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Clicking my competitors ads

... wrong?

     

internetheaven

5:12 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Like everyone else I periodically visit my competitors sites to see what they're up to in regards to wording, landing page, form types etc. to help me gauge how the best techniques to use.

BUT - to find out who my competitors are I mainly have to click Adwords adverts because they are obviously the ones hard at work promoting their site. The natural results are normally full of information pages and "less specific" firms.

As I'm clicking on Adwords adverts anyway I decided to search from my affiliate search box (why not get a bit of the cash I'm giving to Google?). My question therefore is as these searches are valid and I would be performing them anyway in the course of my duties as a marketer, does earning some cash out of it go against Adwords/Adsense terms and conditions?

I thought I'd be better asking here before declaring my actions to Google!

Sanenet

5:16 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



does earning some cash out of it go against Adwords/Adsense terms and conditions?

Yes, and if they catch you they boot you out of the network.

Just type the uri in manually or click on the "Ads by Gooogle" link to see the list of uris.

PatrickDeese

5:19 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



You really should set aside 10 minutes and read the Adsense publisher terms & conditions - otherwise you will end up being the next person to post a thread about how you were kicked out of the Adsense program "for no reason" and how unfair Google is.

Jenstar

5:57 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jenstar is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



does earning some cash out of it go against Adwords/Adsense terms and conditions?

Yes. It very clearly says never click your own ads... ever. Don't be surprised if you get caught when they do their monthly click audit, and get either a warning or a suspension.

novice

6:46 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



"BUT - to find out who my competitors are I mainly have to click Adwords adverts because they are obviously the ones hard at work promoting their site."

Just right click on the link. That will show you the URL.

Rodney

6:50 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



As I'm clicking on Adwords adverts anyway I decided to search from my affiliate search box (why not get a bit of the cash I'm giving to Google?). My question therefore is as these searches are valid and I would be performing them anyway in the course of my duties as a marketer, does earning some cash out of it go against Adwords/Adsense terms and conditions?

What your are doing is wrong on so many levels.

1) You are stealing money from your competitors by clicking their ads and running down their Adwords budget.

2) You are creating invalid clicks on your own Adsense ads which are a direct violation of the Terms of Service.

3) You are stealing money by trying to get them to pay you money for clicking your competitors links.

There are probably 10 other things I missed.

ncw164x

6:53 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



If you click on the "Ads by Goooooogle" it lists the url's without the google tracking, just copy and paste these into a new browser window.

jadebox

7:25 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Just right click on the link. That will show you the URL.

That'll result in a click on the ad (at least it did when I tried it). It's better to click on the "Ads by Google" link then copy the URL.

-- Roger

internetheaven

7:35 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Sorry, I guess my post was not as clear as I'd hoped. I'm not talking about the Adsense "banner ads" that I display on my site, I'm talking about the affiliate search boxes (are they still called Adsense?). Searching using one of those boxes that are on my site and clicking on the sponsored listings.

I do understand the "letter of the law" of Google Adsense but surely if you were on your own site and an ad came up for something you were interested in and you clicked it, that click is not wrong? We are still consumers and that advertiser would not have a problem with me clicking on my own Adsense ads if I was genuinely interested in that product - in my opinion therefore, neither would Google if it really came down to it.
I already know that it is against the Adsense Agreement but like all terms and conditions, there is a spirit of the law and a letter of the law. I was asking if Google are as in-human as their crawlers or are they partner-orientated. Certainly, my clicks probably won't even be noticed amongst the thousands of genuine ones I send so I wasn't really concerned with being thrown off - more an ethical debate. I understand that my competitors will be clicking on my ad to check me out and costing me money, that's part of PPC advertising and it can't be avoided.

Just to clarify, I'm not talking about clicking 100 competitors ads every day. I'm talking about clicking 10-20 competitors ads once (maybe twice if they advertise in different sectors) a month so I can't say that I'll be putting anyone out of business any time soon ...

PatrickDeese

7:38 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Go for it. Click away. Go nuts.

When you get kicked out, you can try using Ad Sonar contextual ad publishing. I hear that they are paying about 1/2 to 1/3 of what Google pays.

Jenstar

7:42 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jenstar is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I do understand the "letter of the law" of Google Adsense but surely if you were on your own site and an ad came up for something you were interested in and you clicked it, that click is not wrong?

