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Not that any of you would, but remember when repeatedly clicking the Lib Dem sponsor link, you have to refresh the page first ;)

1) Click link
2) Click back
3) Refresh
4) Repeat steps 1-3

Surely this cost must be covered by election expenses, the bigger this bill is the less they have to spend elsewhere! I'm clicking now ...

It's not just Bob, they're paying for a search of me and other words linked to the election.

However, if I were you I would not encourage people to seek to damage a Google advertiser in this way. Google do have procedures to pick up this kind of abuse and it would backfire on the Tories.

"Tories seek to damage LibDems by abusing Google ads" will not make good headlines nor help your relationship with Google. I suggest you withdraw such encouragement.

This story looks familiar.

I think you mean B&C not G&C !

Kind of Chad to find time in his busy campaign schedule to advise on relationships with Google - I don't think our friends at Google will mind if we click a link - if every party member did it once it would cost them near enough £300,000.

And yes, Guido did say this a couple of days ago.

In the 2001 General Election, Labour tried a similar stunt using old-fashioned "snail mail" when they spammed one Lib Dems' FREEPOST address with literally thousands of bits of breakfast cereal packets, magazine pages, mail-order catalogues, etc. The Lib Dem candidate got lots of sympathetic publicity in the local media, and the Royal Mail waived the bill. So think carefully before adopting this tactic - it could be interpreted as a sign of desperation.

"I don't think our friends at Google will mind if we click a link "

Yes they will. Clicking simply to cause financial pain to an advertiser or as a way to make money is against the Google Ad rules. I have reported this to Google.

The Google adwords link isn't there.

It doesn't appear on every search unless the advertiser has paid the full suggested daily budget.

It appears every x searches depending of the estimated daily search cost and the budget set by the advertiser.

Isn't there a UKIP blog you could be bothering instead Chad?

Can't see the Google Adwords Link.

There is however a link that claims that you can "Buy Bob Neill on eBay". Is that ethical?

This sort of thing is alright for Guido but I'm not sure a responsible website like this one should be encouraging such behaviour.The Lib Dems have a deserved reputation for underhanded election tactics let's not seek to imitate them.

And the Humourless Po-Faced Poster of the day award goes to...Chad for his brilliant "Ummm, I'm telling on you" post.

Sorry to upset you Moralz, but as a long-term Google advertiser myself, I know how damaging this kind of abuse being encouraged here by ConservativeHome is, as people seek to damage rivals by clicking on their ads just to use up their budget.

This is totally underhand and irresponsible and shows a worrying change of direction for the site.

finally something that idiot tory activists can do.
endless clicking on a website.

who said the tories are a bankrupt intelelctual force?

"People seek to damage rivals by clicking on their ads just to use up their budget.

This is totally underhand and irresponsible."

Chad, I don't think anybody that deliberately pursues a highly misleading election campaign solely to split the Conservative vote is in a position to be quite so sanctimonious.

The Liberal Democrats put themselves in this position by cynically seeking to manipulate internet searches for a rival candidate and so they don't deserve any sympathy.


You clearly know nothing about how Google AdWords work.

Google Ads are a keyword ad system, and Google continually reviews the relevance of keywords and actively removes keywords that it considers irrelevant to the site content.

So, Google is clearly happy with the Libdem ads, as they have been running for a while.

However, what Google will not tolerate is people who either seek to damage a rival by encouraging or performing multiple clicks simply to use up the AdWords advertisers pay-per-click budget, or close who click on the AdSense ads on their own site to make money.

So the LibDems are breaking no rules, but ConservativeHome is and could endanger its own position to run Google ads on this site for abusing the service.

As Guido pointed out the other day, they've also done it for 'vote blue go green', linking to Ming Campbell's website.

It's not irresponsible, they're getting what they deserve for their own underhand tactics...

It is a simple, black-and-white abuse of Google rules, and if the LibDems complain, Google is likely to compensate them for the clicks.

The Tories have just hired an ex-Google employee as their internet guru. Go and ask him how Google views this kind of behaviour.

Shouldn't you be out canvessing Chad?

I'm sure google have bigger things to worry about than a few moaning Lib Dems.

You've certainly made me question my post Chad but, on balance, I still think there is something inappropriate about the LibDems piggybacking on Tory names and slogans to peddle their negative advertising.

PS What is Google's view of the way the LibDems are using the sponsored links system? Perhaps both the LibDems and ConservativeHome are in need of censure from Google? I'd certainly be happy to stop my little campaign if the LibDems - who falsely bill themselves as the positive party - suspended their advertising tactics...

