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adwords fraudster on the way

click url != display url

     
7:39 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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today i noticed ebay.de ads in my blocks. i have put ebay in my ad filter long time ago. after a few investigating, it turns out, that the fraudster each time uses one of several weird .net domains as landing page and redirects to search.ebay.de.
oddly enough, typing in the .net directly redirects to commission junction.

i have reported this to the adsense team.
extremely annoying, because:

a) many webmasters don't recognize that there is something wrong, because they have ebay ads turned on and these ads disguise exactly as ebay ads in the complete texture.

b) it's right before weekend, so the adsense team won't do anything about it before monday at the earliest.

why doesn't google make sure, that an advertiser cannot use a landing page that is different from the domain in the ad? is it so hard to implement? this really bugs me, i tell ya..

8:55 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This is probably not an AdSense issue. It's more likely an AdWords issue. You will probably get a faster response reporting it to AdWords if you feel something shady is going on.

Read the AdWords terms and conditions first so you know what you're talking about when you send them an email. Good to be able to cite specific policies to describe whatever AdWords Terms you think they're violating.

10:56 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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In adwords I think it is ok to have a display url different from destination url as long as the display url exits... else I'm in big trouble.
11:02 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The display url has to match the final landing page.

The destination url and display url do not have to match.

12:25 am on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Whats the diff between final landing page and destination page?
12:31 am on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Whats the diff between final landing page and destination page?

A redirect?
Destination page redirects to the final landing page?

1:07 am on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The display url has to match the final landing page.
No way. The domain name in the ad's display url and the domain name in the ad's landing page url must match. Otherwise, you will get a nastygram from G and the offending ad will be disabled until fixed.

The destination url and display url do not have to match.
No, but the domain names of both must be the same, as stated above.

If the url of the final destination landing page does not match the ad's landing page url, the ad may be suspended pending a manual review. However G is known to have allowed exceptions to the editorial guidelines as long as the ad is not deceptive and the final landing page contents deliver what is promised in the ad. In other words, redirection of the landing page url MAY be allowed on a case by case basis, at G's discretion.

[edited by: RonnieG at 1:11 am (utc) on Jan. 20, 2007]

1:18 am on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Ok then probably another loophole in the system for smart people to exploit, not necessarily TOS violation. I know my destination and final landing is the same, so nice weekend everyone ;)
5:10 am on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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ok guys this is complicated: so in this case the destination domain does obviously not match the display domain.

---> display domain = www.ebay.de

---> user clicks

---> destination domain = www.blahblah.net

---> user is redirected

---> landing page domain = search.ebay.de

i have blocked ebay long time ago and therefore understandably also don't want any ads that redirect to ebay in my ad blocks. more than ever if they exactly mimic the "real" ebay ads in their wording.

it is very obvious to me, that the offender cheats the system as he displays ads with several different .net destination domains to redirect to search.ebay.de.

so what is this all about? the competitive ad filter only allows blocking per destination domain. so if i want to block the display domain, i have to find out every single destination domain of this guy that redirects to the landing page domain. are you serious?

and excuse me, it's rather an adsense issue as far as the blocking procedure is affected.

[edited by: moTi at 5:31 am (utc) on Jan. 20, 2007]

11:05 am on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I am confused. Where is the "cheating"? The advertiser seems to be behaving behaving properly. You should be able to block diplay url's. If you are having trouble, contact AdSense support.

It seems like the issue that you are having is that you do not want ads displayed for eBay, and the AdSense filters are not catching your preference, so it is an AdSense issue. No one is cheating, no one is a "fraudster". This is a standard affiliate ad that is going through CJ to get tracked, but the display url and the ultimate landing page are both eBay. eBay has a huge paid search affiliate base, probably with affiliates spending over 100K in advertising on them every single day. So, the affiliate ads are "real" eBay ads.

I think is confusion because of the term "destination url". "Destination URL" can mean the URL that a user is forwarded to after they click. And, "Destination URL" can also mean the final desination of the user. The former does not have to match the display url, while the latter does.

11:53 am on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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to avoid even more confusion, let's stay with my above mentioned notation.

It seems like the issue that you are having is that you do not want ads displayed for eBay, and the AdSense filters are not catching your preference, so it is an AdSense issue.

right, this is an adsense issue. but the post was moved to this forum.
in this case the adsense filter is not catching my preference, because it only blocks the domain that is linked in the ad (destination domain).
so if the destination domain (www.blahblah.net) is different from the landing page domain (search.ebay.de), the filter doesn't work for ebay.de.

Where is the "cheating"?

if it's not cheating, then at least this advertiser exploits a loophole in the system.

his ads are exactly like the ebay ads i have blocked long time ago (ebay.de is in my filter list):

widgets
find all about widgtes on ebay
www.ebay.de

so if i want to have this ad blocked, it is not sufficient to block ebay.de. i will have to block the destination domain he links to.

