Google's sponsored links getting sneakier

I just got tricked into clicking on Google's Adsense today, and I thought it less than amusing how they are starting to use the same dodgy tricks as the other MFA (Made For Adsense) spam sites out there to get more clicks.

I'm working on a different monitor today, on a LCD which is a bit brighter than usual. A friend asks me to recommend some software to use for copying DVDs and I go to find him a link to DVD Shrink.

I search for 'DVD shrink' and click on the first result. I then realised from the Google Adwords tracking code in the resulting site that I had just clicked on an Adwords result.

Dodgy sponsored links

Check out how the words 'sponsored link' are way out on the right hand side, miles away from the ad. On my bright LCD monitor, the background looks almost white, and with no borders or other warnings, it's hard to pick this as being a sponsored result. And I'm a seasoned web veteran who knows the difference between sponsored and not-sponsored.

Even on a normal monitor, the light peachy background doesn't clearly stand out from the organic results.

Now, we all put up with sites trying to trick you into clicking their Adsense all the time - some style their fonts to look the same as Adsense, some give the Adsense no border and no background so it blends in, and some surround the Adsense with search results so the Adsense looks like a search result.

It's just that I didn't expect this sneakiness from Google.
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Tags: linksspamAdsenseAdwordsmfaadsense adwords links mfa spam