How Google is ripping off advertisers

There has been much talk about click fraud and Google Adwords, a program for advertisers where you can bid for search words and place ads on numerous websites through the Google content network. But something that has gone largely unnoticed is how Google is making it easy for domain thiefs and domain miss-spelling sites to make a killing off of unsuspecting Google advertisers using the Google Adwords advertisement system.

The perpetrator: Google Adsense for domains

Until recently I wasn’t aware of “Google Adsense for domains”. Its a program that lets people own enough domain names set up domain parking sites that in essence only contains Adsense advertisements and no content. Placing ads on content free pages is actually against the regular Adsense terms and conditions and I would get in trouble if I did that on my blog or any other site I have. But the ads shown on these special “Adsense for domains” sites are not covered by the Adsense terms and conditions but rather the much less strict terms and condition for “Google Adsense for domains”

The scam

So what is the big deal you might ask? Well, my biggest problem with it is that I can’t avoid placing my ads on these suspect sites if I want to advertise on Google and on its search and content networks. There is no option in Adwords to exclude Adsense for domains sites. And the main reason I want to exclude these sites are that while they may provide clicks, the clicks that they provide are of close to no value. Primarily because users are lured to these sites and click around to find what they were looking for in the first place, and are probably unaware that they end up clicking on a paid ad. Examples of such sites are – a typo domain. Many cyber squatters are also using the Google service to earn money off of other peoples trademarks. F-secure – a manufacturer of anti-virus software has covered the problem with cyber squatters buying typo-domains for anti-virus software and earning money through the Google Adsense for domains program.

The solution

The issue isn’t new. Its been raised time and time again by advertisers on Google, but I guess the pressure has not been enough for Google to act. All the really have to do is to split their network into search, content and domains. That way we can all pick and choose where our ads ends up being displayed, and we will be able to advertise content networks without the fear of Google assisting in ripping its advertisers off through shady websites. It would also be good if we would all get better tools to guide our traffic to sites that makes sense for us.

Until that happens, do as I do: Turn off the content network and the search network and use all your money on Googles own search. If enough advertisers do this, I am sure Google will wake up and smell the coffee and do something about this mess.

More information about the impact of the Google Adsense for domains program

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