You should be able to block diplay url's.

no, i'm only able to block the destination domain. usually this is not a problem, because normally display domain = destination domain = landing page domain. the problem here arises because this advertiser uses a set of different destination domains for his ebay ads that all redirect to search.ebay.de.

[edited by: moTi at 12:22 pm (utc) on Jan. 20, 2007]

2:59 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Are you sure the sites are in your competitive filter? For example, do you have ebay.de, www.ebay.de, and search.ebay.de in your filter? Or, do you just have www.ebay.de? If you are blocking www.ebay.de, then search.ebay.de might not be blocked, you have to block ebay.de. Also, Are you sure that they are in your adsense for content and not adsense for search block list?

Again, I do not think this is intentional by the advertiser, it could be a problem with Google, but I think it is a problem with your preferences.

3:51 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Blocking ebay is tough.

We had a discussion on this, just a short while back.

[webmasterworld.com...]

3:54 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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It's quite reasonable to have a different destination url that redirects to the display url - its mostly used for tracking, not deception. As long as the final destination is the same domain as the display url its ok.

For example, someone might use a clickbank hoplink as the destination url, but the final site domain as the display url. Quite reasonable and no deception, the visitor goes direct to the site they clicked on.

4:04 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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kea, sorry, but your advice is for noobs. of course i have blocked ebay.de (which also blocks all other variations), like i said.
and of course my blocked domains are in the adsense for content block list.

no ebay.de ads have shown since i blocked them long time ago. now this advertiser suddenly pops up.

it is perfectly explainable: this is not a problem with the blocking filter not working correctly. all ads with the defined destination domain are blocked. it is rather a flaw in the system, because a cheater can circumvent blocking by altering his destination domain.

i did my best to describe the issue. please refrain from commenting, if you still don't understand or can't believe what i'm saying. thanks.

4:17 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Green_Grass, thanks for the link. at least i note that i'm not talking nonsense here as i'm not the only one affected. this blocking loophole is an open invitation for every scammer.
1:47 pm on Jan 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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My apologies for trying to be helpful I suppose. I had thought you had come to this forum looking for help with a problem. But slandering tracking URL's as cheating or fraud, took me aback a little.

I suppose I do find it suprrising that AdSense really can't block tracking urls. Otherwise, what would stop someone from creating hundreds of forwarding domains.

But, Since, this seems to be the case, as you are suggesting, I can only suggest contacting AdSense to have their engineers work on a fix for this problem. In the meantime, you can always use the AdSense preview tool to block the tracking URL's. There are probably only a dozen or so of them, and depending on the age of the ad, fewer than that.

3:56 pm on Jan 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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moTi:

I have long given up to be upset about this topic. I have seen such behaviour by several advertisers, and I have moved on to block the URL that is used for the redirect. Yes, it takes up one more slot of the filter, but that's the way it is. And I 100% agree that it would be great if Google would only allow a consistent user experience (i.e. display URL leads directly to the destination page, without redirects).

But there is also a welcome side effect from this - I noticed that the URLs used for the redirects are often used for several unwanted ads (not just for eBay), i.e. blocking these eliminates a bunch of other ads as well. Nice. :-)

6:46 pm on Jan 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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moti, it's a tracking URL as the previous respondents mentioned. NO fraud.

There are services like hyerptracker [google.com], software, and companies that help companies manage their campaigns. That's all this is.

9:24 pm on Jan 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I suppose I do find it surprising that AdSense really can't block tracking urls. Otherwise, what would stop someone from creating hundreds of forwarding domains.

this exactly is the loophole. you have to block the tracking url if you want to get rid of the ad. i suspect most of all publishers aren't aware of that let alone how to track it down.

you have to right-click on the link of a text ad and then choose "properties" to sort out if an advertiser uses a different destination domain. it can be found in the "ad-url"-part of the query string of the ad link.

moti, it's a tracking URL as the previous respondents mentioned. NO fraud.

right, excuse me for sounding so harsh. but it easily can be exploited from the advertiser side to sneak in unwanted ads. look, many of us have blocked ebay ads for good reasons. we don't want ebay ads, neither from ebay, nor from affiliates nor from some sneaky redirects.

to illustrate that i smelt something fishy apart from ebay ads suddenly reappearing in my ad blocks, here are the destination domains the mentioned advertiser uses to get his ads through (and which i have blocked by now). i have altered one character each time:

anqdoezrs.net
dpbolqw.net

hmm... why doesn't he use only one domain? and these weird ones? this guy has already spotted the loophole, others will follow. yesterday i blocked another one.

this is a major concern. google must enable its ad filter to block by display domain, which mandatory is also the landing page domain as i see it. and above all publishers must be enlightened about this blocking issue.

