back to article Google accused of selling free clicks

Harvard professor Ben Edelman calls it conversion-inflation syndication fraud. We call it typical Google. In early February, at a net-conscious conference in San Francisco, Edelman exposed one of those online boondoggles that shows you just how much Google overplays the efficiency of its web-dominating ad system. Using a PC …


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  1. Pierre

    Hey I went to Google site with a virus

    And now I have a virus.

    Google is evil.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Give him a medal

    If you begin to type "," the first suggestion is "Search Google for expedia." And if you search Google for expedia, you get an ad for

    Targetted advertising. So Expedia searches match to Expedia adverts.


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Way to totally miss the point of the article. Give yourself a banana.

  4. Tam Lin

    The more things change...

    From a 16 July 1998 Netscape PR

    "...allowing them to go to Web sites using real words or simple phrases instead of complicated Internet addresses (URLs)..."

    I do recall a bit more resistance, but then Netscape wasn't making the necessary billions required to dull the press[1] with free trips, food, &c.

    [1] Does not include El Reg. As if.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    ok I'm just confused

    You mean in order to make a profit one has to be ethical about it? Well hell, that takes all the fun out of it...

    Mine's the one with "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" on it.

  6. David Wilkinson

    Google is getting too greedy.

    Real world analogy. Lets say a restaurant decides wants someone to hand out fliers ... so they offer this guy $.10 a flier to print some and distribute them.

    So the guy they hire just stands at the front door and hand the fliers to anyone already walking through the door.

    Resturant pays lots of money and gains zero customers.

    Guy handing out the fliers tells the owner how many fliers were printed and compares that to how many people bring the fliers into his resturant.

    The owner thinks the fliers are very successful and now offers $.20 for each one.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is a business. The punter have a right to know where their money goes, as is shown here. The point remains that this is a business. Meant to make money and they (Google) are good at it. I have rarely seen another company with some many different revenue streams on the same product that ALL appear to work. Good for them, bad for us.

    Buy some shares, if it annoys you that much.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Google is taking something that advertisers should be getting for free for all rights".... er, why is that, exactly?!?

  9. Chris Beach
    Thumb Down


    Ok so due to malware and squatters, advertisers don't know the quality of service Google provides. Yet somehow the problem isn't with the malware and squatters but Google?

    Does he really think the solution is for Google to 'fix' something and leave the malware and squatters where they are?

    I think he must have learn't his problem management skills from the government.

  10. Kevin Bailey

    This adware stuff looks dodgy anyway...

    I'm glad I get all my software from the Ubuntu repositories!

    Even though people have to agree to install this adware (and most will click 'OK' without thinking) it seems to me like a not nice piece of software. I'm not sure people would like it so much if users were told just how intrusive it was.

  11. Mo

    Er, hold on

    The problem here is that a piece of dubious AdWare is able to serve Google Ads.

    And, er, that's it.

    The fact that an Ad for RCN shows up - as a result of the adware - when the user is on the RCN site is down to the adware, rather than Google or RCN directly.

    Last I checked, Google didn't promote or endorse Adware (quite the opposite, in fact). Did Ben Edelman contact Google to alert them of this issue? What response did he get? -That- would be the story. Instead, this is just another "Google is not not evil" piece of puffery with little substance.

  12. Edward Miles


    Malware can be used for click fraud: More on this story at 11...

    This is Google's problem.... how?

  13. Jon Brunson

    @David Wilkinson

    Your analogy is flawed.

    You suggest that "the guy they hire just stands at the front door and hand the fliers to anyone already walking through the door." - which is not what Google are doing. The fliers aren't just going to anyone who are already walking through the door, they're going to thousands of other people who are looking for a resturant; any resturant.

    Yes a few go to those are "already walking through the door", but not all of them, and certainly not a high percentage of them are, and the only way the fliers are getting to those people are if the original guy (Google) hires a friend (Nbcsearch) who hires a friend (LocalPages) who hires a friend (WhenU) to hand them out on his behalf.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Nationalise Google!

    Here in the UK many years ago we had a similar monopoly on search facililites, run by the government. It was called 'directory enquiries' and free to consumers. Due to some atrocious misuses of statistics the arrangement was privatised and deregulated. It now costs a couple of dollars to get a contact.

    Redefine 'Evil' as appropriate to your aims.

    Mine has the roadmap of good intentions in the pocket.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    I read the rest of his various rants - to be honest the guy sounds like a Grade A Nimrod. It's cool to slag off Google (and hey, most of the time it's valid), but rather than slating the mal/adware WhenU, he blames this particular piece of crass analysis on Google?

    His other points all seemed to be about how paid search links makes companies pay for clicks they would have got anyway. Methinks he's out of his depth. Epic FIAL

  16. Gav
    Thumb Down

    What do you expect from Adware?

    The problem here is not with google, it's with the adware. It's not google that's plastering the browser with ads back to the existing site, its the adware. The only involvement google has is that the adware is using google ads, and is there much it can do about that?

    Any company that pays for clicks obtained through malware deserve being ripped off twice over. Once for encouraging malware developers to get their garbage on people's browsers, and secondly for trusting them to deliver genuine traffic. You lie down with dogs, expect fleas.

  17. unsung rob

    Shock Horror

    Ad broker tries every tactic possible to milk advertisers?!!?!?

    My god, i better sit down.

  18. Matthew Ellen

    Not blaming Google

    I'm with everyone not blaming Google. It sounds like much ado about something someone else is doing, i.e. the adware vendors and typo squatters.

    And getting annoyed with Google for using Chrome to increase its revenue? Um, surely you jest?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Nationalise Google

    "Here in the UK many years ago we had a similar monopoly on search facililites, run by the government. It was called 'directory enquiries' and free to consumers. Due to some atrocious misuses of statistics the arrangement was privatised and deregulated. It now costs a couple of dollars to get a contact."

    Not quite true,

    Directory Enquiries was free until BT started charging for it (first at 25p/call then 40p/call, though it was still free from phone boxes). This went on for a few years until Europe decided that the monopoly situation wasn't good, and that competition was needed. This competition unfortunately had the side effect of increasing the cost of directory enquiries.

    So you can blame BT for introducing a charge in the first place - had 192 remained a free service, it's unlikely that all those 118 numbers would have come about.

    As for this story, it's the malware's fault, and the point about Chrome is just stupid - typing "" into the browser will take you to the site, whereas only typing "expedia" will take you to the search results. This is exactly the behaviour I want - if I type a word or phrase in then it's likely I'm searching for pages based on that word or phrase.

  20. Anonymous John

    Google ads

    Wonderful example here on a news story concerning GBL.


    I don't need to say what some of the ads were for, do I?

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