Simon Willison’s Weblog

AdSense Backlash

I guess it really was too good to be true. The AdSense backlash has begun, with Eric Thauvin’s dismissal from the scheme for “invalid clicks” prompting Russell Beattie to take a good look at the AdSense terms and conditions—which have some pretty nasty twists in them. The plot has thickened today with Google adding a new term prohibiting users from issuing any press release or mak[ing] any public statement about the subject matter of this Agreement. What’s that about?

Google are obviously trying to cover their backs against people who would abuse the system by clicking their own ads (manually or with a script), but seem to be using draconian measures to do so. This raises an interesting question: can a malicious third party deprive their competition of advertising revenue by setting up a script to follow their competitor’s Google ads, thus banning them from the service? I don’t see how Google could detect such shenanigans, especially given the number of advertisers within their system.

Let’s just hope the Google mantra “don’t be evil” wins out in the end. At the moment their AdSense programme is suddenly looking a lot less tempting.

This is AdSense Backlash by Simon Willison, posted on 2nd October 2003.

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Previously hosted at http://simon.incutio.com/archive/2003/10/02/adsenseBacklash