10:46 pm on Jan 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Just saw one on my site too from ebay.com

Display url = ebay.com (in filter for 2 years)
Intermediary url, destination url url, or whatever you call it = someotherdomain
Final landing url = ebay.com shop page

To block the smart...: get the intermediary URL using Adsense Preview Tool - click the ad (it's ok to click ads from official Google's preview tool), let googlesyndication.com URL load, as soon as you see the address in browser changing to someotherdomain, click Esc. Needs some training, as it will redirect to ebay.com fast. Tip: playing internet radio/video in paralel helps - slows down the connection ;)

Block the someotherdomain.

btw this thread really belongs to Adsense forum, we want to help publishers defend, not teach advertisers tricks right?

12:50 am on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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moTi,

anqdoezrs.net
dpbolqw.net

this is proof this is NO fraud. The urls you refer to are commission junction servers - those are affiliate link redirects. I would guess this affiliate has no idea they are appearing specifically on your site, they are just using standard CJ affiliate links.

This is NOT an attempt to defraud.

Incidentally, if you do block those servers you will prevent other CJ merchant sites appearing, potentially losing revenue.

Its fair enough to be annoyed by the restrictions the adsense filters place on you, but dont cry fraud. This affiliate is doing nothing wrong. Blame adsense for not giving you more control.

1:10 am on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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no foul intent? maybe. but i'm not convinced..
i guess advertisers would see the difference in their traffic respecably earnings stats as ebay domains in particular are blocked in many cases.

calculated or not, the problem remains: it is an exploitable flaw, it needs to be addressed and eliminated.

1:16 am on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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moTi,

I hate passing the buck, but this is really more of an AdSense issue. I'll alert the AdSense team that the thread has been moved here so they can take the feedback and potentially respond.

It doesn't sound like the AdWords account is violating any policies, but I'll have a look anyway just to be sure if you'd send me an actual query that will deliver the ad in question. StickyMail me the info if you could.

AWA2

1:22 am on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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if you do block those servers you will prevent other CJ merchant sites appearing, potentially losing revenue.

Or the other way around, advertisers should refrain from using redirects, as this may prevent their ads appearing on good publishers' sites (who care and defend their earnings).

peace ;)

4:18 am on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Or the other way around, advertisers should refrain from using redirects, as this may prevent their ads appearing on good publishers' sites (who care and defend their earnings).

Sorry, but most advertisers who know what they are doing use redirects in some form or another. What you ask is completely unreasonable.

This is nothing inherently fraudulent about using redirects. They are used by a lot of legitimate advertisers to track their traffic and control where it goes.

If you don't like the fact that advertisers do this, you might look for some other form of advertising then adsense.

7:34 am on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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MoTi, I should note that the reason for the various URL's is not to circumvent Adwords. But, there is a reason for it. These affiliate links are sometimes blcoked by third party software, Norton in particular was blocking regular affiliate links in regular old web pages.

So, that is the reason for the creation of new tracking domains in CJ. They get randomly generated by the CJ system when you create links. CJ used to have just one tracking domain, but they created a dozen or so in order to circumvent the Norton ad blocking (and other ad blockers). Nowadays, new eBay affiliates are required to use Rover tracking (you can Goo, and your filter should catch these as long as you are also blocking ebay.com (ebay.de affiliate links will go through ebay.com).

But, I bet there will still be "Legacy Links" from the domains that you list for years. eBay has been warning affiliates that Legacy Links soon will not track (they keep pushing back the date on that) and only Rover links will work sometime soon. So, I suppose the good news for you is that when Rover is fully implemented, it should be easier to block the eBay ads.

9:28 am on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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rover is not blockable on my sites. I have every ebay.#*$! variation filtered but they still show.

This thread needs to be in my normal adsense forum!

[edited by: Genuine1 at 9:29 am (utc) on Jan. 22, 2007]

9:35 am on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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no foul intent? maybe. but i'm not convinced..

You are totally wrong. Totally. The affiliates have NO CONTROL over whether they use those exact links, they will not get credit for sales made if they dont. You've now got publishers thinking theres some organised fraud going on using these domains, which is totally untrue.

PLEASE do some basic investigating before accusing people of fraud. Go to those root domains, you will see they are commission junction. The only issue here is adsense not giving you the ability to filter destination urls based on display url. Prevent people redirecting links through tracking / affiliate services (eg CJ and Clickbank) and you kill millions of dollars of legitimate (and high paying) advertisers overnight.

9:41 am on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

There is a lot of crap, however, that does come through CJ, for me at least, and since those URLs are too long (made so deliberately by CJ?) I've ended up from time to time having to block whole chunks of CJ.

1) G should clearly fix AS so that a blocked URL blocks *both* the display and landing-page URLs to stop this whack-a-mole variant.

2) CJ should rethink the way it generates its intermediate URLs if it doesn't want to force people like me to throw out all the babies with the bathwater the next time ONE of their clients goes bad.

Rgds

Damon

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