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03 february 2019 0 comments reading time: 8 minutes

Hiding from the big brother: thoughts on the Google Ads moderation system

Hello everyone!

Accounts are a regular problem of almost anyone who drives traffic in one way or another. Those affiliates who work in Google Ads (previously Google Adwords), are especially used to their accounts getting blocked, often for no reason. In this article, we’ll try to figure out how Google’s moderation system works and what you should pay attention to when trying to pass it. We’re attaching an instruction in the end.

Affiliate marketing is directly tied to attempts of circumventing moderation systems. And if the first few affiliate accounts launch without actual problems, after that they get banned in spades. The saddest case is when an entirely new account gets blocked without even a hint of breaking any rules. After that, everyone starts looking for those “blocking algorithms” through which Google finds them out.

Most affiliates, in the end, start following pretty basic principles, and easily share them with others:

  • You need to change the hardware;
  • You need to change your e-mail addresses;
  • You need to change your IP addresses;
  • You need to change your payment information;
  • It’s very good to work on “trust accounts” (accounts with a history of advertising white topics);
  • Accounts need to be prepared in advance (before starting up grey ads, only go for white topics for a while);

But even if you follow these rules impeccably, a lot of people still get banned out of nowhere. The reason isn’t in the fact that “this IP address has already been used”, but a far more complicated blocking algorithm that Google utilizes.

After being on “the dark side” for a long while, discussing matters of moderation with other specialists, I have made this conclusion for myself:

Google Ads’ automatized moderation system is a complicated neural network that factors in a huge number of elements about the advertising account and the entire account in general, working on the principle of the account’s “rating”.

Now let’s see why this statement is relevant.

Neutral networks and BigData have long ago ceased to be mere fantasy, and for Google have openly functioned as everyday tools for a long time. Why, while using them for picking out its audience, Google can’t use them for its moderation system?

  1. Every advertiser knows that ads launch better on “old accounts”. But many have noticed that neither the account age nor the sum of ad spend exist as a 100% guarantee for its dependability. And sometimes old accounts perform completely differently. So, even for old accounts, all other things being equal, there is a much bigger amount of elements to consider that influence how “trustworthy” it is for the system.
  2. All affiliates change IP addresses. And everyone knows that if you use low-quality proxy servers, the chances of getting banned are very high. Everyone searches for personal proxy servers, the ones that haven’t been used before. And I don’t know a single white PPC specialist that would get his account blocked after accessing it from a public Wi-Fi, a public proxy, or other obviously “dangerous” IP addresses. If somebody doesn’t know, there aren’t that many available IP addresses in the world. Sometimes it’s possible for several apartment buildings to be using 1 IP address. If that’s so important, why don’t “white” accounts get blocked?
  3. Many may have noticed that with time, moderation on a new topic gets more and more problematic, but if the topic gets less active, moderation becomes simple again. So the system considers the information that stretches over numerous accounts, understands when a certain topic attracts mass activity from affiliates.
  4. As an experiment, we used the same payment information in white and grey accounts, logged in from the same computers and e-mails. Even those actions that are, judging by all affiliate standards, “deadly”, have brought zero harm to white accounts.

So Google Ads’ moderation system doesn’t just block white accounts for some coincidences in information or for breaking the rules, but instead considers the account’s history, other accounts’ data in the advertisement topic, and evaluates the situation according to its own complicated set of rules at the time, adequately assessing the possibility of “foul play”. And all this is using a massive amount of data. A standard set of rules couldn’t work like this. So it can be said that a neural network is responsible for moderation.

From a practical side of affiliate work, this theory gives an answer to the main question: how to circumvent moderation.

If we summarize all universally accepted canons, it can be said that every advertisement account has its own rating, and that directly affects the probability of getting either banned or checked. Accordingly, there are factors that can affect this rating either positively or negatively.

Positive factors can include:

  • A good history of the account’s clicks and views with white topics;
  • A good history of payments in the advertisement account;
  • The account’s owner has a history beyond advertisement (activity in other Google services);

When it comes to things that affect that rating negatively, the amount of factors is much bigger. Figuratively speaking, you could single out several separate subgroups:

  1. Similarities with banned accounts.
  • Google profile;
  • Domain name;
  • Payment information;
  • Phone number;
  • Logging into the system simultaneously with banned accounts;
  • Hardware;
  • IP address;
  • Constant use of the same settings, texts, word combinations;
  • The same landing page;
  • Website hostings;
  • Domain registration;

Of course, the degree to which these factor affect ratings varies. But trying to change all things together is always good for your health.

  1. Advertising products or services that break Google rules or your country’s laws (for example, promoting medicinal drugs).
  2. Being suspected of hacking
  • Very sudden changes to the account’s entire structure and settings;
  • Transferring rights to the account;
  1. Suspicious activity
  • A considerable increase in a daily budget;
  • Creating a big number of accounts at the same moment;
  • Creating an account with a payment method and a currency that doesn’t align with your geolocation;
  • Actions that resemble bot activity;
  • Working with keywords that have faced a lot of bans recently;
  • Working from Russia or CIS (you’re blacklisted, deal with it);

So what should be done?

  1. Try to show that you are a real user, ready to fully utilize all google services.
  2. Before beginning to work with a grey topic, try to launch some ads on a white topic on the same domain. The trick is that an amount of clicks and views plays a big role. You can use a cheap topic with a realistic cost per click, like one cent, and build your account’s rating on that.
  3. Get advance payments, if possible. Credit card payments in other Google services also positively affect the rating.
  4. Try to switch up all account settings and used websites as extensively as possible.
  5. There’s no need to rush. The bigger the interval between the times you make changes to your account, the better the system will react. This is especially relevant for old accounts, with a history of ad spend.

To summarize:

This way, an affiliate’s task is to each time create an account that seems as white and fluffy as possible, avoiding ties to old accounts. The “greyer” the topic, the more relevant this is.

All information in this article is comprised of personal guesses and attempts to summarize gained experience. It’s possible that I went wrong somewhere.

Author:
Alex Root
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