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Nasty Business: How To Drain Competitors' Google AdWords Budgets

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the this-one-weird-trick dept.

Advertising 97

tsu doh nimh (609154) writes KrebsOnSecurity looks at a popular service that helps crooked online marketers exhaust the Google AdWords budgets of their competitors.The service allows companies to attack competitors by raising their costs or exhausting their ad budgets early in the day. Advertised on YouTube and run by a guy boldly named "GoodGoogle," the service employs a combination of custom software and hands-on customer service, and promises clients the ability to block the appearance of competitors' ads. From the story: "The prices range from $100 to block between three to ten ad units for 24 hours to $80 for 15 to 30 ad units. For a flat fee of $1,000, small businesses can use GoodGoogle's software and service to sideline a handful of competitors' ads indefinitely."

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Advertised on YouTube? (3, Funny)

phonewebcam (446772) | about 3 months ago | (#47542879)

Hey, so I don't get to see those "your content will play in 5 seconds" prompts if I use their service? Cool!

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (4, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | about 3 months ago | (#47542927)

If you run adblock, you won't anyway.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543103)

Yeah, didn't even know they used Flash ads there. Now I must apologize to everyone I have ever sent a Youtube link to and never, ever link it to anyone again.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (3, Interesting)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 3 months ago | (#47543265)

Sites can detect that Adblock is on board and some ask you to adjust the settings or die. [goodanime.net]

I predict that's the way things will be in the future: "Don't want to see ads? Then, leave. We already provide 'free,' content. We will not provide content for ABSOLUTELY free."

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (4, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 months ago | (#47543295)

People who run adblock aren't going to click on the ads anyway. I'm sure it makes them better to get all self-righteous about it, though.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (2)

jythie (914043) | about 3 months ago | (#47543509)

Yeah, but part of the economics of running ads is number of eyeballs, so the people clicking or not is not always that important.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (4, Insightful)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 3 months ago | (#47544147)

Eyeballs bring awareness, and the hope that future purchases will be affected just by familiarity.

That works great for brand names available at the grocery store when you are already primed for buying. It does not seem to be effective if I go to a place like amazon with the intent to buy, and that product or service is not available.

Traditionally, eyeballs and click conversions have been measured, with a huge weight given to clicks. Again, brand awareness is hard to measure other than in general purchase trends. But it makes no sense to ignore the importance of click conversions and focus on eyeball measures only, or largely, or even a smallish percentage.

I have not read anything in the last decade that makes me think that in any way, a measure of eyeballs is significant in general. For anything other than brand awareness, people who would not click anyway have no need to see the ad, and eyeball measurements don't add anything.

Statistics are only meaningful when they are interpreted and understood, and eyeballs is effectively a number without meaning. It is a small part, and not worth niggling about. Especially when the point is that people who won't click don't give any benefit from watching something they won't click. Brand awareness on something that is not going to be on a list of shopped for products is throwing money away, and paying for people to watch ads they don't care about likewise.

That's why targeted advertising is such a big deal. People realize that pure eyeballs are nearly meaningless, your objections to the contrary.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (5, Interesting)

Sanians (2738917) | about 3 months ago | (#47544367)

Clicks are an equally worthless metric.

A friend wasted some $75 on Google Adsense trying to expose a free game we've made to more potential players.

As it's similar (but not too much) to Minecraft Classic, we figured we'd just try to get Google to show an ad to the side of searches for stuff about Minecraft Classic, and some people might decide they're interested and check it out.

As Google presently showed no ads whatsoever for searches for "minecraft classic" and a few other search terms we wanted to display ads next to, we assumed this would cost us almost nothing, that they'd be willing to display them for a penny as we didn't have to out-bid anyone. That couldn't have been further from the truth. The minimum we could get any advertising for was $0.25/click, and none of that was on Google's search results.

Half of the clicks came from random web sites with the most horrible games (as in, there was sound and graphics (ripped off from other games), but no playability whatsoever) which displayed a dozen ads on each page with one of these games. Thus, those clicks were completely worthless to us as they were likely all coming from three year olds who simply didn't know what they were doing. Chances of a three year old downloading a game, installing it, and running it aren't that high, and we weren't interested in three year old players anyway.

The other half came from paid search result placement on altavista.com. These clicks were also completely worthless. Just think about it: You're searching for something related to a game you like, and you get sent to a web site about a completely different game, so what do you do? Do you say "yay, I'll download and play this instead" or do you just immediately click the back button and look for a search result that's related to what you searched for? We specifically wanted ads to the side of people's search results because then they'd know that what's over there isn't necessarily exactly what they're looking for and so they would only click on the ad if they were interested in finding a new game. Paid search placement may increase the number of clicks we get, but it ensures that those additional clicks are as close to worthless as can be imagined. Think about it again: How long would you stick with a search engine that does this? Only morons and five year olds use Altavista. Not our target audience, and if you're trying to sell a legitimate product or service, probably not your target audience either. On the other hand, if you're trying to scam people out of money, paid search result placement might be exactly what you're looking for.

