At Some AdSense Web Sites, Tipping Is Encouraged

Google AdSense may have earned the company billions in ad revenue, but some publishers never actually get to share any of the revenue. So they ask for tips.

Scott Karp realizes he needs help if hes ever going to collect any of the revenue he earns participating in Googles AdSense advertising program.

So now his Web site encourages tipping.

What Karp and a growing number of other Web site operators do, in actuality, is leave a note on their sites encouraging visitors to click on Google-placed ads, especially the ones that actually interest them.

Tipping seeks to take advantage of Googles AdSense, which is one of the first do-it-yourself online ad programs.

With each click of an AdSense ad, a few more pennies of revenue to share flows into a Web site operators AdSense account.

But AdSense participants can only collect when their accounts exceed $100, according to the rules Google sets for AdSense.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about how this practice is likely common at Microsoft and others offering an AdSense-like ad program.

While the Internets dotted with testimonials of AdSense profits, the growing numbers asking for tips speaks to how many more Web site operators will never reach the $100 figure, and therefore collect their revenue share. Rather, Google keeps it all.

Google created the $100 rule because the Mountain View, Calif.-based firm sought to allay frustration.

The firm envisioned circumstances where a Web operator might get a check from Google for revenue so minuscule, it would exceed the amount a bank charges to cash the check.

But the rule has generated a lot of headaches, too. For many small-time sites with very little traffic, ad revenue accounts build so slowly they seem to stagnate. In Karps case, he seems stuck at around $23.

Some Web operators write about just giving up on reaching the $100 level; some write of not even ever bothering to check on just how much AdSense revenue theyve earned.

But others are more proactive.

"Help me get my money from Google," Karp writes in a recent posting. "Remember, unless I hit $100, Google gets to keep it all."

Virtual tipping began a few years ago as a kind of private joke and was practiced by Robin Hood-type characters that swoop in to rob from the rich and give to the poor.

This wasnt what Google had in mind when it created AdSense, which to a large degree is targeted at small-time Web operations or Internet hobbyists that dont have the resources or know-how to create an advertising campaign.

Instead, Google built AdSense to do all the heavy lifting for these sites.

As an incentive to participate, Google shares the revenues with Web site operators.

But as Karp and other examples show, its not only given rise to tipping, but now tipping is no longer practiced in secret.

In fact, some Web operators are so bold as to leave virtual tip jars.

Tipping poses a complex problem for Google. For one, its a version of click fraud, in which nefarious means are used in order to inflate the number of times it seems an advertisement is viewed.

As tipping shows, it can earn someone ill-gotten gains, albeit a very small amount.

Yet, tipping spotlights quite a potential gold mine for Google.

It would appear that a certain percentage of AdSense accounts never actually exceed $100.

So, all those tiny accounts could add up to a lot of profit from the Mountain View, Calif.-based company.

A Google spokesperson had no immediate comment when asked what percentage of AdSense participants never exceed the $100 threshold, how many dollars all their accounts add up to, and just what Google does with the money.

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