Did Google order staff to 'steal' web ad cash from publishers? THE TRUTH
Mountain View advertising king scrambles to set record straight
Google has denied allegations made by a self-styled “former Google employee” – who claimed he was ordered to take part in “theft of money” from “thousands upon thousands” of publishers using Google AdSense.
According to a missive posted anonymously onto Pastebin on Tuesday, the web king told its staff in 2009 that it would begin axing accounts of online publishers who were making too much cash out of displaying Google ads on their sites.
The Mountain View company dismissed the claims as "complete fiction."
Among other things, the uncorroborated whistleblower alleged that the "first big batch of bans [on publishers] happened in 2009." The explosive post claimed:
We were told to begin banning accounts that were close to their payout period (which is why account bans never occur immediately after a payout). The purpose was to get that money owed to publishers back to Google AdSense, while having already served up the ads to the public. This way the advertiser’s [sic] couldn’t claim we did not do our part in delivering their ads and ask for money back. So in a sense, we had thousands upon thousands of publishers deliver ads we knew they were never going to get paid for.
Google reaped both sides of the coin, got money from the advertisers, used the publishers, and didn’t have to pay them a single penny.
They kept saying it was needed for the company, and that most of these publishers were ripping Google off anyways, and that their gravy train needed to end. Many employees were not happy about this. A few resigned over it. I did not. I stayed because I had a family to support, and secondly I wanted to see how far they would go.
The alleged "extreme quality control" practice went on for years with the largest number of bans coming in April 2012, it was claimed.
The supposed insider accused Google of threatening AdSense employees with lay-offs if they failed to "enforce the company's wishes." All the fun of working at Mountain View apparently washed away with the alleged demands.
It was further claimed that complaints from some publishers whose money didn't materialise were "erased without even being opened" by Google.
Legal action from other publishers was settled out of court, according to the Pastebin post.
By December 2012, Google – it was claimed – brought in a new policy, dubbed AdSense Quality Control Color Codes that was internally known as AQ3C. It allegedly grouped publishers into different categories based on how troublesome they were to Google's bottom line.
Google's tactics eventually led to incorporating its other services into "assisting the 'quality control' program," the alleged whistleblower claimed.
"What they came up with will anger many users when they find out. It involved skewing data in Google Analytics," according to the Pastebin post.