Stalked on Google AdSense


I tossed good taste to the wind a couple of weeks ago when I applied for a Google AdSense account for my OpenSalon blog. I will admit I’m an aesthetic snob. I like things to look a certain way. I pay top dollar on Kleenex, the high-end oval-shaped kind with the groovy mod prints that hold only a dozen tissues. I arrange the bed pillows–soothing blues and greens, coverings that offer a variety of tactile experiences–just so. I even bought a lovely four-leaf-clover-shaped caddy to house our remote controls so they don’t spill out on to the couch and make me yell at people.

Until recently, I looked askance at bloggers who allowed those garish blue boxes on the margins of their sites. How gauche to pimp potentially unreliable businesses! How cheesy to pander for click-throughs! Does this mean you personally vouch for the 7 Sure Fire Ways to Save Your Marriage! ? How do you know Birth Records Can Be Found for Anyone! ? Have you vetted the Proven Advanced Drug-Free Treatment for Bipolar Disorder!? I was not above running ads for reputable vendors on my blog, per se, but only with nuanced ad copy and pretty fonts.

And then I met with my custody evaluator. On our first session, he riffled through pages and pages and pages of notes he’d taken from my ex’s first visit. “Wow,” he said, slightly bug-eyed. “Prince has a lot of allegations.”

At the evaluator’s $350-an-hour rate, Prince’s copious allegations of my unfit motherhood and all-around craziness could bleed me dry. Which of course is part of his intention. I’d heard of custody evaluations that ran upwards of $25,000 and thought…this is how it happens. The richer, more rabid ex slings mud until the poorer, more reasonable ex cries uncle. I started to hyperventilate. Not really, but I find that I don’t actually breathe anymore. I sort of wheeze and gasp and moan.

Shortly after my meeting with the evaluator, I found myself sitting in front my computer, filling out the Google AdSense form, watching aesthetic pride and decorum slip away. Funny how looming bankruptcy will change your priorities.

When I went on to my OpenSalon blog to read a comment, something in the left-hand margin caught my eye. It took a moment to register. But, yes, it was true: Google AdSense was running an ad for my ex-husband’s attorney on my site! This attorney, whom I refer to as Alfalfa, was advertising his “mediation” services. HA! Alfalfa cannot mediate to save his life. He is incapable of negotiating. He writes 5-page missives full of hyperbolic allegations and threats of sanctions. His histrionic phone conversations invariably mushroom into hour-long rants in which my attorney can insert no more than a few words. His ad for “mediation” misleads the public. He is the lowest form of vermin. And he is desecrating my blog site.

But if I make some money off him, who cares?

Two of my bloggeauges suggested I corral my friends into madly clicking on Alfalfa’s ad. For those of you who are AdSense virgins, here’s how it works: the person hosting the ad only gets paid if someone clicks on it. The advertiser then pays per click. I considered this tactic until it hit me: what if Alfalfa’s able to track those clicks back to my blog? Yes, I write pseudonymously, but what if he reads enough thinly-veiled details and figures out who I am? What if he reads the part where I call him a weasel? This is the lowlife who has actually filed a civil suit against a major custody evaluator in town, I suppose for the hell of it. Do I really need to risk adding more fuel to his litigious fire?

So I told friends not to click. Every so often I check my blog page to see if he’s still there. He is. And you know who else has joined him? On the post where I write about my son’s problems in school? My son’s therapist! And a few days later, who joins my ex’s attorney and my son’s therapist? The alternative school that my son attends! There, on my blog page, in neon blue letters! My opposing counsel and collaterals–people with experience with my ex, my son, and me–who will be testifying in our custody hearing! They are all advertising on my blog!

Granted, the prospect of losing my son and all of my money has me just a wee bit paranoid most days, but I wonder: is the stalking merely a coincidence, or is it intentional? Have these vendors tipped off their SEO people to place ads on my site? Are they keeping tabs on me, culling information to be used against me in the custody hearing? If I blog that my ex’s attorney is studly and smart, would it help?

And what do I get for all this worrying? As of yesterday, when I checked my AdSense account, just sixty cents. Sixty #$&*(?! cents.

Since I have already divested myself of good taste, I am considering doing the same with caution. Anyone shopping for a divorce attorney, therapist, or alternative secondary school, please let me know.

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About perilsofdivorcedpauline

I am a survivor of a world-class gnarly divorce. My dastardly ex-husband is suing me for full custody of my son, and more time with my daughter. He’s super-rich and I’m super-not. You get the picture.
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15 Responses to Stalked on Google AdSense

  1. This is, quite possibly, one of the FREAKIEST things I’ve heard. Ewww…..especially the attorney one. I hope you told your attorney. There may be a conflict of interest in there somewhere, and if things don’t go well in court, grounds for mistrial? Ewww….

  2. theblendededge says:

    You must be kidding me. How oh how…does that happen. Do you ever want to break down into that crazy I’ve-done-gone-mad laugh? You know the kind where, if anyone else heard you, they’d know for sure you were a woman on the edge. I know I would if I would’ve seen those ads on my blog. Be brave…get paid.

