Archive for May, 2007

Adsense Arbitrage Sites Shut Down

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Finally Google gets some cahones and shuts these wastes of the Web down.

A quickie explanation, a Google arbitrage is the practice where a user clicks on a Google Ad only to get sent to a site with yet more Google ads. If you’ve browsed the Web, I’m sure you’ve seen these types of sites. The financial model works like this, the publisher of the site would spend say, $1,000 a day on AdWords to get visitors to his site and then see $1,400 in clicks from AdSense ads on his site. So the publisher would net $400. Do this with enough sites, and not only do you make crud on the Web, but you’d pull in some income.

I work with Google AdWords and I’m not surprised (in fact it’s a little late it seems) that this is going down. You see, the arbitrage sites hurt Google’s content network, so much so that advertisers have been pulling ads from it. (High CTR with low conversions.) In the past few months, Google has been reaching out to advertisers, calling and emailing, telling them what a wonderful deal their content network is.

Perhaps after these sites are banned the content network will be worth purposefully advertising on.

[tags]Google, Google AdWords, Google AdSense, arbitrage sites, the crusty parts of the Internet [/tags]

The Machine is Us/ing Us

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

It is very rare that I’d link to a YouTube video, but this is one of those rare times. A beautifully produced history and explanation of the Internet and the implications for the future, all done by an anthropology professor at Kansas State University.


[tags] The Machine is Us/ing Us, the Internet, the history of the Internet, these five minutes are so worth it [/tags]

Didier’s Drive-by AdWords

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Earlier this week, Didier Stevens gave me a heads up on an experiment (if you could call it that) he performed using Google AdWords.

You see, a few weeks ago there was a story written by Brian Krebs at the Washington Post which revealed that Google AdWords was being used as a vector to infect Windows machines.

So, after this news broke you would think that a)Google would do more to police the content of Google AdWords and b)that users would be more attentive in what Google AdWords they clicked on. Not so.

Didier, ever being the smart aleck, set up a Google AdWords campaign 6 months ago with an ad that stated expressly “Drive-By Download Is your PC infected? Get it infected here! drive-by-download.info”. Once the ad was clicked, the user was taken to a landing page which simply thanked them for their visit and logged each visitor. No visitor was ever infected.

According to Didier…

During this period, my ad was displayed 259,723 times and clicked on 409 times. That’s a click-through-rate of 0.16%. My Google Adwords campaign cost me only €17 ($23). That’s €0.04 ($0.06) per click or per potentially compromised machine. 98% of the machines ran Windows (according to the User Agent string).

As a bonus, Google has taken no action against Didier’s curiously worded AdWords ad. Nothing at all. That says a lot about Google’s quality assurance.

I have been working with AdWords for the past couple of years and all that I can say it that I find Didier’s experiment so hilarious in so many ways, I cannot even begin to describe it.

Update 5/16: Didier made Slashdot this morning and I’m seeing traffic from his previous spamdexing post. And for the curious, here’s my original post about mocked up Google SERPS on .info domains and putting mine and Didier’s findings together.

[tags]Didier Stevens, Google, AdWords, AdWords quality control, Windows exploits [/tags]

Apple Store Chile

Friday, May 11th, 2007

Well, kinda. There aren’t official Apple stores in Chile, but there are Apple resellers.

Thanks, Bert!

Update: More information about MacOnline in Chile at ifoAppleStore.

[tags]Apple, Mac, Apple Store, Chile, Apple Reseller, MacOnline [/tags]

A no frills kitchen

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

I sincerely appreciated this article in the NY Times detailing how to outfit a kitchen for about $300. The secret? Go to a restaurant supply store, where kitchen implements are much cheaper than the high end “culinary stores”.

You see, in a past life, I used to sell the high end expensive stuff on the Web.

[tags] Kitchen tools, Kitchen gadgets, Kitchen equipment, Kitchen implements, the real deal [/tags]

Mac OS X Safari 3.0

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

From an undisclosed source, I got a hit in my logs for what appears to be the newest version of the Mac OS X Safari Web browser. It’s at version 3.0 now.

Http Code: 200 Date: May 08 19:23:52 Http Version: HTTP/1.1
Size in Bytes: 15822
Referer: -
Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/522.6 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Safari/522.6

[tags]Apple, Mac OS X, Safari, Web browser, User Agent [/tags]

Google Referrer Using Redirect

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

So, just in the past couple of days, I started seeing the referrer URLs from Google.com in the following format.

http://www.google.com/url?q=http://cleverhack.com/category/tech/page/3/&sa=D&usg=AFrqEzf8B4L3sqq1hwGNYSLtBbO9HB8P3g

What’s unique about the referrer URL is that it’s a redirect and my logs are showing the incoming search term as http://cleverhack.com/category/tech/page/3/ from Google, which doesn’t seem right at all. In a perfect world you’d want to see incoming search terms such as “cleverhack” or “tech blogger” or “needs a date on Friday” not the URL that Google served and the person clicked through on.

I’ve been seeing IP addresses from all over - lots of Comcast, Verizon, Bell South, so it’s definitely real people making the requests, but why Google is using a redirect, I don’t know. Is this a side effect of iGoogle?

[tags]Google, iGoogle, Google Referrer, Google URL, Can I get a job at Google? [/tags]