After going through $20 on these worthless clicks, I looked up the statistics of how many of the IP addresses ultimately ended up playing the game. Normally about 50% of the IPs that visit the web site end up downloading our game and 30% (60% of those who download) connect to the game's servers, but not one of the people who clicked these links even downloaded the game.

This is the kind of bullshit you end up with when you consider that clicks are the only important thing: a system optimized to give you clicks at the expense of any sort of quality placement.

Anyway, it seems that if you want results displayed on google.com, you have to pay at least $1 per click. The adsense interface gives you all sorts of BS reasons about why your page won't display ads if you offer less money than that, but it's all designed to make you think there's some legitimate reason you can't figure out until you ultimately give up and just decide to give them more money and see if that fixes the problem. In particular, the supposed metric of the quality of your landing page is almost a random number generator -- just wait a while and it changes, as it's apparently chosen by monkeys. Eventually my friend paid the $1 per click, despite my objections that the whole deal was a huge scam, and as far as I know we got nothing for that either.

The one thing my friend did that did help was to list our game on www.indiedb.com as the people who showed up from there, while only about a dozen each time he's updated our information, were honestly interested in our game, downloaded it, tried it, said it was great, and never played again. (Our game's main issue is that it's just not that interesting.) That didn't cost us a penny and it was the best advertising of all. Needless to say, if our game ever does become interesting and we want a few more people to look at it, we won't bother with Google Adsense again, we'll just go to Indie DB.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (2)

AlXtreme (223728) | about 3 months ago | (#47546381)

As you discovered, advertising is only worthwhile if you are reaching the proper audience. Adwords should be a last-resort as it is way too easy to cast a very wide net and takes quite a bit of effort to tweak.

From your description you had the 'content network' enabled in Adwords, which is indeed a very easy way to waste your budget on useless visitors. The content network means that your ads could be shown on all the sites out there that use Adsense (I think you mixed Adsense and Adwords: Adwords is Googles ad-delivery platform and costs money, Adsense shows those ads on non-Google websites and allows the website to earn money).

Stick to the 'search network' (Google.com and related sites) only and limit your keywords to only the most relevant ones. Google will automatically broaden searches, so learn how to adjust your keywords to limit their range and use negative keywords to avoid matches on irrelevant searches.

Also, I've often seen Google mentioning that I should set the cost-per-click higher as my ads weren't showing, but they were showing regardless.

So for those of you looking to use Adwords: start off slowly and know that just as you are tweaking your keywords and prices, so does Google tweak their algorithms to get the most out of advertisers. You don't become a megacorp by giving out free lunches.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (3, Interesting)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | about 3 months ago | (#47546427)

You've just stumbled on one of google's business models: there are millions of new ideas every day, those turn into many thousands of startups, majority of those think that google advertising is the way to get the word out... each of them spends a few hundred dollars (at best...at worst, some of them spend many thousands of dollars) on Google... and shortly afterwards they go out of business. And this repeats every day.

The winner in all this? Google. Heck, they don't even have to care about repeat customers to make moneh every day.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | about 3 months ago | (#47546965)

I think what you've discovered is that you can't put up ads for something similar to what people are searching for, thinking they'll consider buying your product instead. Searching for somethng is a very narrow task. "Is THAT what I want?... no. Is THAAAT what I want?". It's not really a time when people are open to new ideas.

So I don't think Google adswords is a "scam". If it was, Google would have been out of business long ago. What you need to realize about marketing is you need to get the consumer at the right TIME. There's periods of time when people are far more open to something new and interesting. But it's most certainly not when they're looking for something specific.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47547731)

I know of a small (under 5 person) software company that spends around $1 million USD on ad words and gets a 10:1 return on their investment. They found a niche in every day computing, wrapped a little bit of code around some open source software, and capitalized by effectively targeting their demographic. They are not successful because they have a great product, it's because they spend a lot on adwords. There are many of alternatives to their product and most of them are free (because the core libraries are open source), but they get enough click-through to make the sales.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (1)

Sanians (2738917) | about 3 months ago | (#47547871)

Oh, that reminds me of another thing that pissed me off about AdWords: All their little success stories. They're quite obnoxious, and all have the sound of being made-up bullshit, much like your own post. Pretty much all of them amounted to different wordings of "it's totally possible to remain profitable while paying us $1 per click." I recall one story of a yoga studio in some particular city. It at least sounded plausible, but only because I can easily imagine just how over-priced such a thing might be as it likely only caters to the wealthy, and as such can afford $1 per click. ...but still, you have to imagine that a great many of the people who clicked such an ad didn't buy the services, be it because they ultimately decided to join a different gym, because they simply decided to do yoga at home, or because they were already a paying member and simply saw the ad as a quick way to return to the web site. So in all they probably paid Google $100 for each new customer, but if you're raping them on the order of $600/year, you can probably afford to do that. ...but still, there has to be a cheaper way to find your victims.

Re: Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47549735)

Who are these parasites?

