Google: Disclose Others’ Paid Links, Not Ours?

by Karoli on April 15, 2007 · 152 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 “FormulaOneFanSite.com”. Let’s pretend that link two went to “HardDriveRestoration.com”, and link three went to “NoVax4Us.com”.

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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