What if Someone "Steals" Your Google Adsense Publisher ID?

I’ve been reading up on Google’s being in the hot seat for AdSense ClickFraud lately. Advertisers are losing good money on a marketing system that’s supposed to have no deadweight. After all, as opposed to traditional marketing, advertisers don’t pay a cent unless ads published reach the intended audience, which a clickthrough is supposed to be indicative of. Or, at least, that’s the ideal situation.

But ClickFraud is old news. People have been doing everything from clicking on ads on their own sites, using different proxies, using click-bots, or even hiring shady companies to do all sorts of things to increase their clickthroughs. Of course, most of these methods are easily identifiable and detectable. And most of these fraudsters can expect to get the AdSense suspension email in no time.

However, there’s one other thing I’m worried about when it comes to AdSense. Have you noticed that AdSense publisher codes are published in clear text, for everyone to see when viewing a webpage’s source?

Anyone who maintains a site with AdSense should be able to figure this out.

It’s out in the open. So what?

Here’s a term coined for this activity, as cited by TheGoogleCache.com–“AdSense Bowling.” It’s basically using another publisher ID to do all sorts of things banned under the AdSense Terms of Service.

It’s so strikingly simple and devious, that I’m wondering why the Google AdSense team still hasn’t done anything to protect publishers against this. TheGoogleCache suggested some possible ways to improve security, like encrypting the AdSense javascript, limiting publishin of ads to certain sites only, and even opting-in for more agressive ClickFraud detection.

Seeing how inattentive AdSense support tends to be when it comes to inquiries on ClickFraud and account banning, AdSense bowling can potentially cause large revenue losses for publishers–sometimes even a single day’s suspension can be headache enough, moreso if an account gets suspended for weeks. I hope Google does something about this.

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