Google Denies Accusations of Cheating Website Owners With Ad Manipulation

April 30, 2014 | Peter Yeh

In an anonymous leak, an alleged former Google employee, is accusing the company of deliberately trying to cheat websites who publish Google AdSense ads. The accusation, published on Pastebin, states that Google created a policy explicitly to steal profits, while turning a blind eye to “VIPs.”

Google executive Matt Cutts took to a popular developers’ forum, Hacker News, to rebuff the accusation saying, “This post strikes me as a conspiracy-laden fake, from the typos to wrong terminology to untrue policies to the lack of specific names of people… I would treat this as completely untrue.”

As any web dev will tell you, including testimonies on Hacker News, Google AdSense account bans feel arbitrary and reasonless, and appeals are ignored. I personally consulted for an evil SEO firm (before moving onto legitimate SEO) and their massive network of obviously fake blogs never seemed to get in trouble. If website owners believe the accusations, it would be a devastating blow to Google’s backbone — advertising. Google engages in in every form of advertising on the web — mobile, in-game ads, those little text boxes that are sometimes way too specific, etc. — but a third of their revenue is from AdSense.

Highlights of the Pastebin accusations include:

Bans just before you would have gotten a check: “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).”

Altering the widely used Google Analytics statistical tool to reduce profits by skewing data: “[S]tatistical data for a website using Google Analytics is not even close to being accurate. The numbers are incredibly deflated.”

A color-coded system to give immunity to “VIP” loudmouths that would raise a shitstorm if banned: “AdSense Quality Control Color Codes (commonly called AQ3C by employees). What it basically was a categorization of publisher accounts. Those publisher’s that could do the most damage by having their account banned were placed in a VIP group that was to be left alone. The rest of the publishers would be placed into other groupings accordingly.”

And ignoring a potential attack on legitimate publishers by opponents using AdSense: “A competitor or malicious person would actively go to their competitor’s website(s) or pick a random website running AdSense and begin multiple-clicking and overclicking ads, which they would do over and over again. Of course this would trigger an invalid clicking related ban.”

TechCrunch pointed out semantic inconsistencies compared to “lingo an ex-Googler would use”, and speculated that this self-styled whistleblower is just a “disgruntled, banned publisher.”