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47552279)

They should switch to a system where a click followed by a purchase using Google Wallet (so Google can verify purchase) is the metric used to price advertisements. That lets everybody know what they're paying for. If I was selling a product for $100 and Google charged $10 per click-purchase, I'd pay it.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 3 months ago | (#47544429)

We all have paid at the cash register in over priced produsts and products that are missing a few OZz like 12 oz instead of a pound. That fill advertising budgets so I am not viewing for free. I have already paid. so have you.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47550965)

I run no-script and feel in no particular way about using it, let alone self-righteous. I have difficulty focusing on reading stuff when there are flashing distractions above, next and in the middle of the content. I don't want to have to guess which clickable headers are part of the site and which would send me elsewhere.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543323)

Fuck you and your ad-drenched "content".

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

penix1 (722987) | about 3 months ago | (#47543497)

I predict that's the way things will be in the future: "Don't want to see ads? Then, leave. We already provide 'free,' content. We will not provide content for ABSOLUTELY free."

If you have advertising on your site, then your content isn't free and it is false advertising to claim it as such. It simply is being paid by proxy. A more apt statement would be advertising supported.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543521)

And those sites will lose business to ad-supported sites that DO allow AdBlock to run, because people will support them over a site that forces ads to run. You really have to be able to create a content gap with either ad revenue or subscription revenue to complete. Subs, I can see that. Ads, I simply do not.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543593)

Disable Anti-Adblock [mozilla.org]

Try that. Also it pays to use NoScript with minimal temporary whitelistings and perhaps remove some of its default whitelistings, such as Google etc.

As others have said, those who use AdBlock don't click on ads anyway, but as not said often enough, they will recommend your site to those who do if they get decent service there while not even mentioning that they run AdBlock etc till someone complains to them about the ads. If they aren't seeing things that annoy them, then why rant about it to an often unappreciative audience?

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (3, Interesting)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 3 months ago | (#47543659)

If the site is one I may want to see again, I will e-mail thewebmaster to let them know about the adblock "allow inoffensive adds" feature and how to get whitelisted. Some have ignored me, and I have ignored them. Some have responded negativly, and I found other websites. But some have responeded very positivly and thanked me for the info and link. Those sites, I support.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 3 months ago | (#47543693)

I'll always leave adblock enable on those sites that make (empty) threats. Everything on the 'Net has an alternative source, and users smart enough to use adblock are smart enough to find alternative sources.

If they ask nicely to show ads, like DuckDuckGo does, then I may allow them through.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (1)

DivineKnight (3763507) | about 3 months ago | (#47544053)

Because there's no way for browsers running on OUR machines to sidestep that...it's foolproof. Yep, better give up, and start watching those ads...

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47545931)

Except that site is nothing but a middle man for pirated videos. Why the fuck would a view their ads when they don't do a thing? Even if I wanted to watch cartoons, I could find a direct link to anything I'd want with a 5 second search on Google or TPB. In fact, I think I'm going to go through the videos that they link and flag them for copyright infringement on the various services they are hosted from to help get the paraSITE (get it?) shut down.

Also, when I went to the site, AdBlock asked me if I wanted to block AdBlock targeted ads, which I did. Of course the videos didn't work because they stupidly link to the Flash versions. Apparently they aren't aware that HTML5 is what people use now.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47546227)

Sites can detect that Adblock is on board and some ask you to adjust the settings or die. [goodanime.net]

I predict that's the way things will be in the future: "Don't want to see ads? Then, leave. We already provide 'free,' content. We will not provide content for ABSOLUTELY free."

This is easily countered. Consider an ad blocker that downloads the ads and runs their scripts - but simply doesn't display the ad graphics/movie/content on the user's screen. Can be done so there is NO WAY for them to detect it - other than the user never clicking on anything. But many user never click on anything anyway . . .

Advertised on YouTube? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542953)

Hmm, you are gay.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (1)

Andrio (2580551) | about 3 months ago | (#47542973)

Advertised on YouTube? That's some Insanity Wolf shit right there.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543165)

I just googled GoodGoogle and I can't seem to get to see their ads.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 3 months ago | (#47543181)

More interested in a copy of the binary itself. Warez the beef?
A level playing field begins with everyone armed equally, LOL.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543239)

For me, these are the most annoying ads I ever encountered. I am slowly developing a neural reflex when I spot these, I immediately type "adblock plus" into google.

K. Kulhavy, Twibright Labs [twibright.com]

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543929)

i think you should type "adblock edge"

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 3 months ago | (#47544377)

The 'you can skip in 5 seconds' ads amaze me. Presumably the people using them know that they have 5 valuable seconds that everyone can see, yet they uniformly squander them. I've almost never seen an ad that tells me anything interesting in the first 5 seconds, which isn't that surprising, but it's really surprising to me that most don't even tell me what the product is. Several that I've seen use the first 4 seconds to fade from black, then get 1 second of something incomprehensible before I hit skip.

Re:Advertised on YouTube? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47548843)

The best use for the 4 seconds have been ads that say "please don't press here yet" =)

Lemme guess... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542963)

GoodGoogle only accepts bitcoin?

