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Google Banner Site-targeted Fraud

Buyer Beware



3:16 am on Jan 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Tried their site-targeted banner and had interesting results. Most of the hits came from two sites. One called example delivered most of the hits but our logs showed they never stayed long enough to load in the site logo. Google says that people comparison shop so they 'add to favorites' and then move on. Fair enough (although most people do this?)

Ok, accepting that piece of logic as hard as it is too swallow we went to the site that was supposed to be showing our banner. It was nowhere to be found. We refreshed all the pages till the cows came home. No ad. Yet these phantom clicks were coming in 'as' we were there refreshing the ad. We were told that they are such a high traffic site that it was possible that we won't see the ad while others will. Fair enough but the logic is getting more and more difficult to entertain as even remotely possible.

On the page that Google's investigating team (which in my case must consist of one very lazy customer service rep) said that the hits are all coming from their main page. The same one that not only myself but I had 3 others in our company and one friend frantically refreshing trying to bring up our ad even once. (yes we are in a country targeted by the ad) ..still no ad.

Here's the kicker. No where on their site, ESPECIALLY the main page can they even 'fit' the extra large ad that we were promoting. Not even close. It's not a skyscraper but an extra large 728x79 pixel ad. No where and I mean no where on this site would this fit. Yet as I said, as we were all refreshing for the best part of an hour and a half...no ad appeared but the clicks came rolling in and our money kept rolling out.

After blowing a lot of money this way we did an ROI test. It came up 0, zilch, nada. Not one sale from these sites. Not one of these hits we tracked from the site we mentioned went past the first page. 90% never stayed long enough to load the stat pic and NONE went past the first page.

All we did here was finance Google partners who are obviously black hat, and Google once again, showed they don't care and just try to give you a positive spin on why you are so stupid that you don't understand how the web works.

Buyer beware.

Google, when the PPC bubble bursts, I will make sure I get a PUT trade on your stocks and laugh all the way to the bank as I make money while your stocks plummit from the lofty place you enjoy right now and that day will come. Their stocks are over valued anyway.

I posted this as a warning to my fellow webmasters and CFO's not to waste your money on these banner sites.

Do no Evil indeed.

[edited by: eWhisper at 1:36 pm (utc) on Jan. 23, 2007]
[edit reason] Please don't out sites. See TOS. [/edit]


1:05 am on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

And I agree. But what can you do?

How about stop advertising on content? Google unlike Yahoo allow you to opt out.

I will never advertise on content, there is still enough traffic on Google search.

Google produce about 50% of their revenue from content so they will not stop and will put up with the fraud as long as the numbers are so high.

Opt out of the Content match and if enough of us will do it then maybe it will make a different but then again look at Yahoo, we complain and complain about their "Fraud (search) partners" and nothing. Revenues are down, the stock is flat and still they keep them all.


1:56 am on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How about stop advertising on content?

We no longer advertise on content with Google, actually we haven't for over a year now (and wish we could opt out on Yahoo)

This posting was about us trying the banner ad campaign and the miserable failure it was and how the sites involved obviously were 'creating' the impressions and clicks because the ad was simply not there nor would it even fit on the page (it was very large). 2 sites combined for 96% of the impressions. Neither site had the ad showing.

Thousands of impressions - hundreds of clicks that didn't stay long enough to load a stat pic - money flowing out the window - 0 ROI.

My advice..if you try the banner campaign ..monitor the content sites carefully because Google doesn't.


2:01 am on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

By the way powerstar, I agree with what you said. The only way we can get our message across is with our dollars. That's why forums like this are important. If enough of us stay away from content ..that is the only message they understand - bottom line. But also like you said.. Yahoo didn't get the message ..they fixed everything but the problem.


2:49 am on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Where was the banner ad campaign running? not on Google's content network?

Voxman, i have no doubt your finding are accurate, unfortunately and fortunately for Google lots of Google advertisers are not tracking their results like me and you but they will learn their lesson eventually. We will find a better why to spend our advertising money because we have no choice.

There will be always a way to advertise on the Internet with positive ROI i think, its changed few times already.

It will be interesting to see if Google will cave to Wall Street when pressure for them to grow and preform will continue. Will they look the other way even more and allow content to do as they want like Yahoo? I wouldn't bet against it. Didn't they just sign up FindWhat as a partner?


3:36 pm on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Actually, Google is missing a trick here. If they policed their Adsense 'partners', and threw out the trash, they'd have to beat advertisers away.

Totally targetted traffic: the ultimate advertiser goal.


