Google's ad traffic is like the news: Fake.

The WSJ is reporting that Google is issuing refunds to advertisers over "fake traffic," and are now working on new safeguards against the issue.

Google’s refunds amount to only a fraction of the total ad spending served to invalid traffic, which has left some advertising executives unsatisfied, the people familiar with the situation said. Google has offered to repay its “platform fee,” which ad buyers said typically ranges from about 7% to 10% of the total ad buy.

The company says this is appropriate, because it doesn’t control the rest of the money. Typically, advertisers use DoubleClick Bid Manager to target audiences across vast numbers of websites in seconds by connecting to dozens of online ad exchanges, marketplaces that connect buyers and publishers through real-time auctions.

As we at Adland have argued for years now, digital paid media is a fraud due to the many incidents of fake traffic, bots, and the smoke and mirrors that blind the less tech savvy clients. Last year, Russian bots earned 180 million by fake-watching ads all over the Google empire.

Google has participated in efforts to clean up the digital market, joining the industry initiative Ads.txt project launched back in May by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. They're hoping to bring trust back into the digital ecosystem. But in the arms race between consumers who use ad blockers and ad networks making ads unblockable, unskippable and even more intrusive, the consumers are staying one step ahead. More importantly with each new fraud brought to light and the hundreds of millions wasted, it's hard to believe clients take Google at face value much longer. Advertisers are finally figuring out that this is a house of cards, built by pretty graphs in slick interfaces that look great on paper but in reality does very little to drive sales.

Google's latest crisis comes at the same time that it is removing content creators from the ability to monetize their content, policing Youtube like never before. Google's policing doesn't end there, however. In Professor Jordan Peterson's case, they banned him from his entire account, including mail and calendar.

Bloomberg reports that Google has just begun their biggest crackdown on "extremist content"

The new restrictions, which target what Walker called "inflammatory religious or supremacist content," are expected to hit a small fraction of videos, according to person familiar with the company. YouTube says it uploads over 400 hours of video a minute. Videos tagged by its new policy won’t be able to run ads or have comments posted, and won’t appear in any recommended lists on the video site. A warning screen will also appear before the videos, which will not be able to play when embedded on external websites. YouTube will let video creators contest the restrictions through an appeals process, a spokeswoman said.

If the appeals process is anything like what Adland encountered, then it will be labyrinthian, time-consuming and arbitrary. The only reason we were un-banned from Adsense the first time around, was because we knew someone who knew someone that worked at Google in Ireland. These days, the only replies we get are automatic. the domain has even been delisted from Google search completely, which we managed to fix, and we're currently being heavily deranked for no apparent reason. Or perhaps these articles are the reason.
In dealing with international brand boycott of Google advertising, and cleaning house so that they no longer fund terrorism by running pre-roll Super Bowl ads on ISIS videos, Google is now again apologising and "tweaking" their system. Is it any wonder, Google is making the web poorer.

Like advertisers who feel cheated, the digital serfs that have helped Google grow into a dangerous monopoly are now finding that the "free" services came with a price. The biggest tech company is not only costing us money, but now our rights to free speech.

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Andrew Morris's picture

Great write up. Truth to power.

Kenneth 's picture

Here's how I deal with the spying, selling of info, tracking my moves and the general sense I get knowing that Google doesn't approve of my thoughts. I have a browser extension called AdNauseam, it clicks every ad automatically in the background. If more and more people used it then their customer ads would become cheaper and worthless. Google target you because they won't know what the hell interests you because you apparently like everything!

Dabitch's picture

We've mentioned Ad Nauseam within several articles before especially after they were banned from Chrome apps almost a year ago. I was in fact about to do it again but I honestly feel like I'm repeating myself a lot.
It's encouraging that more people are finally waking up to the danger of having Google as the single basket for everyones information and content now. The arms race between consumers with their ad blockers and things like AdNauseam means that more ad creep will happen, as brands stealth into viral hits, encourage celebrities to promote for them on social channels, and so on. Advertising, like energy, doesn't go away it just changes form. We've even had actors do "spontaneous" word of mouth in real life for almost twenty years now. I much prefer clearly labelled advertising space, within reason, and consumers who will allow it in order to support the content they consume, or a paid for subscription model without ads (gee, exactly how we used to do it before Google banned us, starting in 2003.)