Simple, block all ads (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542989)

I block all ads and have for the better part of a decade. Too many worries about malware, improper handling of info, tracking, you name it. It's a bad business model, anyway. I not met too many true geeks who feel much differently. If someone's business is built on something that can be manipulated and blocked so easily, the business model sucks to be sure.

Re:Simple, block all ads (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543247)

Why is this off-topic post modded up? Who cares if the OP doesn't personally see ads?

I can bid for the exact name of your small business with Adwords, and make the advert divert to my competing business. And there's nothing you can do about it. What do you think about that business model?

Re:Simple, block all ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543519)

I think you're an asshole and your business model is the business model of an asshole.

Simple, block all ads (4, Informative)

mhollis (727905) | about 3 months ago | (#47543597)

You (and Greyfox) do not seem to understand what Google Ads are. They are, for the most part, not the display advertisements one tends to see on websites. Instead, they are textual only and associated with search or with websites that open up space on their site for text ads.

Ad Blocking software allows them to show and always has. And that is because they are unobtrusive and not annoying.

All of my browsers have some kind of ad-block technology in them. And the Google text ads show just fine, thank you.

Re:Simple, block all ads (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543701)

Ad Blocking software allows them to show and always has. And that is because they are unobtrusive and not annoying.

This is false. For a good while when it started AdBlock (the most popular blocker plugin for FF) blocked even Google Text Ads. More recently they've started recommending that people allow unobtrusive text ads, but the option to block even those is still there, and works fine.

Source: I tried disabling AdBlock temporarily on Google Search, and a bunch of new ads showed up that I hadn't seen in years thanks to AdBlock.

Re:Simple, block all ads (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543731)

Well, good for you. My browsers have all the ad-block tech I can throw at them, including filtering text ads. I don't want ANY ads, thank you.

Re:Simple, block all ads (2)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 3 months ago | (#47543739)

Ad Blocking software allows them to show and always has. And that is because they are unobtrusive and not annoying.

All of my browsers have some kind of ad-block technology in them. And the Google text ads show just fine, thank you.

False with regards to Adblock Plus. http://tech.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

Re:Simple, block all ads (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 3 months ago | (#47543769)

I pasted the wrong link. Change to allow some ads by default was in 2011: http://slashdot.org/story/11/1... [slashdot.org]

Re:Simple, block all ads (1)

Animats (122034) | about 3 months ago | (#47544531)

Right, that was when AdBlock sold out to Google. [theverge.com]

Re:Simple, block all ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47548177)

I do not know how all that is handled, but it *could* actually be a good thing for both users and advertisers..
How much malware has been distributed via bad ad-networks?

Use the money to pay for screening the ads distributed from the different ad-networks from time to time.. If they do not follow the rules about the advertised content, and how ad's are designed (blinking / irritating animations etc) they would be removed from the white-list...

I do not care about some static ad-image that just sits on a page not trying to get attention (it might even read it!). But i do not like the tracking and irritating ads that blinks or moves around, or those that are flash-animations..

Let me decide what type of ads i accept and i would consider not blocking them all..

Re:Simple, block all ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47548373)

It's never a good thing for users. Why the hell would I ever want to see an ad?

Re:Simple, block all ads (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 3 months ago | (#47547543)

You (and Greyfox) do not seem to understand what Google Ads are. They are, for the most part, not the display advertisements one tends to see on websites. Instead, they are textual only and associated with search or with websites that open up space on their site for text ads.

Ad Blocking software allows them to show and always has. And that is because they are unobtrusive and not annoying.

No, those are the Google-braned ads. Google Ads encompasses ALL of Google's ad products. Including most of the malware laded ones since well, Google owns like 98% of the online ad market.

And Google distances themselves for some reason - Google owns AdMob, DoubleClick and many other "irritating ads" and "malware ad" networks. And other than Google, I haven't seen a Google text-style ad in ages. (And surely not ones where Google pretends to be part of the search results).

There's no difference anymore, because Google owns it all. Sure they don't WANT you to know that, but all those ads you see in apps and on websites are almost all by Google or a Google-owned company.

Any marketer worth their salt knows why Google doesn't put their branding on DoubleClick and AdMob, but they also know that those are the kind of ads Google makes most of their money on.

Re:Simple, block all ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47548683)

...And that is because they are unobtrusive and not annoying. ...

They are both fraudulent (most people are fooled into thinking they are organic search results) and extremely annoying. Google doesn't make them look like ordinary search results by accident. It's a deliberate act to skirt anti-fraud law.

Re:Simple, block all ads (1)

mhollis (727905) | about 2 months ago | (#47577979)

well I got skooled here. I did not know that AdBlock did block Google Text ads. The versions I have pass them by default.

But they are not fraudulent. The ones that are listed at the top of search, Google places on a yellow background, so you know that they are not natural search. The rest are to the right of natural search and are clearly labeled. Furthermore, Google examines all landing pages from these ads and makes certain that the stuff in the ads relates to the stuff on those pages. If it doesn't, Google quits showing the ads.