12:21 am on Feb 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

PPC in it's present form will not be here forever. Google rules for now but they should remember that they themselves were upstarts that took away the number one mantle from Yahoo. Only matter of time before an unknown comes out of nowhere to give them competition. Or perhaps, the first PPC site that can be 100% fraud free will take all the business away from them. Right now MSN has the best ROI. Maybe because they don't have a lot of spammy partners.. (yet?)

As long as the Internet architecture is open, there will be widespread PPC fraud. The answer is not to use PPC. Use fixed fees, which is far more difficult to defraud.


3:39 am on Feb 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

FindWhat as a partner?

That would be a new low for them. Yes it was on the content network. We were trying a banner campaign. See my original post where I explain it in detail

Actually, Google is missing a trick here. If they policed their Adsense 'partners', and threw out the trash, they'd have to beat advertisers away.

Very true


2:39 pm on Feb 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We've avoided the "content" side of things for years. Every time we would test it, the results are laughable compared to the Search side.

Search and content are simply two completely different beasts. Search is unique and special and highly targeted. Content simply is not. I'm sure their IS some money to be made on the content side, but it's alot more difficult to mine for and might simply not be worth the time effort you will have to spend to find it until Google delivers better tools to restrict content advertising and boots bad providers.


4:42 pm on Feb 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We spend a lot of money with Google, and have run content network tests 3 times in the last 3 years. We track click volume, time on site, sales generated, ROI, etc. Google's content network is a huge joke, and if you're on it, you're probably wasting more money than you know.


7:20 pm on Feb 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

awww come on..

Some of us content sites provide targeted visitors to you guys.

We like to eat to.


7:34 pm on Feb 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have Adsense, and I have an Adwords account.

I switched off the Adwords 'Content' option. The only reason to use it is if you've tons of money and you've maxed out 'Search'.

Even then, you choose keywords carefully, and the countries you'll accept hits from.

If you don't edit your keyword list, and let the whole world in, bye-bye cash.

I think Google is trying to give better value, but if it's chasing share price and quarterly returns, it tolerates this MFA sh*t. It's now causing its own problems.

If Adsense died tomorrow, half the Google index would lose its raison d'etre.

It just needs to resist its own greed, and nuke MFA sites. That would give two benefits: Better ad targetting = happy advertisers + a much slimmer index.


8:01 pm on Feb 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

If Adsense died tomorrow, half the Google index would lose its raison d'etre.

Sure, and if e-commerce or affiliate programs disappeared tomorrow, the other half of the Google index would lose its raison d'etre. But none of those things is going to happen, and in any case, AdSense is obviously performing for the advertisers who continue to use the "content network" month after month after month.

Getting back to the topic of this thread, I get the impression that a lot of advertisers who buy site-targeted CPM ads aren't being very selective. Why? Because some are bidding large amounts of money for a few impressions here and a few impressions there. In other words, they appear to be using CPM ads in much the same way as CPC ads instead of making an effort to target sites (as opposed to buying a massive Google list of sites that haven't been vetted by human beings).

The phrase "caveat emptor" applies to site-targeted advertising just as it does to buying no-name widgets from vendors with unknown reputations.


2:32 pm on Feb 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

while content isn't as good as search (they're browsing not buying), it's a huge source of inexpensive traffic. thankfully, in G, you can bid content separately and track it's roi separately as well. if you split it out, you'll often find it can be a very good source of traffic, even though it's markedly different from G & G search traffic.


9:52 pm on Feb 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Being a publisher I don't usually hang out in this forum, but I came over here today to see if there was anything parallel, about a problem we were seeing on the Adsense side. You might want to check the following topic on the Adsense forum: [webmasterworld.com...]

You mentioned you were using site targetted ads, so it might be connected. A few of us (obviously not intentionally doing any black-hat) recently noticed extremely high CTRs on channel/site targeted ads only. A couple of us even reported it to GAd support. The phenomena stopped a couple days later. The problem MAY not be the fault of the publisher you suspect at all, but instead a widespread GAd problem with site targeting.

In our case, the number of targetted ads being shown did not seem to exceed the number of page views we get, but they did go up in number relative to their normal levels compared to context ads, perhaps because they were getting such a high CTR which in turn raised their min. smart price which could then compete with the PPC ads? I don't know that much about how that's supposed to work, but it could be a clue.


7:33 am on Feb 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Thanks for the informative answer. One of the best from a publisher so far... but still ..that means stay away from our side of the coin.... Your survival may depend on cleaning this up.

This 45 message thread spans 2 pages: 45

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