Google’s AdSense spam

Google has embarked on a pyramid-based incentives program directed at bloggers. They’ve been pushing really hard for me to put AdSense on Blogdex, presumedly because it has high PageRank. I was first contacted directly by someone located in New York under the pretense of a “potential partnership between Google and” This was a personal email requesting me to contact them directly (their name has been changed to protect the innocent):

Subject: partnership with Google
From: John Doe <>
To:’d like to discuss a potential partnership opportunity between and Google. I work here in the New York office.

Please let me know when might be the best time to follow up with a call.


John Doe
Google, Inc. | Partner Development
1440 Broadway, New York, NY 10018

I called them back, not sure what this “partnership” entailed. It turned out that they wanted me to put AdSense on Blogdex, nothing more. I politely declined noting that it was a research project on academic bandwidth, and forbidden from containing advertising.

After this request, today I recieved another email, this one impersonal and directed at bloggers:

From: “Jane” <>
Subject: [#20439669] Invitation from Google to join the AdSense Referral Partner ProgramHello,

We are pleased to extend Blogdex an invitation to participate in the Google Referral Partner Program. We believe that your participation in theAdSense Partner Referral Program will deliver additional revenue forBlogdex and enhance your value proposition to your community of bloggers.

Google AdSense: Google AdSense is an easy and effective means for online content owners such as bloggers to earn revenue from their website, while providing blogsite visitors with a more rewarding online experience. Google AdSense delivers ads targeted to web content such as blog pages, providing an easy way for bloggers to monetize their content.

Google AdSense Referral Partner Program provides blogging service
providers such as Blogdex the ability to refer their bloggers to sign up for Google AdSense.

  • Referral Bounty: When bloggers so referred sign up for Google AdSense, Google pays Blogdex a bounty of $20 for every completed referral.
  • Compelling value-add: Through the Google AdSense Referral Partner Program, you can provide your bloggers with an easy and effective way to monetize their blog content. In addition to increasing blogger satisfaction, Blogdex could benefit significantly from the ease of content monetization.

Please refer to the attached presentation for more details about the program. This program is open to companies by invitation only. You are requested to refrain from sharing this invitation with anyone else.

Google Referral Program Team

Google Inc.
Googleâ„¢ (NASDAQ: GOOG) is a global technology leader focused on improving the way people connect with information. Google’s innovations in web search and advertising have made its website a top Internet destination and its brand, one of the most recognized in the world. Google maintains the world’s largest online index of websites and other content.

The email included—get this—a powerpoint presentation showcasing how awesomely Matt used AdSense on PVRBlog. They also sent along a one-page pdf detailing the same information. Here’s a copy of these files:

Attachment: Google AdSense Partner Program Invitation – Feb 2005.ppt
Attachment: pvrblog.pdf

This act strikes me as extremely uncharacteristic of Google, at least the old, fuzzy Google we knew and loved (or at least secretly loved). How could they overlook the fact that I had been directly contacted by someone when sending the second email. Even more puzzling, how could they attach a powerpoint presentation to their email?!? For a company that is dedicated to fighting spam, they don’t seem to have good enough internal communication to stop from doing it themselves. A 400kb powerpoint presentation is worse than anything I’ve gotten from a legitamate spam operation.

Update: After talking with Matt, he noted that no one from Google contacted him about this email, and that the snapshot of PVRBlog was taken yesterday. Good work! Your powerpoint is up-to-date.

Oops: Rereading the email I just noticed the line, “This program is open to companies by invitation only. You are requested to refrain from sharing this invitation with anyone else.” I’m not very good at the stuffing-of-cat-back-in-bag, but then again Blogdex isn’t a company, so maybe it doesn’t apply to me.

16 thoughts on “Google’s AdSense spam

  1. The second email, describing a referral program, doesn’t actually involve sticking ads on your site itself, so they might have thought it was a clever way to get around your inability to commercialize your bandwidth, but I doubt they really gave it that much thought (further evidenced by their sending you this offer that seems to be primarily aimed at sites that host bloggers).
    Looking on the bright side, at least that email isn’t suggesting that you use spam yourself to get people to sign up through the referral service. In fact, you probably were only spammed because you seemed like someone who wouldn’t interpret this as an opportunity to spam every blog owner you know of with your referral link.
    Oh, and I don’t really see anything “pyramid”-like about the program since they don’t seem to be offering you a way to make money off of each ad shown by your referrees or any way to get money by signing up more referrers. I don’t want to totally destroy my confidence in Google though, so I didn’t read the PDF yet; I’m still too annoyed from learning that they will soon start serving animated GIFs through AdSense.

  2. Did you remove the name of the innocent from the power point document, or is it a real one? 🙂

    I thoght that it can be real, so I want to warn you, if not I appologise if I cause you any concern…

  3. i am a beginner in monetizing my blog with Adsense. i still need to learn more about the tips and tricks on Adsense. hopefully i might be able to earn a decent amount of cash on Adsense.

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