“Google policy is to ensure we all preserve a healthy digital ecosystem for the benefit of all users, advertisers, and publishers.”
John Brown, Head of Publisher Policy Communications at Google.
The world’s most profitable and successful publishers participate in Google’s programmatic ecosystem on DoubleClick AdExchange (AdX) because it attracts the most desirable advertisers seeking premium ad space online. Savvy publishers align themselves on AdX so they can capitalize on the financial benefits exposed to the world’s most prestigious brands and agencies striving for the opportunity to showcase themselves to premium audiences around the world.
Yet, many well-known publishers often fail to comply with Google’s AdX publisher policies to varying levels of seriousness, i.e., inappropriate website content, fraudulent traffic to the website, ad click manipulation, and misleading ad placements. In order to make publishers more aware of the various events which trigger a policy violation, today we will list the most common reasons why a publisher account is flagged and eventually disabled for policy violation, and conversely, we will offer eight proven actionable strategies that can be taken now to avoid policy violations and a potential permanent suspension from AdX.
Policy Violations Defined
Due to often opaque and loosely defined rules and regulations regarding conduct as a publisher using AdX, many publishers receive policy violations without even knowing that an aspect of their website was in violation. On the other hand, there are publishers worldwide whom aim to outwit and outmaneuver Google in a nefarious attempt to manipulate their ads to increase their financial yield through fraud. In short, policy violations occur all of the time for a variety of reasons whether the publisher knew they were in violation or not.
Google is aggressive in its effort to combat policy violations on its platforms. In order to maintain an effective and clean ad environment for publishers and advertisers, Google utilizes sophisticated, automated systems and manual reviews to identify violations and enforce repercussions as they occur.
Often the consequences of the delivery of a policy violation result in Google requesting a violation to be amended on a website within 72 hours, the disabling of ad serving to a website or even the disabling an account outright. Depending on the severity of the violation(s), when your account is disabled, there is a chance that there is no going back and your website will not be eligible for further participation in AdX.
Common Violations that Result in Account Suspension
- Manipulating how ads are served on your website
- Encouraging users to support your site through ad interaction
- Misleading ad placement for users which results in generating accidental clicks
- Placing ads under a deceptive heading
- Offering compensation for ad clicks
- Website content is pushed below the fold due to the presence of ad units
- Aligning images with ads
- Formatting content to mimic ads
- Generating or receiving automated/bot traffic or automated clicks
- Using an incentivized traffic source.
- Refreshing the website to monetize the ads (Google Ads).
Violations Could Cause:
- The suspension of your account without warning or within 72 hours if the violations are not corrected.
- The withholding of earnings from 60 days previous on activity identified as against policy.
What Can Your Website Do To Avoid Policy Violation?
In order to remain an AdX monetization partner with Google, publishers must be pro-active, vigilant and meticulous in adhering to Google’s strict publisher policies.
- Dig deep into your website analytics (traffic and web visitors) by dividing the stats into valuable segments and channels in order to understand where you traffic is arriving from. We recommend using Google Webmaster Tools to extract valuable insight into your site traffic.
- Use analytics tools, such as Google Analytics to segment your traffic to better understand traffic sources are and how they are performing relative to one another
and make it a daily and weekly habit to monitor your website analytics for odd country traffic.
- Have a clean traffic acquisition policy to avoid “Garbage in, garbage out,” by following the traffic sources guide. Always exercise strict caution when purchasing traffic, in addition to checking site lists (are the sites well-known?) that the provider is offering prior to buying ad placements. Lastly if you do end up purchasing ad space, aim to always verify your ads’ placement in a live environment.
- When buying ad space ask yourself how does this traffic provider’s cost compare to others? Chances are that if the prices are too good to be true, they usually are.
- If you happen to notice any suspicious click activity on your site, you are encouraged to report it to Google’s Invalid Click Submission Form
- Make sure that your ad unit implementation is checked and confirmed as properly installed without programming errors, adheres to AdSense and/or AdX policy, and displays correctly across various web browsers and platforms.
- You can prevent your ad code from being used by unauthorized sites by using the Authorized Sites Feature.
- Resist the temptation to click on your own ads, even if it is just to check the end destination. Instead use Google’s Publisher Toolbar
Assistance from Total Media
From our experience working with successful publishers around the world, we see first-hand that not all violations are malicious in nature. We have seen violations occur to honest publishers whom just featured too many ads in one area of a page, a news article featuring a picture in violation to Google’s policy standard, or even an error resulting from a simple coding mistake.
If you need further consultation further understanding Google’s AdX publisher policies, you can reach out to us here and we’ll get back to you shortly.