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August 30, 2006

Google AdSense sued by woman who admits clicking her own ads

Theresa B. Bradley filed a lawsuit against Google for $250,000 for fraud and misrepresentation after they suspended her account for invalid clicks... and this when she admits to clicking on her own ads. According to Steve Bryant in this eWeek article, she contacted Google when competitive ads appeared on her site.

According to the complaint, Google then completely removed AdSense from Bradley's site and accused Bradley of violating AdSense policies by fraudulently clicking on advertisements.

Bradley denied clicking on the ads except to verify that the advertisers were not selling competing products.

Of course, clicking ads for any reason - including checking to see if advertisers were selling anything competitive - is clearly against the AdSense terms & policies, which states "Please note that clicking on your own ads for any reason is prohibited, to avoid potential inflation of advertiser costs." In doing so, she violated her agreement she had with Google when she signed up for AdSense and agreed to the terms and policies.

The website in question is www.bravacorp.com and she claims that it took her staff 100 hours to place and review the AdSense HTML code on the site. However, you definitely have to question that figure when she has such a small number of pages on the site (27 according to Google and 31 according to Yahoo), and it would be hard for just about anyone to take 100 hours to implement that.

The website itself is very poorly designed and is a mish-mash of many different topics and areas, and filled with things such as "Sample Projects" and "Illustrative Clients".

In addition to the fraud and misrepresentation, she is also claiming that Google has caused harm to her reputation over the incident.

According to the complaint, Bradley's brief business relationship with Google caused her irreparable harm by damaging her reputation and the reputation of her products and services.

Of course, Google never publicizes any publisher they suspend (unless Google sues a publisher over money earned fraudulently) so I am unsure how she will be able to say or prove that Google caused her harm because they suspended her for violating the terms she agreed to herself.

Google responded to Bryant that the lawsuit was without merit and would defend itself vigorously, while Bradley did not return multiple requests for a comment.

And interestingly, Bryant also notes that this woman also sued Yahoo earlier this month, so I will be watching to and see what he follows up with on that situation.

Does Bradley have a chance of winning? I don't think she has even a remote chance of doing so. She has admitted that she violated the terms and policies she agreed to by clicking on her own ads, and Google took the expected action of suspending her AdSense account. I can't see how Google possibly could have damaged her repuation or the reputation of her products (which one cannot buy on the site) because of this. Bryant also notes in his comments that "she filed the complain asking for $250k, she then filed in forma pauperis, meaning I'm too poor to pay court fees." Her motives are definitely suspect in this situation.

Forum discussion at DigitalPoint.

Posted by Jenstar at 09:59 PM | Comments (25)

August 29, 2006

Microsoft adCenter inviting selected advertisers into ContentAds pilot

Interested in the Microsoft ContentAds beta? Selected advertisers just received invitations to participate in the new ContentAds pilot, which begins running this fall.

The email invited advertisers received mentioned the various MSN properties than contextually targeted ContentAds would appear on, such as MSN Real Estate and MSN Money, as well as others linked from the main MSN portal. However, it was key noticing the exact text (emphasis mine in the following) and what it means for publishers.

Content Ads is Microsoft's next product that allows advertisers to place content-targeted, text-based advertisements primarily on Microsoft-owned properties including MSN Money, Real Estate, and many others within the www.msn.com portal.

This could conceivably mean that ads for this pilot could also appear on non-MSN sites, meaning publishers might be able to get into this program before it eventually (and officially) launches as a full-service publisher program similar to Google AdSense or Yahoo Publisher Network. This is pretty good news for publishers waiting for a new major player to come onto the contextual advertising scene, especially those who are looking for a small-scale publisher solution for those who don't have millions of impressions a month.

ContentAds will also be utilizing demographic targeting, geo-targeting and incremental bidding tools for all advertisements as well, so advertisers will have full flexibility on their ads appearing through ContentAds.

No ideas on how many advertisers have been invited to participate at this early stage, but I suspect these invites will be pretty hot. And yes, I have been invited ;)

Posted by Jenstar at 01:02 PM | Comments (18)

August 22, 2006

New Viacom and MTV video ads from AdSense

Just a few weeks after the announcement that Viacom & MTV would be partnering on a deal with Google to display videos through the Google AdSense program, the videos have begun displaying on publisher sites.