I do know this because I do work with clients and try to get the most out of their non-display advertisements. I do not think what my clients are doing is fraudulent. Additionally, I work with them to try to increase the amount of information on their websites so that natural search works, as well.

Re:Simple, block all ads (0)

geekmux (1040042) | about 3 months ago | (#47543645)

I block all ads and have for the better part of a decade. Too many worries about malware, improper handling of info, tracking, you name it. It's a bad business model, anyway. I not met too many true geeks who feel much differently. If someone's business is built on something that can be manipulated and blocked so easily, the business model sucks to be sure.

Companies do not blow millions on advertising because they think there's an equal number of millions coming in from actual sales revenue.

The business model exists as a business expense and therefore exists to reduce the companies tax liability.

Let's put in this way. How many people do you know that have actually bought something from an online ad?

Yeah, I can't think of anyone either. Ever.

Now take a look at the advantage they get from writing millions off running pointless Superbowl ads.

From their perspective, the business "model" is working perfectly because of corporate welfare. Get rid of that shit, and we would likely see a 90% drop in advertising.

Re:Simple, block all ads (3, Informative)

mspohr (589790) | about 3 months ago | (#47543895)

I am trying to understand your logic here and it just isn't happening.
I appears that you are postulating that companies spend money on advertising only to reduce their income and not to increase sales.
I would think that companies would rather have the extra profit than waste money on pointless advertising.
Besides, there is a lot of research showing that advertising works which is why companies advertise.

Re:Simple, block all ads (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544065)

It's not only research which shows that advertising works. Google was able to sell ads at the time of its founding because they offer more detailed tracking about how well an ad is working than other advertising mediums.

Digital advertising always includes ways of tracking how well it works which means that it can't grow beyond its usefulness, except in three cases:
  - ad networks with buggy or dishonest tracking, like the recent video ad scandal (_not_ involving Google)
  - MBAs are like lemmings and sometimes get themselves all lathered up fapping to some new thing, like "tablets" or "apps" or "social".
  - extortion as practiced by Yelp, and as many people believe Google Maps is doing (though probably because "non-transparent behaviours" + "Leninist reasoning" and not because they're right).

Re:Simple, block all ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543927)

Hold on there. Tax write-offs (of the kind you describe) reduce taxable income at the high end margin. So assuming the tax rate is 100%, and the ad spending has zero return, the company is better off not spending the ad money.

Re:Simple, block all ads (4, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | about 3 months ago | (#47543995)

The business model exists as a business expense and therefore exists to reduce the companies tax liability.

That is the dumbest thing I've heard all year.

Re:Simple, block all ads (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 months ago | (#47544291)

So much competition, but I'll second the motion.

Re:Simple, block all ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47548193)

Many years ago when i ran a site i had quite a few ads... I got quite a bit of kickback from people buying things after clicking on ads...

Not a really big site but got around $0.01-$0.05 per user every third month... Did take closer to 6 month's to get the amount of ad's and type of ad's dialed in... If too many or to irritating you could see a jump in usage of adblockers and with the wrong type of ads you would get no clicks whatsoever... Targeted ad's for the type of audience, but never using user-targeted, seemed to work the best... Think it could be that if people see a user-targeted ad for something that does not fit the site-content they become weary of what's going on..

Re:Simple, block all ads (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 3 months ago | (#47544997)

It seems that a lot of internet companies make their money from adds. If this buisness model was so bad it would have stopped decades ago.

So how do you propose web sites to be funded. People don't like a pay wall, ISP will not pay you for their customers visit. If your site doesn't meet the need for the greater common good then you probably won't have the government or some other large grant funding you. However you have costs to pay for. The add model is the best we can get unless you know of some superior buisness model.

Re:Simple, block all ads (1)

Sciath (3433615) | about 3 months ago | (#47568103)

How about reputation as a "business model"? If a business has a good and unique product or service then reputation should be it's marketing strategy as opposed to deceptive and intrusive ads. Sure it might take longer to build a customer base but all that means it may take a few more years of quality product or service to make it into the 1%. But you're going to spend fewer resources on meaningless advertising. But it also means you are committed to the satisfied customer and that you see your "job" as a career as opposed to a get rich quick scheme. Everyone wants immediate wealth because of their "brilliant" ideas. Instead of taking years, even generations, to build up a reputable company. Good products and services sell themselves.

A lousy way (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543045)

If I can trace that this attack-company is attacking my ads because my competitor paid them to do so, I would think that would be evidence that my competitor is liable for anti-competitive action. I imagine this is likely to be easily trace-able.

With Tor and all thems type of technologies, something like this could probably be quite difficult to trace. But, that is assuming that this attack-company has gone through the effort to make things difficult to trace. When I find scenarios where a company could invest in doing things in an effective way, or may just try to do things simply and cheaply and ineffectively but still sounds good on the surface (when marketing the services), I usually find that security and intelligent design and other good and useful things have been neglected.

