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Stolen Adwords ads

Searching for my ad, I see mine within another ad



8:39 pm on May 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My owner was just searching for a term we use, and our ad was there but so was another one for a different company. He clicked the ad and the landing page was a page containing some of the same ads that were running on the Google search. Well, we were on this landing page and we clicked our ad (which is the same as the Adwords ad EXCEPT the title had been changed), we watched as it went to our homepage, and low and behold the URL was our very distinct one named for Adwords. I have contacted support, but has anyone else seen this and what do you call it besides fraud? And I also wonder, you click the fraudster's ad (who then pays Google) and then you click our ad inside their landing page and our code that indicates it came from Google appears -- are we also paying for the click? Where are the ad reviewers? This totally makes Google search not a trusted source when this is allowed to happen! I hope customer service contacts us quickly.


2:18 am on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I am in shock over the response I received from support:

<paraphrase>You're ads are part of the contextual network, and your competitor is part of the content publishing network</paraphrase>

That is not what I said to them and we are NOT on content networks. My reply was: I don't think I explained the situation clearly. They are working as an Adwords competitor, advertising on the same term that we are -- on Google. Their ad appears about 2 ads above ours ON GOOGLE, not on content networks. We ARE NOT on content network for any of our campaigns. So in effect, you could search on www.google.com and click our ad and go to our site, or you could click their ad, and then see our Adwords ad on their landing page (with the title changed), click our ad and go to our site. There is no way I believe that Google would approve of this. It would mean Google was getting paid twice for one search. Please call me ... and I will be happy to explain and demonstrate what is going on... this is EXTREMELY important to us. I searched on some of our other terms and the quality of ads appearing now on Google just exacerbates me.

If you view the source of the landing page for this fraudulent [www.ripoffsite] the actual URL that the site is generated from is [www.canplaygoogle.com].

Please address the seriousness of this matter.

I cannot believe their reply or how nonchalantly they addressed this matter. What does this say about the quality of ads now...


[edited by: eWhisper at 12:54 pm (utc) on May 11, 2006]
[edit reason] Please don't post emails. See TOS. [/edit]


5:23 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

No reponse from you guys at all? Google tells me it is ok and good business for my ad to be on a competitor's website. They even go so far as to say that I can reach a greater number of qualified customers (by advertising on a competitor sight!) Good business for who? I am not on content networks, therefore should not be on any AdSense listing (and definitely not on Google search in an AdSense ad that I also have an ad displayed for). The ad is still showing, and I am still waiting for service. And they never addressed or acknowledged the actual problem -- fraud.


5:27 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I guess I just don't get where the problem is. I would be incredibly happy if my competitor took the top spot, and then put my ad on his landing page. That's free advertising.

Maybe I'm just not getting it. What exactly is the problem?


5:38 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I didn't understand anything. You have a campaign only for search, and Google display your ads on content network? This is the problem?


6:03 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I don't know any of the specifics, but if you're absolutely positive you're not signed up for the content network, it sounds like your ad MAY be showing up on a search network site that is also advertising in AdWords with the same search terms you are. (Although it sounds more like a MFA site on content network - sometimes it's hard to tell the difference) However, if they changed the title, then I'm not sure that it's actually your ad on their site, even if it ends up on your landing page. Google probably doesn't understand at this point what the problem is (if I run into something complicated it generally takes me three or four people via email/chat/phone before I find someone who actually "gets it") Have you looked at your stats to see if you are in fact getting charged twice? Is this happening to your entire campaign, or just a few words? Any noticeable changes in your impressions or CTR or costs?

Me, I'd probably set up some kind of a test ad with something specific that I could track exactly what is happening, and then, if in fact I find that it's costing me more or affecting my campaign, hit Google up with log files and a (virtual) paper trail.


