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Terpstravaganza

A Periodic (P)review Of Leaping Forward

By: Johan

Tuesday, August 23

GoogleTestAd Mystery Plot Thickens - New Revelations

Mysterious AdWords ads now accompany the growing search results.

Is it all a big prank? If it is, it's costing someone a fair bit of money, running bogus AdWords ads.

This is what I get in the UK when searching 'google monitor query or googletestad':



It reads:
Congratulations!
This is a family safe ad.
All systems are go!
www.google.com
Click through to any of the next result pages and the ad will stay. Why this is significant follows next. The ad actually lands on the Google search results page for 'family safe'.

9 out of 10 times roughly, I get the same ad in the UK when searching 'google monitor query or googletestadaj'. But sometimes, and especially when clicking through to page 2 and further I see:


It reads:
Congratulations!
This is the AJ monitoring ad.
All systems are go!
www.ask.com
That ad lands straight at AskJeeves' homepage.

What is all that good for?

I don't know. Maybe an expensive prank to further confuse all those frantically digging to find out more about googletestad.

I tried a couple of obvious variations like 'google monitor query or googletestadmsn', 'google monitor query or googletestady' etc. but no luck on finding more.

Now try the 'google monitor query or googletestadaj' search on AJ itself. It throws up this ad:



It reads:
Congratulations!
This is the AJ monitoring ad. All systems are go!
www.bogus.com
But it links to a page that doesn't even load. www.bogus.com does not exist. It seems supposed to be hosted on servers of the University of Oregon:

   Domain Name: BOGUS.COM
Registrar: TUCOWS INC.
Whois Server: whois.opensrs.net
Referral URL: http://domainhelp.tucows.com
Name Server: PHLOEM.UOREGON.EDU
Name Server: RIP.PSG.COM
Status: ACTIVE
Updated Date: 24-nov-2003
Creation Date: 20-feb-1992
Expiration Date: 21-feb-2007

But: It doesn't go directly to Bogus.com. It's via a Google Redirect. http://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.yourdomain.com/ is the format of redirecting via Google. The AJ ad actually goes here (broken up for formatting, see full url here):
http://www.google.com/url?
sa=l&q=http://www.bogus.com/&ai=BPCgtUJ8LQ6TbAYGe-QH_
mMCwBL4BvvaBjwGWlZQzoI0GEAEYASCp3pwDMABAihZIkjlQ_Onx0fn
_____AYgBAaoBBHd3d1_IAQE&num=1
Another observation: View the source of the Google Ad about 'family safe' and you'll also find the variable in the landing URL that's called 'ai'. It's value is a seemingly meaningless string. This is the landing page when pasted in the browser. It only shows one result due to the num=1 variable. Num=1 seems more related to the AW position though. Probably for the redirect script to store back into AW what the advertiser's ad position was and monitoring CTR's per position etc.

So what do we learn from this? Ab-so-lutely nothing. Someone went through the trouble of writing, and paying for, Google and AJ sponsored listings whilst probably not expecting any ROI. The Google AJ ad links via the url? redirect to AJ, yet the AJ ad links back to a non-existing website and also via a Google redirect.

My guess is that Google are monitoring and comparing the performance of their AdWords system to AJ's own new sponsored listings programme. Hence the redirect tracking url. Something as simple as that.

Anyone have their own guesses on what it's all about?