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asLast night, an anonymous person claiming to have worked for the Google AdSense department “for several years” posted a statement titled “Google AdSense Leak” on Pastebin which supposedly details a standardized practice of fraud within Google.

The full document is a bit all over the place and unclear in many parts, but the allegations can be broken down to a few key points. According to the anonymous accusations, Google experienced financial issues in 2009 and the AdSense team was told to “tighten the belts” as Google was having to pay too many publishers too much money. To curtail this, the department put a secret initiative into effect that would ban publishers making more than $5,000 per month from AdSense, beginning in March 2009.

The practice becomes especially shady as the supposed Google employee states “We were told to begin banning accounts that were close to their payout period… The purpose was to get that money owed to publishers back to Google AdSense while having already served up the ads to the public.”

The accuser also says they were told the reasons for these practices was that “it was need for the company, and most of these publishers were ripping Google off anyways, and their gravy train needed to end.” Employees who disagreed over the practices were supposedly reprimanded and ridiculed for not being team players, and a small number allegedly resigned right then.

From there, the statement claims that Google wanted to further automate the process, so it set up the “AdSense Quality Control Color Codes” system intended to identify lucrative publishers to ban, while protecting larger corporations or publishers who were likely to create bad press.

The claim says some publishers were even aware of the system and took advantage by “Click-Bombing” their competitors. “Click-Bombing” is supposedly a practice where publishers would repeatedly over-click their competitors’ ads to get them flagged and banned by Google’s fraud detection service.

If true, these accusations could do significant damage to Google and expose a company culture of corruption. However, numerous analysts have found red flags all throughout the text indicating it is a farce. TechCrunch has a pretty thorough take down of the claims. Most importantly, it doesn’t appear the creator of the document ever worked for Google, at least within the “AdSense division”. For one, there is no formal “Google AdSense division” and a Google employee would more likely refer to it by the official internal title “Online Sales and Operations”.

The writer also seems to be unaware of Google’s extensive company culture. He refers to “being a team player”, but several have noted that actual employees call that “being Googley”. There are countless other discrepancies throughout the document, mostly relating to using terms that those inside Google would not, but there are also issues with the writer’s understanding of AdSense policies and internal functionality.

The biggest problem is more than vocabulary inconsistencies and wrong information. As repeatedly pointed out by pretty much everyone who has read the article, the biggest issue is the flawed belief at the core of these supposed policies. While this strategy could potentially save Google significant money in the short term, it would absolutely destroy their long-term platform viability. Google works with more than 2 million publishers and paid out several billion dollars to publishers and advertisers last year. Why risk a lucrative advertising platform’s future for a short term (relatively small) savings?

Of course, Matt Cutts has also issued a statement via Twitter calling the claims B.S. and Google has issued formal statements indicating the claims are false.

It’s that time of year again. Today is April Fools’ Day, and following with tradition the internet has become littered with jokes and pranks that range from confusing, to mildly chuckle-worthy. We decided to collect the best of this year’s gags, but obviously there is no way to assemble every joke posted today. You’ll just have to use your best judgement before you believe anything else you read today.

Unsurprisingly, Google has numerous April Fools’ pranks spread across their apps and services, with varied results. Google Chrome announced Google Translate would now support Emoji, which is a cute idea that undoubtedly made quite a few people smile. It claims to be built into Chrome for Android and iOS, and the tool lets you, “Read all your favorite content using efficient and emotive illustrations, instead of cumbersome text.”

Of course, the announcement was accompanied by a YouTube video, as well as text examples that actually served as the inspiration.

AdSense also made an announcement on Google+ that their reporting system is going cosmic. With the new “Top planets and moons” reports, advertisers can gain insight on how their ads are faring throughout the solar system.

“With our recent discovery of the interplanetary IP address repository, you’ll have access to even more reports that can help you improve user engagement on your site,” the post proclaimed.

topmoonsandplanets

But,  Google’s most popular April Fools’ joke this year ended up going online before the holiday even arrive. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Google has kicked off the first ever Google Maps: Pokemon challenge. If you update Google Maps for Android or iPhone, you are able to follow in Ash’s footsteps and try to catch ’em all.

To get started, users tap on the search bar at the top of the screen, and tap the small icon labelled “Press Start” with a Pokeball beside it. You’ll be immediately transported to the Pokemon Lab, with the pocket monsters spread across the landscape. Users tap the Pokemon to catch them, and gradually fill the Pokedex while scouring the globe.