6:41 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

That's what they are telling me -- it is from content network. What I am saying is it is on Google search, not content. It is not a competitor ad (they do not even carry products) it is an ad that says "The Spot To Find It! It Is All Here" and the landing page for that ad is simply a listing of the Google sponsored ads that appear initially. So you see the ads, click this one, then see the ads again. This situation is similar to the man that made the Adwords abuse video that was talked about here a couple of weeks back.

I think you are right, I will have to talk to them a few times before they realize and actually listen to what the problem is, instead of sending me a generic automated type reply to typical problems they must encounter.

And I'll have to get the paperwork you mentioned as well to document it in black.


7:15 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


I've followed and understand what you are experiencing. Long story, but I've been ill and only up for short bouts so I didn't reply earlier.

On a lark in the past, I've searched the SERPs for parts of my ad text and found that I've been indexed on a number of these generic shopping sites. These must be Search Partners (since I'm not part of Content) who also happen to advertise on Adwords.

Except for the odd fact that your ad title was changed, I don't think this poses much of a problem for you. The way I see it, for me, I get two potential showings for one search though I didn't ask for it.

They see my ad or they click the shopping site (who is also a Search Partner) and also can see my ad. May be a slight advantage there. Yeah, Google is getting paid twice, but only once by me - for that single click on the shopping site cum search partner should it happen.

Bit of a stretch, but perhaps it even gives my ad a little more credibility to be associated with these immense shopping sites.

JMHO, I've seen this happening for a long time on-line and in my logs.

Google is simply wrong telling you it came from the Content Network. Admittedly, your description of where you found your ad sounds more like a "Made for Adwords" (not Adsense) site than the shopping networks where I traditionally find myself, but perhaps my ad was beneath yours on the site you found for all I know!



7:22 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Does the ad block say "Ads by Goooogle" or whatever or does it appear as though it a Search Result of some sort? That should settle whether your ads somehow are in fact erroneously appearing on Content.



7:25 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It just says "Sponsored Results for {keyword}".... no mention of Google...


8:24 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

If it starts with "Sponsored Results..", etc. I think we can say with reasonable certainty that they are a Search Partner, albeit a poor one. If you "Copy Shortcut" or hover over the link you should see mention of Google as the part of the destination link.

Nonetheless, if they are messing with your title, they are no doubt violating Google TOS. If you provide Google with a screenshot and URL and have no ad with that title, maybe just maybe, they'll get dumped from Google Search.



8:27 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ewhisper is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

is it possible these are overture ads?

adwords to overture feed arbitrage is pretty common.


8:53 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes,it does appear to be Overture now that I have been gathering info today. We have reduced our advertising on Overture to two campaigns (luckily) or they would all be subject to this.

Hovering over the link I get:
[www.fakesite.com]/redirect.php? b=E9rQURdwYeg%3D&term=retail+packaging &nterms=cmV0YWlsIHBhY2thZ2luZw%3D%3D &position=2&odomain=example.com&source=1 &to=aHR0cDovL3d3dzYxLm92ZXJ0dXJlLmNvbS9kL3 ... continue long string of junk

No mention of Google or Yahoo in the destination link....

Still Google has not contacted me. I have done further research and had already noticed this term had its clicks doubled from our average. Our webmaster is supposed to be getting me the logs for the last few months and then maybe we can do something about this.

Thank you all for the replies. I get frustrated with it sometimes!:-0

[edited by: jatar_k at 9:25 pm (utc) on May 11, 2006]
[edit reason] fixed sidescroll [/edit]


9:53 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

this is just another case of the click arbitrage game played by Google's search network pubs -

they bid on a term like "widget" at $5.00 CPC and then take the user to their site which displays ads that net them (if they are good at it) > $5.00 CPC.

there is zero value to the user since this secondary search site is only showing high CPC ads that are less contextually relevent than what google would should for the original search term that was entered by the user.

So, why does Google let this happen. GREED. Google gets paid $5.00 for the first click and then a rev share pct on all subsequent clicks. In essence Google is capaitlizing on the GREED of their search network partners. The more clicks a user has to do in order to finally get to a legitimate destination, the better it is for Google. Since they in essence are like a series of doors collecting a fee each time a user walks through one - the beauty of this ponzi scheme is that the user is not paying for the clicks.

