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Ad 'quality' meets scam shilling

Website security in corporate America

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Google is applying the same logic to its ad engine that it applies to, say, YouTube. If users post copyright-infringing material, Google will remove it - if the copyright holder makes the request.

But search ads aren't viral videos. In addition to stepping on Adobe's copyright, those bogus Acrobat ads are cheating everyday web surfers. And they're eating into the profits of legitimate advertisers. A click gained on www.Power-PDF9.com is a click lost on so many other "sponsored links." Plus, AdWords is ostensibly an auction. Bids from one advertiser boost prices paid by another.

And, unlike a YouTube video, a search ad is a direct source of Mountain View income. You could certainly argue that Google chooses to turn a blind eye because a blind eye juices profits. The Acrobat problem is just one example.

You could also argue that AdWords is far too vast for Google to police every scam ad. Kupferschmid makes this argument. But that brings us back to the Google AdWords pitch. After an ad platform revamp in early September, Google's ad coverage leapt 18 per cent during the third quarter. Profits jumped 31 per cent. And Google's Willy Wonkas said this was largely the result of certain "quality improvements."

"As far as the quality announcements [rolled out in early September], it was one of the bigger things we did in the quarter, and these things tend to manifest themselves in terms of their impact reasonably expeditiously after they're launched," Google Senior VP Jonathan "Perfect Ad" Rosenberg said during the company's most recent earnings call. "Most of the benefits of the typical quality enhancements occur very, very quickly."

So, when Google cranked the dial on its epic money machine last quarter, it did so in the name of quality. But what does quality mean? As you can imagine, "free stuff" AdWords scams have been an issue for ages. And the Adobe Acrobat keyword is hardly an AdWords backwater. We know from conversations with multiple advertisers that this particular area has been a problem for months - and that Google has received countless complaints.

Kupferschmid wonders why, at the very least, Google doesn't institute a fine for advertisers caught pirating intellectual property or scamming consumers. "That way, maybe these sites would think twice before advertising on Google," he says.

The US Communications Decency Act likely protects Google from legal action over deceptive ads. And if it responds to takedown notices, there's no consequence for posting piracy-driven ads. But if quality is Google's concern, shouldn't it go further?

Or does Google see quality in www.Power-PDF9.com? ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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