StumbleUpon can get your Adsense account banned

James Ryan Jonas

In January this year, we asked, Does Adsense prohibit the use of StumbleUpon?

At that time, there was no definite reply from SEO experts or Google Adsense themselves. But now, there are more reasons to believe that StumbleUpon can actually lead to a banned Adsense account.

Google Adsense’s Program Policies specifically disallow the use of:

[a]ny method that artificially generates clicks or impressions on your Google ads is strictly prohibited. These prohibited methods include but are not limited to repeated manual clicks or impressions, using robots, automated click and impression generating tools, third-party services that generate clicks or impressions such as paid-to-click, paid-to-surf, autosurf, and click-exchange programs, or any deceptive software.

Adsense reiterated this policy when they issued a “Note on Traffic Exchange Programs” in April 2007:

We understand that our publishers are always looking for ways to attract interested users to their sites. But using third-party tools or services to increase your site traffic may lead to invalid clicks or impressions and result in your account being disabled. For this reason, we’d like to provide you with some guidance about this.


As many of you already know, our program policies strictly prohibit any means of artificially generating ad impressions or clicks, including third-party services such as paid-to-click, paid-to-surf, auto-surf, and click-exchange programs. These programs offer incentives for users to view web pages or click on ads, resulting in activity that is harmful to our advertisers.


We occasionally receive questions from publishers interested in using traffic exchanges to bring traffic to their site. While these services may help advertise your site, we don’t recommend using them, as they may also result in similar invalid activity. We realize that you may have questions about a specific traffic service and whether it could potentially create invalid impressions or clicks. However, please understand that we’re unable to comment on any particular third-party service.


As a parting note, we encourage you to read through our tips and guidelines and Webmaster Guidelines to help keep your account in good standing. These guidelines advise publishers to “Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first,” and we feel this is ultimately the best way to attract more visitors to your site and build a truly loyal audience.

There are two things here that Adsense wants to point out. One, that it dislikes “artificial means” of generating ad impressions or clicks. Two, that it favors “unique and relevant content” over anything else as a means of bringing traffic to a site. Although Adsense does not specifically mention softwares or programs that it considers bringing artificial traffic, StumbleUpon may very well be one of those. has a similar opinion:

Most of the AdSense Publishers know that Stumblers generally don’t click on ads and this somehow generates very low CTR. Depending on the ads generated to your particular page and the number of AD units, you might get stuck in a situation where your CTR goes below the required minimum and therefore you’re unintentionally making impression fraud. In order to protect their publishers (actually to keep their ads active so that they continue to pay) AdSense might send you the “you’re banned” email that can get you in really bad situation.

Better be careful when using StumbleUpon or other programs that can generate artificial traffic to your site.

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.