From time to time, people come across various exploits, holes, or problems with sites or services. Google’s not immune to such occurrences, just like a lot of other sites out there. Certainly Google’s had its issues in the past, and I’ve pointed out a few of them out in the past. I honestly haven’t heard a lot about Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) issues lately, which is a good thing. But a blogger named Josh wrote about an interesting Google Ads exploit that he and his Aunt Sue discovered.
In the post, he explains that Aunt Sue did a search at Google for “Ebay”. eBay doesn’t currently bid on it’s own brand name (which is a mistake, in my opinion). Josh and Aunt Sue noticed a Google AdWords ad, though, for eBay, as shown below:
The person or company that bought the Google Ad doesn’t direct those clicking on the ad to eBay, though. They injected a link to another site, that then causes a popup that essentially tells them that their computer has a virus (which it doesn’t).
Furthermore, what’s more disturbing is that the advertiser apparently only targeted older people, like Aunt Sue.
In the post, Josh asks Google to make sure that the link text that you hover over and the display URL match the domain and link that is the target in the ad. It should also be clear who actually paid for the ad, as well.
I know Google has several checks and balances in place to prevent things like this from happening, but apparently these scammers were able to bid on the keyword “eBay” and show what appears to be an ad for eBay. In my experience, in most cases these ads are short-lived and Google typically shuts them down fairly quickly. I’m not seeing the ad appear right now, or any Google Ads showing for a keyword search for eBay, but I may not be in the target age group.
Images/Screenshots courtesy of wp.josh.com