One person that I follow closely is Mark Mason, from MasonWorld.com. His AdSense account was disabled back in March.
Today I came across an article entitled "I just got banned from Google AdSense! Now what?" from another high profile blogger who was bringing in over $10,000 PER MONTH and Google disabled his account without warning and with no recourse. His money from the prior month not yet collected, gone. You can appeal, but in every case I've read about, you will get an email response anywhere from that same day to several months down the road with a denial. That's quite shocking and his article lists several other folks who recently had the same thing happen.
I also mentioned the article above on Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income Facebook page today and he agreed it is pretty scary and he said he plans to do a post on that either Friday or Monday and I will be sure to link to that here as well. I'm definitely looking forward to getting his take on the subject.
I can tell you from my experience, having this blog for just over a year and having AdSense ads enabled for about 8 months, I have less than $25 in my AdSense account. You have to reach the $100 threshold to be able to collect, so for me at this stage, it would not be a huge deal. However, for someone to be generating $10,000 per month and basically being able to fully support themselves and their family one day and to have that stream of income abruptly stop the next day must be devastating. And the worst part is they do not tell you specifically why you've been banned.
I encourage you to take a look at the Google page entitled 'Your AdSense account may be disabled'. If you're wondering why your account may be disabled, here the answer, or lack there of:
"Because we have a need to protect our proprietary detection system, we're unable to provide our publishers with any information about their account activity, including any web pages, users, or third-party services that might have been involved." So basically, we're banning your account, but won't tell you why. Your account could be banned for obvious reasons, such as clicking your own ads, which is fraud, but also competitors have ways to simulate fraudulent traffic to your site also, which could be interpreted as fraud and you have no way to defend against that.
And really, they don't have to tell you why they banned your account anyhow. The support page goes on to say: "Lastly, Google does reserve the right to disable an account for any reason..." Something to be fully aware of prior to planning an online business utilizing AdSense as a main source of income. And once you are banned and denied an appeal, you're gone for good. I've seen folks say they have utilized the name/SSN for another individual in their household to establish a new AdSense account, since it's the account and not the site that is banned, but you'd most likely be in the same situation a short time later.
Be sure to read Google AdSense Program Policies and Terms and Conditions for full details on how best to avoid your account being banned.
I understand Google is a massive company, with millions and millions of users and fraudulent Ad click activity needs to be monitored and dealt with, however the strong handed way in which reputable folks are being treated will I think give rise to competing products. It may be tough for newcomers to compete with the likes of Google with their well establish brand and infrastructure, but I've seen posts talking about a potential Facebook alternative. That is one company that can give Google a run for their $. I think folks would flock to any viable alternative given the recent developments. Until then, I'm going to check out a few options I've seen listed online as a backup or alternative plan to at least diversify my options.
Here are some potential AdSense alternatives I've come across in my searches: Adbrite, Bitvertiser, Chitika, InfoLinks, Media.net and Clicksor. Of all of them I've seen some decent reviews of Adbrite, most say AdSense is still better, but Adbrite is the next best thing. I haven't tried any just yet, but when I do I'll be sure to post my experiences.
Of course AdSense is not the only way or even the best way to monetize your site or blog. It has typically been the easiest to enable, so it's the one everyone is most familiar with. Some other options include creating/selling eBooks, promoting products as an affiliate through sites like Amazon Affiliates, promote products through ClickBank/Commission Junction, sell ad space on your site, etc. It's always best to diversify your sources of income when possible and this post is one huge example of why.
If you can share any experiences/results either good or bad in regards to the alternatives to AdSense, please drop me a comment below. Also, if you are aware of other products that work well, please mention those too. Thanks and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject as well!