Yep, still wrong. They have made it quite explicit in the terms, and AdSenseAdvisor has also been quoted here saying the same thing.

Searching using one of those boxes that are on my site and clicking on the sponsored listings.

Yes, that is AdSense for Search (formerly called WebSearch with AdSense) and it is against the terms to click those ads too.

From the AdSense policies:

Please note that clicking on your own ads for any reason is prohibited, to avoid potential inflation of advertiser costs.

blairsp

7:55 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



When you get kicked out, you can try using Ad Sonar contextual ad publishing. I hear that they are paying about 1/2 to 1/3 of what Google pays.

Maybe in your field. In mine they pay 4 times what adsense does.

BeeDeeDubbleU

8:03 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I cannot believe that people are still asking this question?

Macro

8:05 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



internetheaven, you asked a question. Everybody pointed out that it was wrong, in violation of TOS and offered suggestions. You then try to justify your actions. Instead of clicking on the "Ads by Google" you are making fraudulent clicks, arguing that it's something you shouldn't be penalised for, and demonstrating a complete disregard for the moral argument raised. You think that anyone here will feel sympathy when you get justifiably thrown out?

that advertiser would not have a problem with me clicking on my own Adsense ads... neither would Google if it really came down to it

Well, good luck then. Happy clicking; enjoy yourself. :) And yes "declare it to Google", that will be funny!

buckworks

8:33 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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



there is a spirit of the law and a letter of the law

Yup .... and the actions you describe violate them both. (It's not the size of the take that defines whether one's pocket has been picked!)

It's perfectly possible to check out competitors' sites without costing them anything, so do that. It's the ethical choice.

They say everyone has a price, but don't sell out too cheap. It would only take a second or two extra to be unquestionably above-board here. Invest those seconds: your integrity is worth more than the price of some chintzy Adsense clicks.

ownerrim

8:45 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



"I cannot believe that people are still asking this question?"

Not everyone is a weathered adsense veteran. I'm sure this issue will continue to surface for years.

mifi601

9:05 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I must admit that it happened to me that I clicked on my own adsense ads -

because I was genuinely interested in the product and I actually bought.

only then did I realize, 'ooops' I got there from my own site ..

It would be a great help if one could enter one's own IP address and clicks from there would not count or the ads don't show!

Google is already checkig your IP, might as well make use of this info for publishers as well as their stats and booting policies.

Rodney

9:12 pm on Dec 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Just to clarify, I'm not talking about clicking 100 competitors ads every day. I'm talking about clicking 10-20 competitors ads once (maybe twice if they advertise in different sectors) a month so I can't say that I'll be putting anyone out of business any time soon

Doesn't really make a difference. You are still stealing.

It's not a matter of in-human or partner-centric. You are breaking the TOS and defrauding both advertisers and google.

As others have suggested in this thread, I would just suggest that you stop doing it.

You might even want to email Google to let them know you've been doing it. They are most likely going to find out anyway and suspend your account and earnings.

Maybe if you show some remorse and let them know it won't happen again, you can continue to use the adsense search box.

davewray

5:18 am on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Out of fear of being kicked from Adsense I never click an ad on my own site. I always copy and paste the URL into my browser. The fear of losing that revenue to a few "stupid" clicks on my Adsense ads keeps me from doing it! However, when searching on Google for a product, I have no problem clicking an Adwords ad if I am truely and genuinely interested in the product the site has to offer...plus, I don't personally gain anything by clicking the ad anyways...

Dave.

Buzliteyear

5:49 am on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I've accidentally clicked my own ads twice. Both times I immediately emailed Google to let them know.

Do not play around with this! When G bans you, they ban you for life. They take clicks very seriously and will drop you in an instant if they even smell trouble.

birdstuff

3:05 pm on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I guess I'm over-paranoid, but I never click AdSense/Adwords ads on ANY site, even Google.com. I have conditioned myself to stay away from them altogether in the hopes that it will prevent me from accidentally clicking my own ads at some point in the future.

