tales from the central european web

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Some Things Hungarian Webmasters Hate about AdSense

Today Google has officially announced the availability of its AdSense for Content program for some new languages like Croatian, Czech, Slovak, and Traditional Chinese, so maybe it can be interesting to sum up what were the most annoying problems for Hungarian webmasters during the last one and a half year – since they can have contextual Ads on their sites. (AdSense for Search has been available in Hungarian for two years, while AdSense for Content was introduced about one and a half year ago.) One of my sites has the biggest and the most active AdSense Forum on the Hungarian web, so this article is based on the feedback posted on this site. Please note that the problems described here reflect the opinion of those who were discontent enough to complain on my site (perhaps the majority of Hungarian webmasters are totally satisfied, who knows).

Localisation issues

The web interface and the help pages of AdSense accounts are far from being complete and they are full of typos, grammatical errors and improper translations. Obviously somebody got the dictionary in a spreadsheet, quickly filled in the missing fields and posted it without having the time or the chance to double-check on the live site. (If you visit https://www.google.com/adsense/?hl=hu at the time of writing you will see "E-mail (e-DM)" at the first field of the login box. What should that mean in this context? )
For instance when the English interface said "you can earn up to 1 dollar", the Hungarian version just stated "you can earn 1 dollar". Also the Program Policies stated that you can place only one Referral Button on each page, but in the English version and at other places on the administration interface it was written that you can place one button from each type.
Well if it had been just about problems only AdSense webmasters can come across, then it would have been less annoying, but sometimes the ads are displayed can also make you smile (or cry). For example when they just left a Finnish word at the end of an AdSense Referral Button text: they offered it for months before finally the problem was resolved. The situation is just slightly better now: when you read through those Referral Buttons they seem to be so poorly worded that it makes you start wondering: "How come that they don't have a native person there who has attended at least one course at the university which had to do something with marketing/marketing messages?"

Small market, small earnings

OK, this is rather the problem of the market than Google's fault, but even so it won't make you satisfied with your earnings (which are reported considerably lower than you could earn with English web pages). Also Google doesn't offer as many Referral buttons as in bigger markets, and the referral earnings can be also lower. But still AdSense can generate considerably bigger income than its Hungarian competitors, so virtually you don't have other choice.

Electronic Funds Transfer

Waiting for a check to arrive someday from a remote country (US) and trying to take it to the bank where your check will be accepted and you'll have to pay the least fees is not so pleasant, even if you know that there are much bigger countries where EFT is still to be introduced. Anyhow Hungary is an EU member, and this should make things simpler when it comes to sending money to an other country from Ireland for instance. Google has silently made the Electronic Funds Transfer option available for some Hungarian customers way back in October, and let those users add and verify their bank accounts with a nominal transfer, but when the next payment deadline was close, the happy webmasters had to realise that someone has changed their settings back to the Check option, without any warning. Those webmasters who spotted it and insisted on the Electronic transfer option simply missed the train that month, and had to wait for the next month to have their checks issued. Since then EFT has been introduced officially in Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia and Israel though.

AdSense Account Banned due to Invalid Clicks

Regular visitors of my site have seen a new phenomenon recently, mostly at the beginning of the month. Just before the payments are to be issued, some desperate webmasters show up complaining that his/her account has been banned due to invalid clicks although they stated that they have not cheated at all. Mostly – as I mentioned – this would happen right before the webmaster reached the 100 dollar treshold, and was about to be entitled for a payment. So far nobody has reported that the account was banned months after the first payment was issued, but a few of them stated that they received the check and the notification about the Account Termination almost at the same time. Maybe we shouldn't trust these webmasters, maybe we shouldn't beleive they was not cheating at all, but the growing number of complaints is an undisputable fact. What disappoints these banned webmasters the most that they feel they are automatically rejected without having the chance to have a human being revised their appeal at all. One of the banned webmasters even tried to register with the same name and with the same sites, but right before their earnings were approaching the $100 limit for the second time he was banned again. Most likely these anomalies can happen only because the accounts will be revised by Googlers (and not by robots) only if the earnings are close to the limit.

What are the Possible Reasons?

The above examples showed that the way AdSense handles its Hungarian customers is far from being satisfactory. But shouldn't the Google brand mean a certain quality level?
Well, the Hungarian market is small, the internet penetration is not the highest at all, therefore the Internet culture is low, advertisers are not willing to pay that much and yes, many webpages displaying these ads are low in quality too. You can also easily spot webmasters obviously cheating with ads, encouraging visitors to click, etc. All in all, maybe these kind of markets are not the most lucrative ones, and it's not worth investing money in them (paying for more support personell, etc.) but what should we expect in Croatia, Czech Republic and Slovakia then?