Last updated on September 6th, 2017
Idris Sami, 19, is a French-Moroccan entrepreneur who created a website called MesTextos that allows French-speakers to text for free. It’s a great thing for people who don’t use a cell phone or don’t want mobile data costs. Alternative messaging services are popular in Europe, so Sami’s niche business is fantastic.
Sami’s website was using Google’s AdSense system. AdSense allows webmasters to display Google powered search ads and get a percentage of the revenues.
So many users were clicking on MesTextos’ ads that by December 2013 Sami’s Google account had earned a whopping $46,000!
But as an AdSense partner, if you don’t use ads on your site exactly as Google instructs, you will be severely punished.
Punished and Banned By Google
Google returned Sami’s $46,000 to advertisers and banned him from ad programs until further notice.
Business Insider reports that Google told Sami in an email that it is against the rules for MesTextos to force visitors to click on ads to access the site. Sami denies that he did anything wrong, and claims that two different Google sales representatives emailed him praise for his AdSense efforts and offered to improve his site’s SEO. He says he didn’t know something was wrong until he was banned.
A Google spokesperson told the Business Insider that Google always notifies the publisher explaining which policy was breached and often gives them a chance to correct pages so the account remains in good standing. Publishers can also appeal policy decisions.
Sami is working with an attorney to demand the money he believes he earned while using Google’s AdSense, according to Business Insider.
Google Sued in the U.S.
Sami’s case is not unique. Google is presently being sued in the U.S. over allegations that it defrauded thousands of website publishers of ad money. In numerous instances web publishers complain that Google withholds ad money without explanation.
Google clearly does not ban successful sites—doing so would the search behemoth poorer. We know Google collects revenues only when it delivers those advertisements.
So, what’s going on?
Google claims it cannot explain publicly how it detects click fraud or bad behavior because revealing too much would help wrongdoers. That’s understandable, but it is a source of frustration for Google’s clients who may not know their sites are being used for fake traffic.
The outcome of Sami’s lawsuit and others may finally reveal precisely how and why Google kicks websites out of its $60 billion-a-year advertising empire.