Rather than pay one of these scumbags of ill repute, I'd rather focus on improving my own business's image. If the other guy can make a buck or two as well, that may help to grow interest in our industry. And when I've collected a few bucks of my own, I can stop the other guy from competing against me by buying him out. Works out well for me. Works out well enough for my competitor. Doesn't work for scumbags who act as dealers of virtual arms, hoping that I waste my efforts trying to hurt the other guy.

But, I do know that not everyone shares my positive views in life.

KrebsOnSecurity looks at a popular service that helps crooked

Helping crooks is popular? That is just sad. Very, very, very sad.

Re:A lousy way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543201)

Everybody is assuming this actually follows through.

Paying some Russian to do this? How can you be sure he doesn't take you money and run?

You can't do anything about it.

Re:A lousy way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543303)

KrebsOnSecurity looks at a popular service that helps crooked

Helping crooks is popular? That is just sad. Very, very, very sad.

"Computer security", of which Krebs is a part, is populist too, donchaknow. Meaning that the status quo in computer security land on either side of the law is very, very, very sad.

A lousy way, possibly doubly lousy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47545129)

From Krebs, it sounds like this service clicks on your competitor's ads to exhaust their budget.
But, if that works, doesn't it teach Google that your competitor's ads are very popular?
This will drive down the price that Google charges.

So, it seems that when you *stop* using this service, Google will show more of your competitor's ads, and at a lower price. It might well end up better for them in the long run.

That's why I dropped AdWords (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543063)

The ease with which one can sink a competitor's listings is part of why I dropped adwords a few years ago. I couldn't be sure, but it did seem odd that my listings would be regularly exhausted early in the day, without any indication that the site visits were from real potential customers.

Re:That's why I dropped AdWords (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | about 3 months ago | (#47543111)

Depends on the audience of the web sites your ads were displayed on. If you were, for instance, advertising for a US company on a site that had lots of viewers from Europe, the exhaustion early in the day might have been legitimate. Europe is a few time zones ahead.

But if adwords does not give you statistics about this, I agree that dropping them would be the smart thing to do.

Geotarget your AdWords (4, Interesting)

xenoc_1 (140817) | about 3 months ago | (#47543213)

Depends on the audience of the web sites your ads were displayed on. If you were, for instance, advertising for a US company on a site that had lots of viewers from Europe, the exhaustion early in the day might have been legitimate. Europe is a few time zones ahead.

If your intention is to advertise only to the US market, which is what I assume from your example, you're doing it wrong if you are even showing AdWords to audiences in Europe. Unless, of course, they are using a VPN or proxy or other means to browse with a US-based IP address.

Heck, you can target down to individual zipcodes, Congressional districts, counties, Metro areas, and a bunch more ways. No excuse other than ignorance if you or your clients ads are running in an entirely different continent.

If you want your ads for your US company to appear in Europe as well as in USA, then you need to create a sufficient AdWords daily budget, plus perhaps do time of day targeting. Or to be better at it, have separate AdWords campaigns for each geo, with separate budgets, even if you're using the same ads.

There's a lot I don't like about AdWords, including how Google loves to split functionality into different menus and services and levels of products to create massive confusion about how to use them. Like WTF isn't there one single thing that has all my ad budgets, my analytics, my webmaster tools, my everything-about-it, all in one damn place? Or to use another, non-ads example, Google Voice can be used as VOIP from a computer, but only by a not-well-explained combo of Google Voice + Google Chat + Gmail page + Google Talk plugin, something no non-technical "normal person" will ever discover. Some of that dysfunctional UX comes from Google's only-engineers culture, but on the advertising products I think some of it is also deliberate ambiguity so you will inadvertantly spend more. Same reason that in USA and many other jurisdictions, Google will not let you prepay for a fixed spend, only postpay - they like that you can't quite control it, and the house always has the edge.

But they do provide geotargeting tools, rather good ones. So no excuse if your ads are running in the wrong locales.

That doesn't make the sleazy service abusing AdWords any less evil themselves. But if the ads are eaten up by wrong geolocations, whether from that sleazy service or just from legitimate browsing clicks in the wrong countries, that is the advertiser's own fault for not using the control Google gives them.

Re:Geotarget your AdWords (1)

YA_Python_dev (885173) | about 3 months ago | (#47545165)

You know, right, that you can set a daily budget limit in AdWords and Google won't go over it?

Re:Geotarget your AdWords (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 3 months ago | (#47546251)

One reason that advertising is so confusing with Google is that they been gobbling up hundreds of different advertising companies in the online space.

Re:That's why I dropped AdWords (3, Interesting)

ranton (36917) | about 3 months ago | (#47543315)

You should have to worry about not being sure. Just look at your conversion rates. While it is hard to identify how many of your sales you would have gotten anyway without AdWords, it is very easy to tell how many of your AdWords customers are actually purchasing anyway. And the last time I worked for an e-commerce site was 2008, I'm pretty confident that their analytic tools have improved since then.

