Does the Google AdSense bot have a sense of irony?

August 4th, 2006

Earlier this week we got a message from Google’s AdSense bot (model T-800) about our post on Google’s anti c1ick fraud techniques.

“While reviewing your account, we noticed that you are currently displaying Google ads in a manner that is not compliant with our policies. For instance, we found violations of AdSense policies on pages such as http://…. Publishers are not permitted to encourage users to c1ick on Google ads or bring excessive attention to ad units. For example, your site cannot contain phrases such as “c1ick the ads,” “support our sponsors,” “visit these recommended links,” or other similar language that could apply to the Google ads on your site. …”

We can only guess that our post had too many occurrences of the word c1ick and that this drew the bot’s attention. The bot wants us to change the post and warned “I’ll be back”.

“Once you update your site, we will automatically detect the changes and ad serving will not be affected. If you choose not to make the changes to your account within the next three days, your account will remain active but you will no longer be able to display ads on the site. Please note, however, that we may disable your account if further violations are found in the future.”

We sympathize with the bot. Google’s AdSense policy is reasonable and for the greater good. It’s surely a challenging problem to automatically detect possible violations of it and having a person screen them all probably an expensive solution. We’ve replied to the email, of course, asking a person to look and verify that we are following the policy. But we’ve not heard back and the clock is ticking. We may have to de-c1ickify the post.

UPDATE (5 Aug): We did hear back from the Google AdSense team and our interpretation of the problem was wrong.