Late last year I noticed that when you clicked on the “Advertise on this site” link on an AdSense ad unit, if the person had not customized their site targeting landing page, it would reveal either the personal name or the company name attached to the AdSense account.
At the beginning of the year, I blogged about how you could spy on AdSense sites to find out the personal details of the person behind a site’s AdSense account, even when the “Advertise on this site” was not active on an ad unit. It was an interesting way to find out who was behind a site, even with hidden whois details.
Today, however, I noticed that this privacy loophole has been finally closed. I happened to view a Google cache version of a webpage, and clicked on “Advertise on this site” to see if who I thought was behind the site really was. And instead of seeing a company/personal name or a customized site name, I saw the large Google cache URL in its place. A screenshot is below (click for full size) although I removed the actual URL of the site I was looking at.
If you have previously customized your name that appears on the site targeted landing page, it would appear as you customized. The new cases of showing the actual URLs of the page you clicked “Advertise on this site” from are the ones where the publisher left the landing page at the default one supplied by Google.
This change was a long time coming, although I am surprised it took them this long to fix what I first noticed in November of 2005. And those who were using it as a sneaky way to find out who was behind an AdSense account are not going to have that nice loophole to work with anymore.