Google Also In On PPC Syndication Fraud

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We recently posted about PPC click fraud at Yahoo! that did not even require a click, but, as it turns out, Google has some shady dealings going on as well.

I just finished reading Ben Edelman’s great detective work to uncover click fraud scheme utilizing Yahoo! Search Marketing: “The Spyware - Click-Fraud Connection — and Yahoo’s Role Revisited“ (http://www.benedelman.org/news/040406-1.html). This is a great piece and well worth the read for anyone who purchases advertising on the web.

I’d like to expand upon Ben’s post. The assertions of “Syndication Fraud” and the “Pay Per Click Promise” with respect to Yahoo! is much more widespread than what is reported. When an advertiser purchases pay per click advertising on Yahoo! Search Marketing or Google AdWords the advertiser is largely expecting and intend to buy highly targeted contextually relevant search engine advertising. Yahoo! and Google are breaking this “Pay Per Click Promise” by allowing these ads to be placed on pages other than search results. This type of Syndication Fraud is running rampant across the web particularly among parked pages (where domain speculators purchase domain names for the sole purpose of monetizing the natural traffic on them) and dynamic doorway pages (dynamically generated pages are created to fool search engines so they can show up on natural/organic search results).

The reason for this is is search based PPC ads (Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, etc.) command a much higher cost than the equivalent content based search ad (Google AdSense, Yahoo! Publisher Network, etc.). Often time the search based ad commands as much as a 5-10X premium over the content based advertisment. The incentives are obviously there for the aspiring domain parking and black hat search engine optimizers (SEO).

The end result shortchanges advertisers who will receive lower quality clicks as a result of these practices. I have first hand experience with this since I have found my advertisements purchased on the Yahoo! Search Marketing keyword for “MBNA credit card” show up across the web on parking pages that have nothing to do with the keyword that I have purchased.

Just check out the following example site (parking page): m2card.com

My site (creditcardjungle.com) is listed as the 8th result on the page even though the advertising buy was strictly for search keywords only. Definitely a case of syndication fraud.

Or this one: lb5.netster.com/index/Site=bWFkNGFkcy5jb20%3D

This is an example of Google Syndication serving up the ads. Where is contextual placement that I have purchased?

I believe that Yahoo! (& Google) has a contractual responsibility to deliver what was promised to their advertising customers. I feel shortchanged!

Comments

pretty shitty Google...

Giving people the option to opt out of scammy content and then still putting them through the ringer, sticking them on spammy pay per click pages.

You are shortchanged

Yes, I was quite pissed when I found out that 'search network' somehow included domain parking services. That's about the biggest can of bullshit I've dipped into in a while. Really, what genius at Google managed to justify a crappy parked domain on a typo as somehow being 'search' instead of 'content' networks.

Of course this is all very hush hush. Google mentions it nowhere afaik. It's a pretty dirty little secret.

Google's canned response if you complain about a parked domain:

I agree. Oingo.com is a major parked domain service that's owned by Google, and you can't even block it with the site exclusion tool! Here is thier canned response to a complaint:

-----------------------

I understand that you're concerned that your ads may be appearing on [Google-owned-parking service].com even though you've added this URL to the site exclusion tool.
[Google-owned-parking service].com is part of the Adsense for Domains networks and although most of these sites may be excluded with the site exclusion tool there are some exceptions that may not. This is due to the fact that some of these sites are of a hybrid type and are considered both part of the search and the content network. Oingo is one of these exceptions.

To learn about the difference between the search and the content network please visit https://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=6119&hl=en.

To effectively filter your ads from this site you may want to consider opting certain campaigns out of the search network.

If you opt out of the search network, your ad will no longer appear on your unwanted site, nor will it appear on any other site in the search network. However, opting out of the search network may significantly reduce your ad coverage and visibility to prospects.

oingo? What the heck?

I've had Google AdWords running on various sites for a while, nothing more than to pay for domain & hosting costs.

As an experiment with a new site, I tried starting up my old AdSense account. Pretty soon I see a lot of apps5.oingo.com/blah/blah in my incoming log.

And what do I find there? Exactly what you described above. Not only that, but I find some pretty weird stats in my AdSense account - one advert that supposedly got 80-odd clicks... but only 11 registered as AdSense for search and 19 for content. So where did the rest come from?

Am I just being a stoopid newbie or is there something amiss there? I've deleted the AdSense campaigns and won't be running them again.

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