Sanenet

3:15 pm on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



birdstuff: Yes, that's paranoia. :)

Still, never mind internetheaven, now you know the general consensus I think we can all stop bashing the poor chap and move on.

internetheaven

3:24 pm on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Thanks Sanenet, kind of got a bit out of hand. Everyone screaming words like "stealing" and "stupid" isn't really helpful or discussive ... however, there were a few posts that tried to offer alternatives to my current approach:

It's perfectly possible to check out competitors' sites without costing them anything, so do that. It's the ethical choice.

I'm all for being ethical but could you please expand on how you acheive this?

Out of fear of being kicked from Adsense I never click an ad on my own site. I always copy and paste the URL into my browser.

If you mean copying and pasting the URL listed under the ad, that's not really a help as it doesn't show me their landing page and some don't even use the right URL (especially affiliate sites).

Thanks to those who are trying to offer ways around this, I don't want to stop my research, it's very helpful and at this time I don't have an alternative which is why I was posting. I think too many of you read the title of the thread and jumped straight to the "post" button.

The fear of losing that revenue to a few "stupid" clicks

Any particular reason "stupid" was put in quotes? Internet Forums - where the grown-ups get to be children again ...

alika

3:27 pm on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



The main benefit of these types of threads for me is knowing that there is ALWAYS a justifiable reason why Google disables an account -- it is just that the publisher

(a) does not know what they did that is against the TOS;
(b) does not know that the actions they knowingly did is against the TOS;
(c) they do not know the TOS; and last but not the least
(d) they are in the state of denial.

I hope it puts to rest the fear that Google can just shut down an account indiscriminately, without just cause. There is a cause, after all each and every performing publisher is a cash cow for Google.

But I'm sure Internetheaven has learned his lesson. And hopefully, things will remain peachy for you :o)

adamxcl

3:35 pm on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



TOS exists for a reason whether people read them or not. I wish I could not pay taxes to the IRS by saying I never read all the tax code.

Rodney

4:33 pm on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



think too many of you read the title of the thread and jumped straight to the "post" button

I think some of them just read your actual post where you described in detail how you clicked on adsense for search paid ads, especially those of your competitors.

The words I selected to describe what you were/are doing was intentional. As you seemed to have a very lackadasical attitude about it. As if, just because you didn't have another way, it made it right to do what you're doing.

As for how to check out your competitors ads without costing them money and costing google money, it was suggested you use the "Ads by Google" link under the ads. This shows the full destination URL of all the ads.

You can also use the adsense preview tool to view the links and ads that will show up on certain pages. Clicking those links do not cost either party money.

PatrickDeese

5:09 pm on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



> Alternatives

Try a Google search for "adsense sandbox tool".

There are a number of sites that offer a tool that will show test ads (ie the advertisers don't pay for the clicks) and you can see the extended list of ads.

At any rate - there is also the Google's own adsense preview tool [google.com] which allows you to see ads for any indexed page - and you can use the "show selected URLs" option to see their landing page.

None of this stuff is secret - and frankly, you should have done your homework.

internetheaven

7:52 pm on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



None of this stuff is secret - and frankly, you should have done your homework.

I have, and I already have that installed. Everyone please stop and LISTEN for a bit rather than jumping on the band-wagon ... I'm talking about Adsense for search so the past two or three people to have a dig at me are doing so for the wrong reasons. I've already said it once during the thread, therefore these techniques are of no use to me and I am already using them in other areas of research. With the market I am in alot of my competitors DO NOT allow content matching so I have to check them out on the actual search engine itself.

You're all making me out to be some sort of criminal and someone who doesn't care, the fact that I am asking this question puts me well out of the league of people who do this simply for personal gain. Try and focus on this particular situation rather than feeling like you've "caught" me. I came forward of my own accord asking for help ... and I'm certainly not getting it ...

What would be better, 100 posts filled with hatred for what I'm doing, or 1 that helps me to find a different way?

PatrickDeese

8:03 pm on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Where does it say in the Google Adsense T&C [google.com] that using the Adsense for Search tool makes it okay to click on advertisers?

Seems like point 5 pretty much says "no".

I think that this search [google.com] might come in handy.

Robino

8:09 pm on Dec 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member




internetheaven, people are sensitive to this because nobody likes being ripped off.

Why are you so worried about your competitors anyway? You can surely get a good feel for what they're doing without seeing the exact Adwords landing pages.

This 97 message thread spans 4 pages: 97
 

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