Google tweaks AdSense oversight, plans “tenure” for some publishers

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Google’s AdSense program, which lets publishers earn extra money by putting ads on their sites, has long been a money machine for the company and its partners. But publishers who innocently run afoul of AdSense policies can find themselves quickly — and sometimes inexplicably — thrown out of the lucrative program.

Google is now responding to publisher complaints with a new AdSense education program that features videos and more detailed guidelines about “bad clicks.”  The company is also proposing a “tenure” program to ensure the accounts of trusted publishers will only be suspended, not terminated, when suspicious activities occur.

The new features, described in a blog post Wednesday morning, include video tutorials and are part of Google’s ongoing efforts to protect the integrity of its valuable advertising machinery. In 2006, the company settled a class action case brought by advertisers over “click fraud” — when unscrupulous publishers use tricks to rack up fake clicks on their ads.

Google refunds the money if advertisers pay for fake clicks but the company also has harsh policies to punish publishers who abuse the system. In recent years, however, some publishers have complained that the system is over-vigilant and that the appeals process is flawed — a process Google itself acknowledges.

“We’ve heard from publishers that it can be distressing, that they’re trapped in Kafka’s The Trial,” said AdSense product management director, Jonathan Bellack, in a phone interview.

Bellack did not disclose if Google will devote more people to AdSense oversight but said the new tools would make the rules and appeals process easier to understand. The rules themselves cover not just fake clicks but also things like placing too many ads on a page or placing ads to closely to text links.

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