Re:That's why I dropped AdWords (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 months ago | (#47543753)

I'm not sure what you're trying to say here, if your AdWord campaigns are being sabotaged it's extremely hard to say what your conversion rate should have been without the sabotage unless you've got really good historic data to show we used to get good leads but now we get crap. For example if my botnet all likes to visit Google and click your ad links, but never buy anything. Yes, you know the conversation rate is very low - as a few real customers are in the mix - but it doesn't tell you anything about who or why, it just looks like random IPs visiting and not buying. Nor do you have any obvious reason to sue, it''s not illegal to visit and leave without buying. To use a real world analogy, it's like you have an organized band to clog up your stores, circulating and acting like customers but ending up just browsing. I've done that in real life, exiting the store without never buying so individually it's not unheard of. But if hundreds or thousands did that in an organized fashion, there'd be trouble as legitimate customers would pass on your store because it's too crowded, even though they have no intention of buying..

Re:That's why I dropped AdWords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544095)

if your AdWord campaigns are being sabotaged it's extremely hard to say what your conversion rate should have been without [snip]

sabotage increases clicks, not conversions.

The sabotage is dramatic since it's intended to use up the whole budget quickly early in the day and stop further ads from appearing, while normally the budget lasts 1 day. That's the point of buying the spam to the competitor: not to cost raw ad-spend money, but to bleed the budget dry so the ads don't appear anymore. It should be trivial to see when it's happening.

Re:That's why I dropped AdWords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544861)

The category I was listing in was pretty expensive (at least so I thought, I'm not very wise about AdWords). All I meant to say what that it was clear that any competitor could make my listing fall off the google results page with a few clicks every day. I don't have any idea if anyone was doing it, but it seemed like a fragile way to spend money every month. I doubt anyone had engaged a firm to sabotage my listings in an organized manner, simply because it'd have taken so little to do it manually. If I was renting a billboard, everyone passing it would see it. With AdWords, it was obvious that with very little effort someone could make sure that virtually no one saw my listing. I just didn't like the whimsical nature of it. All I knew was that was google sure to eat up whatever I was willing to offer them .

Re:That's why I dropped AdWords (1)

jafiwam (310805) | about 3 months ago | (#47548937)

You can control what time of day the ads are displayed.

Try avoiding the times when they are being used up, or try focusing on when your potential customers are on and using computers.

I have been wondering for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543185)

Slightly off topic, but not sure where else to ask.

Fraudulent ad-click generators exist, and they're designed with the intention of not raising suspicion on part of the user/site owner.

What would happen with say, a firefox add-on which did the opposite: Generate a large number of fake clicks in short time with the intention of getting someone booted from Adsense( or whatever)?

If it was set to fire indiscriminately, I can't help but think this could give a relative small group of users a 'nuclear option' for de-commercializing the internet.
But 'Nuclear' would be a rather appropriate metaphor. How much of the net depends on ads to keep running?

Eventually it would just be a war between the advertisers trying to filter out the noise and the noise-makers becoming better at avoiding the filters.

Click fraud joe jobs (2)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#47543255)

What would happen with say, a firefox add-on which did the opposite: Generate a large number of fake clicks in short time with the intention of getting someone booted from Adsense( or whatever)?

Wikipedia is aware of the existence of joe jobs [wikipedia.org] in click fraud: see Click fraud#Non-contracting parties [wikipedia.org] . Google is supposed to be able to detect this [stackexchange.com] . And apparently AdSense publishers who become the victim of such a joe job are supposed to report this to AdSense staff [google.com] . But like you, I'm not certain as to how Google's response to such problem reports can scale.

AdWords can be big business (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543193)

Expedia and its sub-brands have a nasty habit of bidding for the exact name of virtually every major hotel in the world.

So when I search for the name of the hotel that I run, the first search on Google will always be a paid-for advert. When somebody books my hotel through Expedia, I then have to give a percentage of the room revenue to Expedia. Unfortunately they are also our biggest customer - very few major hotels can afford to do without Online Travel Agencies.

Expedia and sub-brands had an AdWords budget of around $650 Million in 2013.

I would dearly like to see GoodGoogle try to exhaust Expedia's ad budget for a flat $1000 fee. Heck, I'll give them $2000.

Hm (1)

bytesex (112972) | about 3 months ago | (#47543313)

1) This service will survive for all of two weeks tops - it's him against the collective power of Google. I put my money on Google.
2) Ads should come inline with the other HTML, as well as associated images. It's not difficult, and adblock can never really find a solution to that.

Only if it's in google's interest to block this (1)

Mirar (264502) | about 3 months ago | (#47543457)

...only if it's in Google's interest to block services like this instead of asking the victim to pay more money.

Re:Only if it's in google's interest to block this (4, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 3 months ago | (#47543545)

...only if it's in Google's interest to block services like this instead of asking the victim to pay more money.

It is. If AdWords fail to provide a reasonable return people will stop using them and the price will drop significantly, cutting into Google's revenue. It's definitely in Google's best long term interest to stop this kind of thing.

Re:Hm (1)

zonk the purposeful (444367) | about 3 months ago | (#47543549)

> 2) Ads should come inline with the other HTML, as well as associated images. It's not difficult, and adblock can never really find a solution to that.

Out of interest, how do you do it with google adsense?