Hi Tim, if the LibDems were misbehaving, Google would pull the keywords. They are very fast and proactive as this.

Google sets the rules for its service, so it is Google not the LibDems you should be complaining about.

I understand the tricks political parties play, but when you start abusing internet structures, then it affects the internet as a whole.

A few years ago, a rival tried the same to one of my sites. Google repaid the clicks. It can escalate and ends up sucking up bandwidth etc etc, and breaks down the netiquette that has built up over the past decade or so.

Where does this sort of behaviour go next? Do you seek to hack into their server to pile up the bandwidth and thus hit them financially that way?

It would seem that the LibDems have just been a bit net savvy with this approach. They are breaking no rules.

Given that Huhne and Campbell supporters engaged in the same tricks (to each other) during the Liberal Democrat leadership campaign, I doubt the LibDems are in any position to take the moral high ground on this anyway.


Thank you for the fascinating insight into how Google AdWords works.

If you read my comment, you'll note that I did not suggest that Google is unhappy with the Liberal Democrat ads or that the ads broke Google rules.

Please address comments I actually make before attempting to patronise me in future.

This is a daft piece of Internet idiocy. Google has safeguards on this sort of thing, they will log the ip address of each click and if it's getting hammered by the same address will simply not charge for it.

We're above this.

Hi DVA, you wrote that the LibDems were "manipulating" the searches. They are not. They are following the rules.

Google allows advertisers to use terms and names of competitors as long as they are relevant to the site content.

There is no manipulation, simply a good understanding of the rules.

..it would only be an abuse or manipulation by the LibDems if they were seeking to use the keywords to display ad text that seeks to pass themselves off as the Tory site for example, but they are clearly showing that you will be visiting a LibDem site.

I wrote a little programme back during the LibDem leadership race that was able to hit Google with the search and get the unique identifier string out of the results and mimic individual clicks on the link. I managed to get a hit rate of about 10 a second with it.

I then came to the conclusion that I need to get out more.

Google have constructed an advertising system.

If someone disagrees with that system they are entitled to do whatever they please within the law to bring it down.

I for one find something vaguely sinister about a US company telling people what they can and cannot do on the internet.

Having said that I think ConservativeHome should stick to deploring the LibDems negative advertising techniques rather than sinking to their level by encouraging people to click multiple times. Telling people about it (which will probably cause them to click once), seems completely legitimate and sensible.

please note that requests for the code I wrote will be declined.

Hi Chad, I can only assume you're being deliberately obtuse in order to provoke a debate about semantics so I'll keep this simple...

Manipulation is not synonymous with rule breaking, ergo a suggestion that the Liberal Democrats are manipulating internet searches is not a suggestion that the Liberal Democrats are breaking Google's rules.

That's the last I intend to say in response to you about this, as I'm sure the other readers aren't interested in a semantic squabble between the two of us, and I'm sure you're eager to get away from your computer and start pounding the streets of Bromley with your new best pal Nigel.

Looks like Google have acted - it does not seem to work anymore.

"I for one find something vaguely sinister about a US company telling people what they can and cannot do on the internet."

They aren't. Google are simply seeking to protect their own advertisers from blatant abuse and finanical loss caused by those with malicious intent.

That's seems fair to me. There is a world of difference between leveraging the power of the net (positive) and abusing internet structures (negative).

This thread is entitled "make the LibDems pay" and is clearly encouraging a clearly defined abuse of Google AdWords. That is disgraceful and I hope Google respond.

Slightly off subject but I was in Bromley yesterday. The Lib Dems have gone for a new style poster and it is ghastly. It looks like an Estate Agent 'For Sale' board. Whatever happened to the gold triangles - is this part of their new campaigning? I know Lib Dem leaflets read like Estate Agent descriptions but this might be going too far.

"with your new best pal Nigel"

:-) Thanks. I did have a decent chat with Nigel the other day and I was encouraged by his interest in progcon, but I'm waiting to see some commitment to the progcon way before even thinking about getting involved.

Chad @ 1145...
"Google are simply seeking to protect their own advertisers from blatant abuse"

How nice to see Chad taking the moral high ground on this issue.

Shame we did not see such high minded commercial morality when he used Conservative Party logos on his own website without permission of the copywrite holder, or when he used the photographs of Eric Forth to promote his own political agenda before the man was buried and without the consent of his widow.