    Also, I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned it to you or not, but I learned that a good way to minimize (some) bills from legal fees is to ask if there is ANYTHING you can do yourself that they would otherwise nickel and dime you on. I spent a lot of time at the courthouse entering records and making copies at the FedEx copy place…but it all helped a little and every little bit counts. Remeber that the legal team is there to help you, but you are not helpless. You are their bosslady. 🙂

  3. Is there a way to ask Google Adsense if the advertisers can click back to you? I ran ads for awhile for another business and wasn’t savvy enough to figure out where the clicks were coming from…but that’s me and I’m not a whiny, slimy, blood-money-sucking vermin, nor do I have legions of the same checking my analyticals. I owe you an apology if they can click back to you because I was one of those bloggeagues who suggested we inundate them with click bills. They have to pass that advertising cost along to someone and I was hoping it would be their client! But the therapist…the school…good grief. That is VERY scary.

    It’s yet another example of how a pen name can be freedom, but can come at a price. Unless, of course, none of them can see themselves in what you write. Right.

    • You don’t owe me an apology at all! I kinda doubt they’ll click back…but it’s a good idea to check with the AdSense people. also, I think it’s unlikely anyone would click on the attorney’s ad, but who knows…I may cancel it anyway since 60 cents isn’t going to get me very far.

      • I’m up to a whopping $14 in 6 weeks. Those “real silver” rings must be selling like hotcakes! I also (which you’ve probably seen) run Amazon, since I have control over what content is actually advertised on my site. Haven’t checked those stats lately, but I think I earned .40 by buying a book for myself via the site. Hope I don’t get busted!

  4. Just an FYI about tech stuff. Based on your IP address from your computer, there are databases of information which would allow me to figure out your country, your state, your city, and in some cases your address. The anonymous part of surfing is because nobody is looking, not that you are actually anonymous.

    As for AdSense, unless your pageviews are really, really high, I doubt one can generate significant revenue. So far in my meandering, I have only run across the blogger Heather Armstrong of dooce.com who has managed to turn her web site into a business. see my posting: Blogging: just another drop in the bucket

    I’m sorry about Prince. He will never be satisfied. Even if he beats you into the ground, he won’t find fulfilment. What’s odd is that as a businessman he should know when to walk away. The time, effort, and money he’s putting into this will never match whatever possible return (profit) he thinks he’s going to get out of it. I sincerely hope you can stay out of the line of fire. Crazy people are to be avoided, but crazy people with deep pockets are difficult to avoid and dangerous.

  5. twg says:

    Hi. Random person here, probably far away, but I’ve noticed Adsense ads are strangely specific, sort of like the ads you get on gmail, that change when you move to a different message. If you’re logged into your account while viewing your blog (particularly your gmail account), or if the things you’re seeing ads for are just local and thus your IP with your location gives you away, that may be why you’re seeing those specific ads. It’s possible (I’d imagine likely) that anyone viewing you somewhere else won’t see any of those ads. Actually, I checked your OS blog and got all local ads. Just wanted you to know. 🙂

    By the way, found you via the salon feature months ago and have been reading ever since. Your writing is great and I’ve enjoyed reading everything you’ve written. I find it compelling, sad, funny — you run the gamut. I wish you the best in your struggles.

  6. Great story! And kinda freaky too! I think AdSense ads are geography-based as well so you may only see them because you’re in the area. I may see an entirely different set of ads. Just trying to make you feel better 🙂

  7. Yes indeed. “This is how it happens.” And boy can I relate to your words here: The richer, more rabid ex slings mud until the poorer, more reasonable ex cries uncle.

    It’s a very effective strategy, when you think about it. It forces you to constantly defend yourself – not to mention your capacity as a parent, trying to protect your children – all the while it certainly does bleed you dry until you have no more. Then, short of a small miracle (or family or good luck), down, down, down you go on the spiral.

    As to your paranoia, I might suggest that those of us who have lived this (for many years) would say you are not paranoid at all; rather, you know your adversary.

    As to Adsense, I had to smile. Being in fairly desperate financial straits for much of the past years, the opportunity to make a few bucks with Adsense, theoretically able to control which ads show up on your pages, I went through an Adsense phase for about 6 months. You might enjoy my Adsense “break up” letter (click my name; I put it under there).

    And as far as I know – as others have said – AdSense ads are very locally based, depending upon what you write and if you know how to optimize your headings and text to draw certain ads. So you can actually semi-control the sorts of things that will show up – if you are an SEO-savvy writer.

    As to the pseudonym – well – it helps a little, but only somewhat. Only if you keep a lot of personal details out, and frankly, if someone wants to know who you are, it’s not so hard to figure out after a time. It’s not hard to trace an IP.

    Incidentally, I like your “pseudonymously” – which I call Pseudonymphomania.

  8. PS – Reiterating what another commenter said: You really can’t make $$ with AdSense, generally speaking. Their formulas for calculation of the payments are not so easy to figure out, and even if you make a few “decent” amounts ($30 – 50/month) for awhile, you may find that after a few months they simply change the rates they pay you and regardless of page views, suddenly you’re making pennies.

    It’s not worth it.

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