What a brilliant way to make money for Google - unfortunately it is not sustainable. Google's challenge is to find a way to replace/offset this revenue. Until they find a way you will continue to see these click "arbitragers" putting more doors in front of users to go through.


2:33 pm on May 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Make sure you're out of the Overture Content Network as well - they turned out to be far worse than the Google Content Network when it came to running up huge amounts of clicks in a given day on bogus fake search engines and whatnot. I've complained everywhere till I was blue in the face, but eventually I just turned the whole thing off - and every time Overture (now Yahoo) calls me to ask why I'm not spending money like I used to with them, they get an earful from me.


5:30 pm on May 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We have never had success with content on Google and I realized it would be far worse on Yahoo so when I set that account up I made a point not to go there.

However, I was trying to figure out how they were pulling my ad into their irrelevant landing page and discovered not only do you have to have Content Match Advertising off (on Yahoo), but you also have to have Advanced Match Type off. Yahoo says: "The Advanced match type drives additional targeted leads to your business from our high-quality partner network of sites." To me, this seems like the same thing as Content. So I turned that off as well. I looked today and we are finally off that site's listings on their landing page.

This still doesn't solve the fact that the ad mentioned is irrelevant as is the landing page. And still no communication from Google since my reply. IMHO I cannot see how Google would want ads from some "domainpark" junk site listed on Google search, whose landing page displays Yahoo ads.

doctor gerlis

6:19 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Just looked and found a site doing this with one of my high value keywords. I have already switched off content and search partners but these people seem to get round it by having an adwords ad. I guess it may bring in clicks for me but I feels sure they are less likely to bring quality ROI and more likely to bring in invalid clicks from the site owners.


8:38 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

If it starts with "Sponsored Results..", etc. I think we can say with reasonable certainty that they are a Search Partner, albeit a poor one. If you "Copy Shortcut" or hover over the link you should see mention of Google as the part of the destination link.

You'd think so. I've been checking out some of the MFA fake directory type sites, and I'm finding a lot of very odd things going on. Not to say they are violations, but for example, some sites have sponsored results but do NOT show any google url, no way, no how.

What they DO show is a redirect of some sort, which presumably goes TO or through google. I don't know.

So, it's really hard to tell what some of these sites are doing, and whether they are legit or not.


4:33 pm on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


On reviewing our click audit reports 10% of clicks in the last month were from people who clicked our ad 3 or more times. I assume that our competitors have the same problem and that each searcher clicks on more than one ad.

If you do the math(s) an arbitrage site that only runs PPC results would on average get a minimum of 110% return if only one link was clicked and my results apply to their site. But that is not going to happen as each visitor will click on 2 or 3 different ads as well as some of them clicking the same ad 2 or 3 times. And this assumes normal and totally honest use with no click fraud.

It looks like a no brainer, I wonder why Adwords doesn't stop it.



10:56 pm on May 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

So... I received a reply from Google on Friday, 5/12 that basically said they were checking it out and would call me Monday 5/15. I have heard absolutely nothing!

The reply goes on to tell me to check out the Learning Center in the meantime. Wow, thanks I have already done that when it was released and manage a huge account and get great results no one could get from our account before. And I have been for 3 years. We increased our spending from $3,000 a month to $13,000 a month. It would seem like they would look at our account before sending such a reply (both the first and second reply). I realize there are people who spend much more than this monthly, but don't we deserve a little respect?


3:45 pm on May 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We've had the same experience spending even more per month with google for a very long time. Still no different treatment. If I were to sepdn the amount of time needed each and every day to review and voice objections about fraudulent activities, I would have no time to do any other work. This is really the problem. Google knows this and simply takes advantage of it.

There just aren't many options left except to reduce spending in the ppc area and wait for improvement I guess. Am I cynical? You bet.


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