Monday, August 29, 2005

Another One Bites the Dust

I love Daily Dinosaur Comics. The strip's creator, Ryan North, has just posted an AdSense tale of woe that rings all too familiar. He's right, you know -- as I understand it, AdSense customers are just as vulnerable to click fraud as AdWords advertisers, but apparently AdSense customers are presumed guilty and blackballed whereas AdWords advertisers get account credits. (To be fair, there are obviously more happy AdSense customers out there than unhappy ones, but happy people don't make noise. You only complain when your toy stops working; you don't comment when it's running smoothly as intended -- in fact, you don't even notice. That's success, after a fashion.)

I've heard and read similar complaints from AdSense customers before, and it distresses me to hear that nothing's changed in the last couple of years. A little more transparency would really befit AdSense here. Yes, I know they've got to defend their payment model, like their other intellectual property, from reverse engineering by cloaking its workings in a "black box," but the side effect is that a lot of people feel they're getting screwed over: they're at the mercy of AdSense, and when they run afoul of it, AdSense customer support has stonewalled them. When you anger bloggers, they blog about it. And who needs more negative PR? (Heck, at least these days, if you have a bad experience, now it can be told.)

Am I failing to understand the issue here? Isn't it possible for the AdSense payment model to be more transparent without exposing the IP and thus jeopardizing revenue? Less hand-waving, more hand-shaking, guys.

"Don't like the ToS? Don't sign the contract," I hear you say. Well, yeah. There are other services out there for those who've been burned by AdSense or (as posted here previously) simply find that the other service makes them more money. However great your product is, if your customer service sucks, you'll lose business... to the competitors who have sprung up without even needing to RE and rip off your IP for their own service.

(It looks like I'm in a bad mood today, pontificating on a service I don't know much about. I'm going to go get more caffeine; you go read Jen Slegg.)