Chad would have much more gravitas if his "faux indignation" was consistent in all he did.

Chad, would you be reporting us if you were campaigning for the official Conservative candidate?

I haven't actually seen this advert yet, has it been pulled?

Hi Richard,

I'm a geek first and foremost, and have been an active net user for >10 years, and advertiser and AdSense customers for many years.

I would complain about anyone who sought to abuse Google's system to cause financial harm to another as it has a potential to damage the system as a whole.

It has nothing to do with politics. Leverage the power of the net; don't abuse it.

Chad do you not believe it is wrong to infringe and abuse copywrite laws?

It might have been better to quote Mr Fawkes on this one and repeat his suggestion. Then he would get the blame if anyone got angry. :)

Well they have linked to Telegraph Spy (who didn't credit Guido, by the way).

"Chad do you not believe it is wrong to infringe and abuse copywrite laws? "

Yes of course. And should I ever receive a complaint from a copyright holder about usage of an image etc, then I would of course respect their wishes. However, I am not answerable to anonymous whiners of course!

Chad, are you so confident of winning in B&C that you've given up campaigning for posting here?

I'm not even standing. Keep up!

Nor helping UKIP?

Well, I have stepped aside in support of Nigel Farage, but that is because he is a supporter of BetterOffOut, nothing to do with the colour of his rosette.

I think all BetterOffOut supporters should avoid standing against another BOO who has a better chance of winning. Bob Neill is not a BOO, but I would have supported him if he was.

(please email me if you have any further questions so we can keep the thread on topic)

"Hemming-Clark" Googled was also showing Ben Abbotts, cheeky monkey. It's stopped now but there is still a sponsored link. Try it now - it may amuse! The campaign's going very well thank you - I have FOUR posters in one Chislehurst shop and several in strategically-placed gardens and no sign of a Liberal Democrat (or Labour, or Conservative-except at their "office") poster anywhere. Ben Abbotts now thinks in his newspaper-style leaflet that he's a resident of Bromley, when I think he means Bromley Borough which, as I pointed out previously, is not quite the same as Bromley & Chislehurst Constituency. Maybe he's getting a bit muddled. Anyway I think we should call him Benjamin as he calls himself on his business website!

Hi John,

You have a factually incorrect and possibly highly misleading claim on your website that Nigel Farage will remain as an MEP if he becomes an MP, when that has not been possible for a couple of years.

Perhaps you are a bit muddled too?

Tim, very quick and effective way of neutralising a crafty campaign tactic from the libdem's.

How's that Chris? It is still running, I just checked a minute ago.

Remember, it doesn't appear for every search unless the advertiser has set their budget at Google's estimated daily budget.

I can't get it to appear no matter how many times I click the search.

Anybody remember Winchester in the 2005 General Election? Mark Oaten was the first to moan when the Conservative candidate registered Markoaten.com or some such url which linked directly to the Conservative candidate's campaign website. - It’s another good example of Lib Dem opportunism/Hypocrisy.

Re: Hugh @ 18:50

You're mixing apples and oranges, Hugh. In the Winchester case, the Conservative candidate was, albeit for only as long as it took to click a mouse, passing himself off as Mark Oaten, a mild form of deception. In the current case, a sponsored link appears (allegedly - I've yet to see it) to a Lib Dem site when one searches for Bob Neill. No deception at all.

In the Winchester case, the Conservative candidate was, albeit for only as long as it took to click a mouse, passing himself off as Mark Oaten.

...Who would want to pass themselves off as Mark Oaten today?

It's fair wearing out my wrist all this clicking.....

I see young Ben moved to Beckenham in March 2004 and paid £360K for his house.

When I looked this morning I could not see the link, but I did spot a sight for Bob Neill the hypnotist. Could this be a problem for the electoral commission?

I don't generally agree with Chad but I do on this one.

The LibDems have not done anything underhand. The sponsored link is quite clearly to the website for their candidate. The text associated with it makes it clear this is a link to the website for Ben Abbotts and that he is campaigning against Bob Neill.

I also find it amazing that someone talks about LibDem hypocrisy when comparing this to the actions of the Conservative candidate in Winchester. That was underhand and, in my view, wrong. This is not.

It is negative campaigning, which I don't like, but it isn't illegal and lets not pretend that we never do it.

Having taken on board the comments made following my previous post comparing this episode with that in Winchester 2005 I am happy to stand corrected.

The comments to this entry are closed.



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