Mashable has a rare misstep today with its post "The Crowd Finally Gets It: They Can Group Up And Manipulate AdSense." The gist: People are using social media to urge others to engage in click fraud with Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaigh ads.
There are a few problems with this post, and with the strategy itself:
- Mashable refers to AdSense, which is the contextual program, rather than AdWords, the search-triggered ads in Google. It took me a minute to figure out how anyone could plan a movement to click contextual ads en masse unless they stumble on a marketer with an infinite budget and set up a fraudulent page to trigger the ads.
- This movement doesn’t have legs. It’s a flash mob, at best. And since advertising these days is so dynamic, Rudy’s online marketing manager can just suspend the ads for a couple days until this gets straightened out.
- This will easily trigger Google’s click fraud detection, so it’s likely that even if the Rudy AdWords campaign keeps running, Google won’t charge for the vast majority of the invalid clicks, and even if Google somehow didn’t pick up on it, Rudy 08 should easily have enough evidence for a refund if a ton of people clicked.
- Stan Schroeder from Mashable writes "AdSense is just too easy to abuse." Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. First of all, AdSense is incredibly hard to abuse; he’s referring to AdWords. Second, Rudy 08 can pause the campaign if they detect anything funny and have it run again. This is a long "purchase cycle" if you will; a couple days off won’t affect the polls much. Third, Google detects click fraud. Fourth, marketers have recourse if it doesn’t.
This is just sloppy coverage, and while Mashable may not be in favor of pulling its posts, it should offer a number of corrections.