The ads, similar in appearance to other AdSense video ads, are displaying content from Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, The N, and Nickelodeon channels. The clips are a few minutes in length each. They are implemented through a separate javascript, not the usual AdSense javascript, and will be run by about 200 publishers on a variety of sites. Stats will be available through the publisher account on these streaming ads as well, in the referrals tab, even though it utilizes a different javascript. What is interesting is that this will only be run for four weeks.

Earnings are on a CPM basis, with each "view" occurring every time an ad - which are placed at intervals within the "show" being watched - within the video is viewed. There are two ad sizes being used for these ads, the 336x280 & 300x250 ad units. They must appear above the fold on the site.

For all the nitty gritty on these ads, here is the FAQ sent to publishers participating in this beta.

What is this?
Google is running an experiment with syndicated video supported by ads, to help publishers and video content owners better monetize their properties. Premium video owners provide Google with their content, Google matches the content with ads, and the site owner presents the combined product to their users.

The content to be displayed through these units is premium.
We're running this pilot to open the door to initiate branding concepts within the Google AdSense advertising model, and you've been handpicked to be one of the few exclusive partners to help launch this program. Advertisers ready to move forward are of the highest caliber, and the value-add of supplying this content is tremendous. If successful, these efforts will become more robust, and the end results will greatly enhance the user experience on your site.

What is the video content?
For the initial test, we will be using channels of video content provided by MTV Networks, such as from their Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, The N, and Nickelodeon channels. The video content is mostly short-form clips of up to a few minutes in length.

What are the ads?
For the purposes of this test, the video advertisements are provided by MTV Networks; the interstitial ads will be varying lengths (most 30 seconds or less) and shown between segments of the video content. For future syndicated video, Google will be leveraging its network of advertisers to match content to advertisement for syndicated video content.

How much money will I make?
Revenue is generated on a CPM basis, by the number of views on each ad inside the content. For instance, if someone watches the first three minutes of the content, and sees two interstitial ads, you will be paid for those two views. There is no payment unless a user has seen an ad within the content.

For syndicated video, the revenues will be split three ways, between the content owner, Google, and the site owner. For the purposes of this test, Google is not disclosing the three-way revenue split. Please also understand that CPM values and expected payouts at the end of this pilot cannot be disclosed at this time.

How do I add this to my page?
We will send you all necessary code amendments and modifications, which can simply be dropped-in to the source code of your page.

What is the unit size?
The embedded video player is the standard IAB 336x280 & IAB 300x250 size.

Do I have to put this in a certain place on my page?
You can place this unit above the fold (ATF) anywhere on your site, but keep in mind that you should try and optimize its position for playbacks.

How many impressions will I get?
As this is the first experiment of this type, we are not making projections of impressions or views. This video content, however, is only available to certain sites, so there is an element of exclusivity that your users may find attractive, and may help you get new visitors.

What if I'd like to display this Flash player on the sub domain (subdomain.root.com) of a pilot approved website?
Please respond to this email and let us know if this applies to your site.

Are we guaranteed to make at least as much as our ads would?For the purposes of this test, we are not making revenue guarantees or predictions. This is a new concept in Google advertising history and we have worked hard with our advertisers to secure inventory for this premium channel. Our expectation is that monetization will only improve as this channel, concept, and project becomes more built out, but until then, we're in full beta with this pilot. As such, your patience and collaboration is of extreme value to us.

Will ads be served through AdSense or will I have to implement another type of code?
Ads will be served through special video player code provided for the purposes of this test, though publishers will be paid through their AdSense account.

Will Google serve the highest paying ad/content or is this a fixed unit?
This is a fixed unit, serving only the MTV preferred channel content selected for your site. There is no auction of content for the purposes of this test.

Can viewers skip ad and content display? Do publishers still get paid if viewers skip ad display?
Yes, viewers can skip both content and ad display. However, users must begin to watch interstitial ads to qualify an ad event/impression.

How often does the video content refresh/change?
Content will likely change every three to seven days.

Will this player/content slow down my site?
No. As with Click-to-Play Video Ads, the video in this ad unit will not start buffering unless the user clicks on the play button. Publishers should not see any effect on site performance.

