Clever fake New Years Day PPC ads using as display URL

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  • January 1, 2012
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

If you were to click on the Google logo on New Years day it would have taken you to the search results for the phrase “New Year’s Day” as shown in the screenshot below. When I looked at this the advert stood out to me because although the Daily Mail isn’t noted for high level journalism I very much doubt they use PPC to promote stories.

Sure enough when I clicked on the ad it took me straight to a really really clever site about some kind of wrinkle treatment. The clever bit about this page is that it uses a geotargeting script to automatically insert the location of the reader into the paragraph so it looks like a local lady has reviewed it – try visiting via a proxy and watch the location change in the page. The page also has social proof with fake facebook buttons and logos of other reputable sites too.

The site is so clever that it took me quite a while to figure out whether it was real or not. The proof is that if you search via the image URL in Google images for “Emily” on the right of the page it comes up with an article on photoshopping showing the same before & after shots for a lady with a different name.

The really interesting thing for me is that they managed to trick Google into using as a display URL. The target URL wasn’t a one so it’s not some kind of XSS hack. I assume they are redirecting Googlebot to the page and cloaking everybody else.

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