Why Google Adsense Earnings Differ from Payments

Google’s Adsense program includes a very active help forum where participants express all kinds of problems with their pay. Two of the most common problems involve international accounts and earnings estimates that do not agree with the actual pay.

There are three main reasons why earnings estimates will differ from actual pay. Google invalidates a lot of ad clicks. The advertisers take time to pay their bills. Accounts with dual income from YouTube and Adsense have different pay programs and schedules.

Invalid clicks

The vast majority of ads pay only a fraction of a cent per view, and more if the visitor actually clicks on the ad. This formula requires either months of patience or a massive number of viewers who are interested enough to click on the ads, many of which are not so great at attracting clicks.

Invalid clicks are the bane of any blogger or site owner who works with Google Adsense. In the early days of Adsense, Google would not or could not reveal the methods or algorithms for determining whether a click is invalid, leading to a great amount of distrust in the system. Now, Google has a blog page that clarifies the invalid click issue without giving up details that would allow cheaters to get past the protections that have been set up.

Click fraud became rampant in the early days of Google Adsense when some participants figured out that clicking on an ad earns far more revenue than just viewing the page.

Then, some Adsense participants began to use illegitimate means to divert huge numbers of viewers to their sites. Others had confederates who were hired to click on as many ads as possible. Some hackers even used “click bots” and other programs that travel around the web and click on ads. The “click bots” randomly visit any and all sites in order to confuse the true beneficiary of the fake clicks. This has put innocent site owners in position to have hundreds, if not thousands, of invalidated ad clicks that were not their fault.

Click fraud cheats the advertisers that pay more for clicking on their ads. As a result, Google had to set up a way to detect and to invalidate the false ad views in order to deduct the money from the advertiser’s bill.

This leads to a payment summary that will show estimated revenue from any and all ad clicks, while the paycheck shows final pay after the invalid clicks have been deducted. There is no way for the account holder to know how or when the invalid clicks happen, and this makes for a planning and accounting nightmare.

When earning from ads at YouTube and from Adsense at websites.

Adsense pay is on a different schedule than YouTube pay. An Adsense account must earn at least $100 before the participant can get their money. Google is not about to waste money paying out smaller amounts. The money is not paid until the month after the $100 point is reached, so it can take up to a year to earn payable income from very low volume sites or pages.

YouTube also has a $100 threshold before it will pay out. But YouTube delays pay for two months after the $100 minimum has been reached. Worse, any money that is earned in the next month will not be added to the previous month’s pay. The next month’s money will begin its own two month delay.

Even though Google owns YouTube, each entity takes it’s cut from YouTube earnings. Google gets 32 percent off the top, then YouTube splits the earnings before paying the partner. This can cause much confusion and discrepancy between estimated pay and actual pay.

This is, of course, a planning and accounting nightmare that accounts for a lot of difference between estimated earnings and actual pay.

Advertisers have to pay their bills first.

Some advertising is done as a public service and will not earn income. It might not be possible to determine which ads are non income producing ads, since they are put up at random.  At the other end of the spectrum are premium ads that earn top dollars. The high paying ads are negotiated for sites and videos that attract very large numbers of viewers with high interest content.  

It takes time for the advertisers to pay their bills, so the Adsense or YouTube partner must wait for an unknown period of time for the pay to show up in their accounts. This is why the estimated earnings in the account summary will probably never match with the actual pay for a specific time period.

Again, this creates a planning and accounting nightmare, because the payee never knows when, if, or how much, advertisers will pay for their ads.

In summary, it is a good policy to understand that actual payment takes time and will probably never agree with the estimated income reports. 

Be active in the forums. Read and ask questions. The past forum topics are searchable and have covered a lot of problems, especially with international payments and banking. Also, the official Adsense blog has answers and explanations that might help with the extremely complicated facts of life that are part of dealing with Google Adsense.

Finally, never buy into any of the schemes that promise money from invalid clicks. Those clicks will be identified and invalidated. Also, remember that Adsense accounts get cancelled for good when the participant clicks on their own ads!