Of course, the title of Pokemon Master is too good to be true, so don’t expect an awesome job at Google for the effort.

Surprisingly, I can’t seem to find any official pranks from Twitter or Facebook. Usually they try to get in on the fun in some way. In fact, the biggest jokes on social media this year appear to either be Reddit’s announcement of ‘Headdit’ or Bill Clinton’s use of his Twitter account to parody Hillary Clinton’s infamous photo of her working aboard a military plane.

HT_hillary_bill_texts_jtm_140401_16x9_608

Clinton’s gag is pretty self-explanatory, but Headdit is another matter all together. Using your webcam, Reddit has made a system that maps your face onto Reddit’s mascot, the alien known as Snoo. It actually works, although it is a bit glitchy. You can ‘upnod’, ‘frownvote’ and even enable a cat mode when your felines show up on camera.

Did you find any other notable April Fools’ jokes this year?

Google AdSenseIt seems something odd is happening over at Google AdSense. While there is always a pretty much constant stream of complaints coming in about drops in CTRs (click through rates), they are usually isolated cases. Most often, an individual is simply experiencing a problem and their issues are easily resolved.

But, over the past week there has been an unusually large number of people complaining at both the Google AdSense Help and WebmasterWorld forums that their CTR have declined significantly in the past weeks. As Barry Schwartz noticed, not only is the number of threads enough to raise an eye, but there are some who are saying this is having a big impact on their earnings. Clearly something is afoot.

Some quotes from commenters include:

My blog traffic still increasing but adsense earnings dropped from three days. I have a message from adsense help as “Your earnings were 76% below our forecast”.

and

At the risk of getting screamed at for asking this question (yet again). My ctr went down the last 3 days (Sunday,Monday, Today) a whopping 75%!

Not everyone is experiencing the drop in CTR (Schwartz himself has seen an increase), but this appears to be a widespread enough issue to cause some alarm. The world isn’t ending, but you should probably check out your own CTR to make sure everything is alright.

According to an announcement from Google late last week, you can now opt out of five new ad format options when creating AdSense ads.

Their announcement said:

“These enhancements are designed to improve the performance of your ads, but we know that sometimes you may prefer not to include them. Based on your requests for more control over the ways ads are served on your site, we’re happy to let you know that you can opt out of the following advanced ad format features[…]”

  • Similar Sized Display Ads – This feature shows smaller ads that are performing highly in larger ad units
  • Enhanced Text Ads – Displays text ads with performance enhancing features such as product ads or clickable arrow icons.
  • Expandable Ads – Displaying rich media ads that can expand beyond the original ad size after a user-initiated action.
  • Enhanced Display Ads – Shows display ads with performance-enhancing features such as mouseover highlights.
  • Animated Display Ads – This feature allows you to display non-static ads that were created using Flash or animated Gif formats.

AdSense obviously isn’t rolling back these new features, but simply trying to give publishers more control over their ads. More control is never a bad thing, right?

Google themselves have actually gone on and approved of this.  For anyone sitting on an empty domain, paying the yearly fee and having nothing but dreams of what giant business you’ll build on it can get old.  Google’s gone and offered to help out with parked domains using AdSense.

For anyone who isn’t completely sure what AdSense is, Google AdSense is one of the easiest ways to put advertisements on your site.  You sign up, set up your ad banner specifications, then place the code where you’d like the ads to appear in your site.  You earn money for every click a visitor to your site administers to the ads you’ve placed.

However, it isn’t all perfect – Google gets rather upset if you put AdSense on your site and then click on it many times yourself or have your friends do it.  Repeated clicks from the same source will flag a warning to them, and they can ban you from AdSense.  Permanently.

That, and any time someone clicks an ad, sure you earn money, but you also lose your visitor.  They’ve gone off somewhere else, and you’ve lost that potential client/customer.  Some people are fine with this, thinking that if the person clicked an ad they were leaving anyway – but there are often instances where an ad catches the eye of a visitor who would otherwise have spent more time on your site.  If you don’t want to distract your visitors from your own site content, I’d recommend minimizing your ads, be it through AdSense or otherwise.

However – having a domain that is unused is not going to lose you any visitors to a quality site.  So why not earn money through it?  If you have some domains that you’re not using and want to earn a bit of money from them, you can check out Google’s domain parking AdSense option.  As it IS Google, they’ll walk you through the how’s and to’s of everything, it’s pretty straightforward.