Re:Hm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544097)

Make an apache plugin to pre-cache the ads on the site's webserver, then instead of fetching out to google every time for the whole ad, just get authorization for one of the cached ones, then inline the ad and serve the images from the same server and send stats back to google.

Re:Hm (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about 3 months ago | (#47543669)

What would be the best way to setup a "more difficult" to bock ad service?

Could one use cloud services, and have the clients issue DNS sub-domain entries (content.CompanyName.com) pointing to the service which then provides the images? Of course the IPs could be blocked relatively easy.

What about providing companies that want to serve ads with a small web server that you control that serves the ads (it would appear internal, just sub-domain)? It would reside outside the DMZ, so security concerns on the companies part could be mitigated.

I don't mind static image ads (although I hate it when I purchase something on Amazon and then get served Amazon ads for the thing I purchased). But if it is not static then I despise it.

Re:Hm (1)

hawk (1151) | about 3 months ago | (#47546167)

>I don't mind static image ads (although I hate it
>when I purchase something on Amazon and then
>get served Amazon ads for the thing I purchased).
>But if it is not static then I despise it.

It's not just ads; it's *anything* that blinks & runs around while I"m trying to read. In fact, I've never blocked *anything* just for being an ad, and I block much of what sites fancy to be "content."

Stay still, damnit, I'm trying to read!

hawk

Re:Hm (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about 3 months ago | (#47546557)

I recently gave up on CNN.com because every story is a video (but not marked as such, some articles are clearly marked as videos), and they are all auto-play. And they have video ads that play on the front page.

Every day it seems that the world is moving towards Idocracy, I love the movie but hate to call it poignant. It's like a documentary from the future.

Re:Hm (1)

Dwedit (232252) | about 3 months ago | (#47543681)

Adblock has element hiding, so if the web designer makes a <div class="adbox"> or something, that's really easy to override the CSS on to make it invisible.

Re:Hm (2)

Vellmont (569020) | about 3 months ago | (#47546887)

1) This service will survive for all of two weeks tops - it's him against the collective power of Google. I put my money on Google.

And if that were the matchup, I'd agree. But remember Google is an enormous company, with many problems. This is a minor little annoying fly buzzing around the office. If the fly lies low, it can survive for quite a while. If it bites the wrong person, or becomes too annoying, it's going to get swatted rather quickly.

So far it looks like the fly has managed to lie low enough to not be much of a concern (The article mentions the service has been around for 2 1/2 years).

Free Market (4, Funny)

inode_buddha (576844) | about 3 months ago | (#47543425)

It's the Free Market (TM) at work, doing God's Work (TM)! Why do yuo hate America!?!?!?

Re:Free Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543589)

Indeed. If advertisers paid fairly (per impression), and Google paid hosting sites fairly, there wouldn't be a problem. GoodGoogle is just reversing Google's scam. If Macy's wanted a full-page ad in the NYT for their white sale and offered to pay based on sheet sales they'd be laughed out of the office. Yet Google is doing just that on behalf of advertisers and laughing all the way to the bank.

No one was seen again (2)

Liger_XT5 (1055672) | about 3 months ago | (#47544155)

Businesses A and B don't want each other on Google. Both use the service. Neither were seen again. Winner? Middleman, the service.

Re:No one was seen again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47546453)

Don't forget Google. They still got paid for the ads that nobody saw.

Not that I like ads but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47544761)

While I don't like the ad filled wasteland that the Internet has become, I don't see how this guy can stay out of court. Why doesn't these competitors being blocked sue the crap out of him for lost business and unfair/unethical business practices. Advertise all you want, but directly attacking a competitor is doubtless illegal.

Do It Yourself (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 3 months ago | (#47545145)

Last time I worked in a corporate environment I heard a few stories about the tactic of continually clicking on competitors ads to cost them money.

Re:Do It Yourself (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#47545665)

Most productive hours PHBs will ever have.

Re:Do It Yourself (1)

Vellmont (569020) | about 3 months ago | (#47546905)

Shit, if people actually DO that, I'd put out ads specifically so competitors would go try to click on them. Why? Because every minute they spend clicking on ads is a minute they aren't doing any work trying to compete with me.

Alternate Approach: Suspend Competitor's Account (1)

Gunfighter (1944) | about 3 months ago | (#47546893)

Is your competitor putting Google Ads on their website? Are they making any decent money off of it? Click on their ads repeatedly until Google suspends their account.

This happened to me, but not from a business competitor. I put some Google Ads up on my WoW guild's forums hoping it would help offset the cost of hosting. One of our rival guilds on our server ran up the clicks to the point where my account was suspended for click fraud and I was no longer permitted to place Google Ads on ANY websites, even after an appeal.

click exchange group (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47548203)

google adsense click exchange group make $$

http://pastebin.com/yzRtByur

Yer on yer own... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47553111)

Back in the days of the wild west, you were never more than three steps from your gun. ...and so it is in the wild cloud.
The LAW is too busy busting potheads and speeders to worry about untoward activities here in the mist.
Yer on yer own pardner,,,

Do Sa Nim ;-D

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