Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 04:59

YouTube just can't get their ads under control.

I recently noticed that I'm getting dodgy ads on YouTube on a mildly regular basis and the ad in question isn't just dodgy. It's a scam. And obviously so. Usually I just report them. But this one is a little special.

The ad in question is the gem on the right. It's originally from adshuffle.com. With 2 fs. If you get that joke ... I actually had to check that twice and still did a lookup to be sure it really is adshuffle.com and not some scammer again.

You don't really need to be a genius to get a bit suspicious about this one. It's pretty obviously a fake and a quite distasteful at that. If you look at the text and then the picture you just know this has to be a fake.

This is one of those instances where an algorithm should come to the very same conclusion. It's not really difficult. In fact it could  have been detected by a number of indicators. An ad like this should be reviewed by an actual human before it's aired and there isn't any excuse if that doesn't happen. It just means you're too greedy to give a fuck. Particularly if it's a scam that's running for quite some time now.

So what is this actually advertising for? It's linking to hot-news-trends.com. Essentially a fake news site disguising as CNN's tech section (screenshot attached). CNN seems to be the favorite fake source for this particular scam. It's basically advertising for a well known scam: HawkCode. I think it's a trading bot allegedly developed by Hawking. Of course it isn't. The first time I've seen this particular gem was about one fucking year ago. All outgoing links go to go2prod.co. An expected Panama/Cloudflare solution. Interestingly hot-news-trends.com also has some dodgy but less scammy content (not accessible via front). It might actually be hacked but I don't think so.

So this one isn't just screaming scam all over it. It is a well known scam. Yet it's on YouTube and it made it all the way through via doubleclick and adshuffle. While YouTube is demonetizing a fuckload of channels for really no particular reason and no fuck is given about that by YouTube, they pretty obviously don't hold themselves to the same standards when it comes to the other side of that profitable coin. And it only seems to be YouTube. I haven't really noticed this anywhere else in Google's domain. It's not regular enough to alert you to a potential malware problem - even though this one actually did trigger me - and usually they are just dodgy. It's mostly games and it's the kind of game ads you'd expect on a less sophisticated site. Not really a big deal but a little bit off. If that advertisement would be a channel it be demonetized for good. And in this particular case they would likely be closed for good.

The irony here is that this ad was shown next to a channel that is allegedly suffering from demonetization. Yes. While YouTube is very careful with placing real ads on that channel it apparently is far less careful with scam ads it's showing next to it ... and who can ultimately place them there.

This also shows a more broad problem with this. As I mentioned above this ad did not originate from Google. It's served by adschuffle, which again is served by doubleclick. It's basically an iframe in an iframe. And I don't know how adschuffle works. It might very well be that there is actually a longer chain including some reseller(s) who might have direct access to insert ads into adshuffle.