AntiWar and Eric Peters Play Victim
by Ethan Glover, Fri, Mar 20, 2015 - (Edited) Wed, Nov 11, 2015
I used to be a major fan of AntiWar.com. I've donated to previous campaigns to keep the site running. Unfortunately, they've decided to publicize some issues they've had with Google Adsense. And they seem to be using it as drama fodder to get more donations.
They've lied about what Adsense is asking them to do. Maybe they did this on purpose. Or maybe AntiWar is too distracted with their tantrum to realize what they're saying.
These are strong words. But I have a specific pet peeve that's represented here. Libertarians who cry conspiracy every time a person or company does something that doesn't aid them in their search to build a better society.
Before I get into the details of what happened with AntiWar, I have to go back to a similar case with Eric Peters Autos. At first, they claimed that EricPetersAutos.com was blacklisted from Google and its advertising.
I proved that it wasn't the case, sent the info over, and they've since removed the claim. Instead, they now say that AdSense isn't paying enough.
If Eric Peters felt that Google wasn't paying enough, that's fine. But when he said that Google had blacklisted the site because it's too libertarian, I had to cry foul play. I don't know where that claim came from or what moved Eric to change the claim.
Maybe he just didn't know, maybe it was a purposeful lie. I'd like him to explain things either way because as of now, I have to assume the worst. That this was used to gain sympathy for donations.
His article on the issue shows a misunderstanding of the difference between CPM and CPC campaigns. (Pay per impression vs. pay per click.) He's lying about the transparency of what Google pays advertisers. And he's blaming his ineptitude of AdSense on Google.
Because this is my "wheelhouse," I have to take a moment to explain a few things.
If You're Not Making Money, It's Your Fault
If you're going to advertize with Google, get to know how it works. Learn how to optimize your profits. It's in Google's best interest to pay as much as possible to websites and get as many clicks as possible for advertisers.
But, AdSense is still DIY on your end. Google is not your marketing team. They can't optimize your website for you. They can't make sure your ad placement and account settings are right. They do, however, have a large database for help on how to do so.
If at all possible, join the Google Adsense Certified Partner Program and get certified with Adsense. It may mean a few weeks of work, but it can be beneficial if you plan on running your own advertising and marketing campaign.
If you don't put in the work to make sure you're doing things right, you can make a bit of money with a lot of traffic. But, you can't expect to live on the ad revenue of a little box in your site sidebar. In fact, you can't expect to make a living on a blog at all.
Eric Peters has his own work. His website is a great way to get more customers. There are professional bloggers out there, but they're a rare class of people. I don't know of any that depend on AdSense. They all have to resort to sponsor articles and speaking engagements.
Libertarian blogs are not a high paying gig. And they're not popular in searches. With low demand, advertisers don't have to pay much to get on them. Even with full optimization, I wouldn't recommend you quit your day job.
Google's Pricing is Very Transparent
Just because you can't get a full report on the exact amount each advertiser paid for an impression, click, or event from an ad on your site, that doesn't mean they're hiding anything from you.
First, the Google Ad Display network reaches 90% of all internet users. Not only that, but a large site can produce hundreds of thousands of impressions and clicks every day. Would having that data help you? Or would it be an unnecessary burden on both you and Google?
Second, when Eric claims that Google doesn't "share" how cost per click is calculated, he's wrong.
Cost Per Click is determined on the fly and recalculated for every single search. It's even being calculated for instant results. And if you're wondering, Google pays 68% of ad revenue to the publisher across the display network. You can see this in the Account Information section of your Adsense account.
Your Site Ranking May Vary
Eric Peters claims that Google can arbitrarily revert your "page rank," at any moment on a whim. For those of you who don't know, the classic toolbar "Page Rank" is an obsolete feature that hasn't been updated in over a year. But here, Eric is talking about where your site appears on search results pages.
Google's search algorithm is very complicated. No one at Google knows exactly where any given page will appear in search results for any given term. Google will not "de-list" your site for any reason unless you're doing something very spammy or illegal.
Websites doing everything right can still take major dips in how often they appear in search. The algorithms are always changing to provide users with the best, most relevant results.
MozCast is a website that keeps track of the "weather" of the Google search engine and is a perfect visualization of how things change. They also keep track of algorithm changes and catalogs change history.
For any given change, your website may see varying levels of ups and downs. As a rule of thumb just make sure you're not trying to "game the system," and always think about your reader, not the search engine. With that, you shouldn't have to worry about these things.
Also, note that because search results are calculated on the fly, you may see small changes to your rankings without algorithm updates.
You're competing with millions of websites. Who shows up where is determined in less than half a second. Ranking on Google and maintaining that position is not easy. Especially for those who don't know what they're doing.
The Story With AntiWar
AntiWar takes the Google conspiracy one step further. They claim that Google censors anything that displeases the government. This is the line they're using to ask for donations (for now).
The original email to AntiWar says the pictures from Abu Gharib violate AdSense policies. Those policies say that ads can not display on pages with violent or gory imagery. Pages, not the site.
At no point does Google even hint at AntiWar having to take down the page. Nor are they saying this effects search results. (In fact all those images can appear in Google image search.)
What they're asking is to remove the ads from any pages that violate the AdSense Terms of Service.
When most sites post gory images, they put the images on a separate page. The images go to a linked gallery that has no ads. (Example, CNN)
Further, the email from Google Adsense explains to AntiWar that:
"Please be aware that the URL above is just an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of this website or other sites you own. Therefore, we suggest that you take the time to review the rest of your sites to ensure that they are in compliance with our policies, and to monitor your sites accordingly to reduce the likelihood of future policy emails from us."
When AntiWar removed the ad, they got confirmation that their account was back up. They claimed that Google had "given in" because of this.
But when they didn't check their site for more violations, they got another email. From there, they posted another article saying Google is trying to "dictate their content." Another incorrect line to ask for donations.
What Are They Thinking?
I want to give both Eric Peters and AntiWar the benefit of the doubt. When building a blog, most people don't consider how these things work. Google makes it easy for anyone to sign up and start using AdSense right away.
But that convenience does not make anyone immune from the Terms of Service. It seems that the world of libertarians plays host to a lot of paranoia. Libertarianism seem to have more conspiracy theorists (per capita) than conservatives.
It can feel like the world is out to get us sometimes. The truth is that there aren't a lot of people who like or respect libertarianism. And this stuff doesn't help.
If you have a website that you think is suffering from Google censorship, let me know. I'd be happy to find the truth for you. Digital marketing, while it may look easy from the outside, is difficult. It requires constant studying and analysis.
In the meantime, I hope to reach out to the people over at AntiWar. I hope that they soon break out of this spell of paranoia they seem to be in. This article may sound like a hit piece, but it is one of both concern and frustration. I want to help, but only if they accept that help.
If this drama continues, I'm in full agreeance with Google. AntiWar does not deserve the ad revenue, nor my independent support via donation.