PPC advertisers (e.g. Verizon)
money viewers
money viewers

Screenshots - SmileyCentral Grabbing Advertisers' Organic Traffic
How Google and Its Partners Inflate Measured Conversion Rates and Increase Advertisers' Costs - Ben Edelman

This page gives screenshots showing on-screen displays and associated network flows as IAC/SmileyCentral grabbed organic traffic that should have flowed directly to Verizon. All testing occurred on May 9, 2009.

See also discussion in main article, as well as a video.


Ordinary IE6

In an ordinary installation of Internet Explorer 6, as in most browsers, the Address bar begins at the top-left corner of the screen. So entering a domain name into that box takes a user directly to the reqeusted site.


Requesting www.verizon.com on a PC with IAC/SmileyCentral

On a PC with IAC/SmileyCentral, I click in the top-left box and type in "www.verizon.com", then press enter. I receive the results listing shown below.

Notice that my cursor is 230+ pixels to the right of the Verizon Wireless hyperlink at left. But the mous pointer nonetheless displays a "hand" symbol, and the browser's Status Bar confirms that if I click in the present location, I will be transported through the corresponding ad.



Clicking a IAC/SmileyCentral/MyWebSearch link yields traffic to Google

I click one of the listed links, and I am taken from MyWebSearch to Google. See packet log below, with the Google redirect highlighted in green. Thus, the advertiser (here, Verizon) ends up paying Google for the IAC/SmileyCentral traffic.

GET /mywebsearch/redirect.jhtml?tp=top&qid=9D8383433E68A8AA0A0CEE744E05250A &searchfor=www.verizon.com&action=pick&pn=1&si=&ptnrS=ZSYYYYYYSNUS&ss=&st=bar &cb=ZS&dod=&pg=AJmain&hlc=YWotbWVnYXx6cy10Yg..&plp=0&tpr= &redirect=mPWsrdz9heamc8iHEhldEeSc%2FVOw6SzSGaNI5V3YDA%2BnAzs4LlAXDE2%2F3Mot9 4RvpbM%2B%2FU2gft%2FIQXjJQICU%2F6z3u2ZL2x9ilRnIoObuQsHR2kBpu7orCVRlAPfrFeglvv ii0D0PQEYRCo9K9Jb1Yl7K9OnfR35AvVqB1fzKcTUqfwIRHC5x%2F9jiFGnMfMf26FFF1XoJkm4La 3k8naEOuiNzfft8O78qsK3dZLr3MIwtp1W%2FqkdnvP9FN9A2cvA8a1RYLpO3%2FxlCGAmb0NBmAX Y0NDhf%2FGS5wjyfPFH8ZBkwbJTK9IKPezlzYqra7v1HTtMu1H3aN4zWlHRtWGu93nan%2BRKdXpt 7yZhiJX42L%2FVYQp4BmYouu856oyYBysGe8O34Q0eU5BPSpbnmcbZIa8kwlUcoKRtIHjzADhI4DJ u1%2Fv5EXKcmgyhat0KbIKyMJjhnQ8enT%2FuzD1e0E6OIoGOSJDbB7D4ixZGNCiPrKBxbyb%2BYP lIhXcOTdlhxvvO8%2Bhl8dlYWLBW3raAcS8SS6cZYyATAzD6%2BZNOkpKjzuwSuQ8R0%2FmdMfWa %2F84ArBndZ&pr=AJ&ct=GG HTTP/1.1
Accept: image/gif, image/x-xbitmap, image/jpeg, image/pjpeg, application/x-shockwave-flash, */*
Referer: http://search.mywebsearch.com/mywebsearch/AJmain.jhtml?searchfor=www.verizon.com&ptnrS=ZSYYYYYYSNUS&st=bar
Accept-Language: en-us
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; FunWebProducts)
Host: search.mywebsearch.com
Connection: Keep-Alive
Cookie: UID=PTrW7uVMcEbMrMK7ghdUoQ; search=l%3Den%26; ccsP=tbf=00011011&qv=4|1241897982283; ti=2454961; ptnrP=ZS; id=YYYYYYSNUS; fl=0; __utma=184238522.1064134019.1241897975.1241898125.1241898150.4; __utmb=184238522; __utmz=184238522.1241897975.1.1.utmccn=(direct)|utmcsr=(direct)|utmcmd=(none); X=us; SAUID=22EFD77B-1A90-4C58-B3F3-A333D48E5245; ptnrS=ZS; __utmc=184238522; ForeseeLoyalty_MID_BcwNNJkVc8=2

HTTP/1.1 302 Moved Temporarily
Date: Sat, 09 May 2009 19:43:00 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.27 (Unix) mod_jk/1.2.8 CovalentSNMP/1.2
P3P: policyref="http://search.mywebsearch.com/p3p/p3p.xml", CP="CURa ADMa DEVa PSA PSD OUR BUS UNI PUR INT DEM STA PRE COM NAV OTC NOI DSP COR"
Vary: Accept-Encoding
Pragma: no-cache
Cache-control: private
Expires: Sat 02 Apr 1977 17:15:00 GMT
Location: http://www.google.com/aclk?sa=L&ai=CIqvArdwFSoyBGYWntge32om8B6ntzIoBtZD4wgrl3Lg1EAEgu04oClCKvK-aA2DJlu6IhKTsD8gBAaoEGU_Q1nHGVe36BJdUa6EkIB0U5I_Z3vA_kGo&num=1&sig=AGiWqtynHvF0cCpisIRoSQmmqcWvwVz_YQ&q=http://s2.srtk.net/www/delivery/rd.php%3Fbannerid%3D230%26trackerid%3D678%26SR%3Dsr2vw36go122200mp4756pi21ai590%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fclickserve.dartsearch.net%252Flink%252Fclick%253Flid%253D43000000120423952
Content-Language: en-US
Content-Length: 0
Connection: close
Content-Type: text/plain



SmileyCentral installation soliciations with browser rearrangement depicted in below-the-fold disclosures

The screenshot below was taken from a 800x600 PC. In visible text, SmileyCentral describes itself as a "toolbar' but never mentions that it will rearrange a user's browser to put its search box where the Address Bar belongs. Even on larger screens, that admission comes at the bottom of the pitch, where it is particularly likely to be overlooked.