authority that a Google employee discovered my account had been hacked.

I’m glad that this has been resolved, of course. But what really needs to happen is that when Google’s computers detect a problem and shut you down, you should be able to access technical support and message an actual human being to find out what’s going on.

No doubt Google would have to hire a few more people, but I really don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Earlier coverage.

Interested in sponsoring Media Nation?

I don’t consider myself at liberty to disclose where I got this, but I’ve been reliably informed that a Google employee looked at my AdSense account, determined it had been hacked and is in the process of restoring it.

That would be great, but Google really needs to find a way to deal with this problem in a systematic way. In my case, I knew somebody who knew somebody, which is good for me, but ultimately no way to run a railroad.

In any event, the experience has got me thinking about what I ultimately want to do with what’s now a blank space at the top of Media Nation. Even if Google does make good, I would rather sell that space on my own. It would have to be a very simple transaction — more of a sponsorship than a true ad.

If anyone is interested, please drop me a line at (oh, irony of ironies) dkennedy56 {at} gmail {dot} com.

Fighting back against the Googletron

I just got back from the post office, where I sent this letter — and the five attachments to which I’ve linked — to Attorney General Martha Coakley. I have no illusions that my little consumer complaint warrants much in the way of time and resources. Rather, I’m hoping that she or someone in her office will understand the fun and publicity that would come their way by taking on mighty Google. I’ll keep you posted on what happens.

By the way, if you click on Attachments #1 or #2, you’ll see an unfamiliar e-mail address for me. Don’t bother sending me anything there. I used it only for AdSense, and I’m probably going to shut it down.

January 20, 2011

Attorney General Martha Coakley
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108 -1518

Dear Ms. Coakley:

I write to you today about a matter of consumer fraud so small that your first instinct may be not to pursue it. Yet it involves one of our largest and most important companies, Google — which, as you know, has a substantial operation in Massachusetts. And what Google has done to me is just the tip of the iceberg. I have learned that I am one of many people whom Google has essentially defrauded under its AdSense program.

For me it began in September 2010, when I signed up with Google to have advertising automatically posted on my blog, Media Nation (www.dankennedy.net). The earnings were slow but steady. When I checked my account several weeks ago, I saw that I had earned about $120 to $130, and that I would receive a check after January 31.

Then, on January 16, I received an e-mail from Google informing me that “we’ve determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity.” My account was shut down (which is why I can’t tell you exactly how much money I’m owed), and I was informed that the money I had earned would be refunded to the companies whose ads had appeared on Media Nation (see Attachment #1). I filed an appeal, and on January 20 was informed that it had been rejected (see Attachment #2).

I have no idea why Google did this. As you can see, no information is provided in either of the two e-mails I received from the company. What I have learned is that this high-handed behavior is characteristic of the way Google runs its AdSense program. See, for instance, Aaron Greenspan’s article in the Huffington Post (Attachment #3) and Dylan Winter’s column in Duckworks Magazine (Attachment #4). I have also read about similar complaints on various Internet message boards. I wrote about my own situation for Media Nation earlier this week (see Attachment #5).

I hope you will agree with me that this is outrageous behavior on Google’s part. My strong suspicion is that no human has even looked at my account — that this was all determined by Google’s software sniffing around my site and finding a traffic pattern that seemed to suggest a problem, even though it was perfectly innocuous.

The amount of money may be small, but it is time someone in government stood up to Google executives and told them they cannot confiscate the earnings of people with whom they do business and without even giving them a reason.

Sincerely,

Dan Kennedy

The Googletron invades Media Nation

I am trying to keep my anger under control, and perhaps things will work out. Today, though, I learned that Google has suspended my AdSense account for undefined “invalid activity.” Actually, it isn’t even that specific — it’s because “we’ve determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity.” Yeah, well, you never know when I might go off.

I began running a Google ad strip over the header of Media Nation last fall. It had generated a very small amount of money — barely over $100 — which was supposed to be paid to me at the end of January. Now I’ve learned that Google is grabbing the money from me in order to pay back “the affected advertisers.” I guess there really is such a thing as a free lunch, but not for me.

What did I do wrong? I have no idea. The only thing I can think of is that, sometime in the last week or two, I accidentally clicked on the Google ad on my site — a no-no, since advertisers pay by the click. Knowing how much that’s frowned upon, I practically freaked out. But I can’t believe that a one-time stray click would be enough for the Googletron to cast me into the void. Indeed, Aaron Katz tells me, “An accidental click or two shouldn’t affect anything negatively.”

I’ve filed an appeal, hoping for the best but not really expecting anything. Certainly it doesn’t seem that anyone else has had any luck. In the meantime, I may need to think about whether any local advertisers would be interested in buying what is now a blank space along the top of Media Nation.

Google’s new slogan: “Be Evil.”

Looking for some Google calendar help

Pardon the interruption. I’m hoping to get some expert help quickly.

A little while ago I got an e-mail from a member of our church, telling me that the dates of a couple of services on our Google calendar — embedded in the church website — were wrong. I checked my personal Google calendar, which I use to post church events, and saw that they were correct.

But then I accessed the embedded calendar through the church website and saw that they were, indeed, incorrect. There was no rhyme or reason to what I saw. For instance:

  • Our Christmas Eve service, scheduled to be held on, you know, Christmas Eve, was listed as taking place on Dec. 21 — a three-day difference. Click on the item, though, and it says Dec. 24.
  • Our Winter Solstice service, scheduled to be held on Dec. 21, was listed as taking place on Dec. 20. Again, though, click on it and it says Dec. 21.
  • Most other dates were correct, including Sunday services.

I’m going to delete and re-enter and see what happens. In two and a half years of doing this, I’ve never encountered this problem. Any thoughts?