Google: Disclose Others’ Paid Links, Not Ours?

by Karoli on April 15, 2007 · 5 comments

Matt Cutts says paid links should be disclosed, and bloggers should be turning in bloggers who don’t. There’s more on Techmeme, including Calancanis’ usual bombastic assumption that PayPerPost is goin’ down in flames. (Nonsense, Jason).

Here’s my question for Google: How can you announce this program for paid, embedded text links this way:

Ad formats: You can create text ads, image ads, or our new text link ad format in your pay-per-action campaign. Text link ads are brief text descriptions that take on the characteristics of a publisher’s page. These Javascript-based ads will display like regular hyperlinks and allow publishers to embed these links inline with other text to promote your product or service.

I added the bold text. When Google made this announcement I questioned why Calacanis wasn’t all over it the same way he was PayPerPost, since this is even worse. Embedding paid links that don’t even relate to what I’m writing about? Imagine this sentence:

My hard drive crashed and I had to restore the whole thing after a virus attacked me.

(Don’t click the links; they’re just placeholders). But for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that link one led off to “”. Let’s pretend that link two went to “”, and link three went to “”.

Obviously the only relevant link would be the first — but under the description Google gave for their program, links two and three could be in the text despite the fact that they are not relevant.

Now, isn’t that ‘covert marketing’?

C’mon, Google, what’s the deal here?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 raiph April 18, 2007 at 1:23 am

I’m not sure if/when you’ll read this now your attention is on the VT tragedy, but this seems like an unobtrusive way to let you know that the Julie Amero trial transcript at is ready for general public consumption.

Fwiw, the google link ads sound brilliant to me. They say that if you mouse over one of these links you see “Ad by Google” and if you click on one of these links you are taken to a page that says “Ad by Google”, and the ad content has to conform with their usual rules for ads which specifically outlaws final links whose content doesn’t reasonably match up with the ad content, and in this case I’d expect the ad content to have to match up with the inline link text too, although that doesn’t seem essential to me.

love, raiph

2 Heather Paquinas April 19, 2007 at 6:16 pm

I wonder how this fits with Matt Cutts statement that sites cannot hurt other sites ranking.

This whole thing makes me wonder if people who report paid links are going to be lumped in with the enemy, similar to how the fbi puts you on their terrorist watch-list if you report illegal muslim immigrants.

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