Do I have to reinsert the code when it changes?
No. By adding the video unit to your page, the content will automatically update without your changing the code on your site.

Can I have more than one unit on my page?
No, you can only have one of these video units per page.

Will the video unit be click-to-play, or initiated upon page view?
The video unit will be click-to-play, meaning initiated by the user, NOT upon page view.

Will there be alternate ad capability with these video units?
No. Since these video units are not standard ad units, you will only have the ability to serve this content through this pilot's unit.

Is there a separate legal agreement or will Google just serve through AdSense with the standard AdSense T&Cs?
AdSense Online Standard Terms and Conditions apply to this pilot.

How long is the pilot?
The pilot will span four weeks; we will provide pilot exit information prior to its completion.

Posted by Jenstar at 06:44 AM | Comments (2)

August 17, 2006

Third party downloads triggered by viewing Google AdSense

Several days ago, reports starting coming through about people being prompted to download third party applications on pages containing AdSense, prompting publishers to receive complaints from site visitors about the warnings of applications trying to auto-install. The applications, including Apple QuickTime Video, Adobe Acrobat, Flash, and Media Player 2, was triggered by a line of code contained within the http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js javascript code.

var plugins=new Array("image/svg-xml", "application/x-director", "application/x-shockwave-flash", "audio/x-pn-realaudio-plugin", "video/quicktime", "application/x-mplayer2", "application/pdf")

The problem first came to light on WebmasterWorld (free registration required to view), although the problem did not seem to be widespread, either dependent an individual user's current installed applications or perhaps if the issue wasn't accross all AdSense servers/datacenters.

Four days after the problem was first reported, AdSenseAdvisor confirmed that there was an issue with the AdSense ad code prompting users to download third party applications and that the problem has been fixed.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We encountered some technical issues that caused some visitors using IE to see download prompts for third-party add-ons or plug-ins. Our engineers resolved the issue right away, so ad serving is now back to normal. Don't worry -- all clicks and impressions have been recorded as usual. We're sorry for any inconvenience, and grateful for your patience during this time.


The issue was only seen by those users who were running Internet Explorer (both versions 6 and 7) when viewing the AdSense ads. There have been sporadic reports after AdSenseAdvisor posted where users are still prompted to download third party applications, but clearing the IE cache solved the problem. The offending part of the javascript has been removed from the show_ads.js script now.

This is a pretty significant problem, and I am surprised it took so long after it was first noticed to be corrected. I am guessing not very many of the AdSense team use IE, or they have every plugin imaginable already installed ;)

Posted by Jenstar at 07:03 AM | Comments (6)

August 15, 2006

Open AdSense for Search results on your own site

Since AdSense for Search launched in the AdSense program, those who utilized the site search would then be rerouted through to a Google.com landing page, which would result in a visitor being navigated away from your own site in the process. Publishers could set the results to open in a new browser window, but the end result was that the user would no longer be on your site, even if an ad did not end up being clicked.

AdSense has now changed it so that you can now generate the search results within your own site, and the results will show in an iframe.

There are complete instructions here so you can start showing AdSense for Search results within your own site.

Posted by Jenstar at 10:11 AM | Comments (2)

August 14, 2006

AdSense now reminds you how long it's been since you logged in

Just a minor change today in the AdSense control panel, AdSense now shows you when you last logged into your account. And not only does it keep track of the days, it also will tell you if you last logged in X minutes ago. I guess it will make those who only log in once a week feeling guilty for not logging in more frequently, and those who log in every fifteen minutes feeling a little too stat happy :)

Posted by Jenstar at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2006

Detailed analysis of the new AdWords landing page algo

A few weeks back, I wrote about the impending Google AdWords landing page algo, and how it could affect those doing click arbitrage. Since the new algo launched, I did an interview with Google AdWords on the new algo and wrote an extensive article on it, including my top ten list of best practices to try and reverse the increased bid prices that were the result of the new algo.

The article was on Search Engine Watch SearchDay. There is a member's only version and a shorter free version as well.

There is also a discussion about the findings in the article and what else people are doing to combat the new algo at the Search Engine Watch forums.

Posted by Jenstar at 11:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack